15

During my journeys of homemade pizza making I've come across the classic problem of it coming out as a wet mess, due to excess moisture of the toppings. A prime culprit of this was my use of supermarket wet mozzarella balls in the bag, and so have been hunting for a way to get around this issue.

The classic methods seem to be cutting into slices and drying it out with paper towels, which seems to take 10 towels or so to actually achieve much (wasteful!) or leaving it to hang in a cheesecloth to air-dry for x amount of days (too long!)

I came across this method which involves gently heating mozzarella slices in a saucepan to dehydrate them.

Is there any obvious downsides to this method such as ruining the flavour of the cheese/something along those lines as it otherwise seems to do an excellent job of removing the moisture and having a useable cheese in a reasonable timeframe. I cant seem to find much on this method other than that forum thread which makes me think there may be some downside an untrained pleb wouldn't be aware of.

(n.b yes, I am aware that low-moisture pre-grated cheese exists that completely eliminates this issue)

3
  • 1
    the pre-grated cheese won't solve the problem because it has so many additives which make it poor for pizza making. But if you can find low moisture whole milk cheese (eg albertsons.com/shop/product-details.137050479.html) it seems like this problem would be completely alleviated. Note: sometimes you can't find this in the 'fancy' cheese section but in cheese stick form -- these usually work just as well.
    – eps
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 1:11
  • I normally take them out of the bag, squeeze them at the sink, and tear strips off of them and let them sit in a collander over the sink until needed. I also like to mix with som other cheeses for more cheese flavor - grated parmesan, danbo, cheddar and gouda are regular visitors in my cheese mix.
    – JoSSte
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 20:11
  • That method picture looks like it took all the fat out of the cheese too. Don't do it. Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 3:22

3 Answers 3

35

I think you are overthinking the problem. The biggest issue with homemade pizza, especially Neapolitan style, is that people generally use way too many toppings. Cut back on your toppings (sauce included), and as you tear apart the mozzarella to use, simply blot it quickly on some paper towel. It should not require more than one sheet of paper towel. If you don't think this will resolve your issue, please update your question with amounts of ingredients and (if possible) a photo of your pizza.

1
  • Obligatory Pizza Journey reference: varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm - Heat is one of the biggest factors according to Mr. Varasano, but most/all of his pizzas are sparsely topped as well.
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 19:24
29

I'm going to suggest some corrections and workarounds here. First, if the generic "mozzarella balls" you're buying are so wet you need a whole roll of paper towels, stop buying that brand. Find a different one. Drying wet mozzarella shouldn't take more than an hour in the fridge in a colander; if it does, then aside from the trouble, the "mozzarella" you're buying is mostly water and isn't any higher quality than those bags of pre-grated stuff.

While we're at it, consider using drier, grated or thin-sliced mozzella. It's also "authentic", as in what top pizzaiolos in Napoli itself use. For example, look at Pepe in Grani(video), a regular contestant for "best pizza in Italy". Note the cheese being used there; it's not bocconcini balls, but a drier mozzarella. I'm not talking about pre-shredded mozzarella in a bag, but rather quality mozzarella that has been drained longer. In my region (Pacific Northwest USA), I can buy this from Ferndale Farmstead or Don Froylan. There are probably cheesemakers in your region who make similar quality dry or semi-dry mozzarella.

Finally, consider just using less cheese. There are definitely pizzas made with very wet mozzarella di bufala and/or fior de latte*. But in those cases, very little cheese is going on each pizza ... think one 2-3oz mozzarella ball per pizza, which results in splotches of cheese with space between, and your pizza doesn't get soggy:

photo of pizza margarita, showing the judicious use of cheese

This is the method I personally use, and I don't dry my water-packed mozzarella at all.

(* mozzarella made with cow's milk, as opposed to "real mozzarella", which is made with buffalo milk)

2

While @FuzzyChef has suggested an hour in the fridge in a colander, which I am sure works fine, in my experience you can get adequate drainage by cutting the mozzarella into ‘sticks’ rather than rounds (for greater surface area) and stacking them in a plate or shallow bowl. Then prop one side of that plate up so that the liquid drains away from the cheese.

When I make pizzas I do this stage just before I prep the rest of my toppings and generally after about 20 min when I’m ready to top a pizza the cheese has let go of up to a dessert spoon of water and is good to use.

I picked this tip up from an Italian pizzaiola’s videos a few years ago and it has stood me in good stead. If I can track down the video again I’ll link it here, but it’s been a long time so don’t hold your breath.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.