Cooking Pizza With Fresh Mozzarella

Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

When you make pizza at home, chances are mozzarella cheese will be one of your toppings. Mozzarella is a traditional addition to pizza, and while the processed, dry type of mozzarella is most common, you can also use fresh mozzarella as an exciting alternative. Just watch for some differing characteristics that may affect the finished product.

Fresh vs. Processed

The mozzarella cheese you buy for your homemade pizza will either be processed or fresh. The processed type of mozzarella is the kind most people are used to buying at the supermarket. It is often in brick or block form and is dry to the touch. It also melts wonderfully after being grated, and ends up stringy and gooey on top of your pizza. Fresh mozzarella has a higher moisture content, higher pH level and is soft to the touch. Originally, fresh mozzarella came from the milk of water buffaloes, but today it is also made with cow's milk. Fresh mozzarella used to only be available in Italy where it was made, when refrigeration wasn't an option, but now it is readily available in delis, supermarkets and specialty stores.

Slice It Up

When constructing your pizza, cut the fresh mozzarella into thin slices and arrange them on top of the pizza like you would pieces of pepperoni. Fresh mozzarella that is in the form of a small loaf will be easiest for cutting into slices. It isn't necessary to cover the entire top of the pizza with cheese, which often happens when using the drier, processed mozzarella.

Keeping Moisture Away

One of the primary issues you may face with using fresh mozzarella on a pizza is excess moisture escaping during the cooking process. Pools of water on a pizza are not appetizing, no matter how pretty and tasty the cheese is. Before you dress the pizza for the oven, blot the cheese with paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible. You can also line a bowl with paper towel and let the slices of cheese sit there for 10 or 15 minutes for moisture to drain out.

Mind Your Dough

Because the crust is such a major part of a successful pizza, par baking it for three or four minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit will help to keep it dry when you cook it with fresh mozzarella. Sometimes, brushing the surface of the dough with olive oil before arranging the cheese slices will create enough of a barrier to keep the water from the cheese out and keep the crust chewy or crisp, depending how you want it.