Cheese Proccessing Methods

Pizza in itself is an art form, from carefully crafting recipes, to preparing the ingredients, to the making and presentation of every pie that goes out your door.  In order to craft your perfect pizza, you have to process any loaf or block cheese to your order.  Following are some methods you can use to process your cheese so it meets your pizza needs.

Slicing – In order to slice cheese it must be a firm variety of cheese.  Softer cheese, such as mozzarella, can be sliced, but it is often difficult and tends to stick to the slicer – causing the block to bounce.  To reduce this, spray the blade with cooking oil before you begin and try slicing the cheese as soon as you get it so it hasn’t aged enough to become soft.

Grinding – The process of grinding cheese involves placing your cheese into the large screw-shaped shaft that will chop it into pieces and force it through small holes in a metal disc.  For grinding cheese, you must first chop the cheese into rectangles about the size of a 1/4 –pound butter stick.  Then push the cheese into the grinder one at a time.  Grinding yields short cylinder pieces, roughly 1/4 to 1/8 inch in diameter.  Cheese grinding is slow, time consuming, and is very hard to clean up.

Shredding/Grating – Shredding is the preferred means of processing pizza cheese.  Pizzerias that shred cheese usually use a vegetable-cutting attachment mounted on their mixer, but you can get a separate shredding machine if you operation requires it.

For shredding with an attachment on a mixer, block cheese must be cut into blocks of 1-1/2 inches. This is important because the length of the block determines the length of the shred.  If you want a longer shred, then cut a larger block or vice versa.  Your shred plate will determine the thickness of your shred, but generally speaking a thicker cut is better as it will not dry out as quickly during baking.  Shredding cheese that is too soft as a result of moisture or over-aging gives an inconsistent portioning and slower pizza making as it tends to stick together.

Chopping – Cheese can quickly and uniformly  be chopped in a cutter-mixer.  This process is also great for making cheese blends as it disperses the cheese uniformly while chopping.  For the best results, chop your cheese into blocks of 2-1/2 lb. pieces  (5# loaf cut in half), stacked on the blade with the lid closed and let the machine run for about 20 seconds.

When using a higher moisture cheese, the cheese granules tend to ball up or form into marble-sized pieces.  This can slow down the pizza making, but can also be used as an alert for cheese that has excess moisture.

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