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I use soft unripened goat cheese as a pizza topping. I prefer it over crumbled goat cheese for these reasons:

  • Soft goat cheese browns easier, melts easier, and has stronger flavour/tang compared to crumbled goat cheese.
  • Soft goat cheese is cheaper than crumbled goat cheese.

But of course, soft goat cheese is quite messy to deal with. I end up slicing sections with a knife from the brick of cheese, awkwardly pulling the sections into pieces, and placing them on the pizza — if I can get the cheese to unstick from my fingers. My hands get covered in sticky cheese in the process, which is messy and wasteful.

Is there something I can do that's less messy? For example, is there a way to extrude the soft goat cheese onto a pizza? I'm picturing a device similar to a caulking gun.

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    There are many kinds of goats' cheese. Can you be more specific, perhaps with a picture? But have you tried pushing the slices of the knife with a rubber spatula, perhaps after wiping the spatula with oil? That at least would save getting your fingers messy
    – Chris H
    Oct 17, 2023 at 6:05
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    Your first link gives me an 'access denied' error message.
    – quarague
    Oct 17, 2023 at 9:15
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    @quarague I'm not sure why you got an 'access denied' error. It's a public website. Anyway, I edited the question and used screenshots as links.
    – User1974
    Oct 17, 2023 at 17:42
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    Lick your fingers, waste solved.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 17, 2023 at 22:00
  • Further to Chris H's point, there may be more varieties of goat's cheese than cow's… even though despite producers' best efforts, few wholesalers and fewer retailers or restaurants understand that. Then, there might be goat cheeses better suited but after long wondering why pizza always and only used mozzarella, I finally Searched it and found four separate reasons why mozzarella really is better… Please Ask your own search engine why mozzarella is the best cheese for pizza… Oct 20, 2023 at 18:47

7 Answers 7

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A piano wire cutter is great for semi-soft cheese. Get one which is just the wire and the handle, not a "guillotine-style" cutter with a base. Some have a roller integrated to control the thickness; set that to "as thick as possible" and ignore the roller, freehanding the thickness.

enter image description here

The nice thing about the piano wire cutter is that it doesn't stick (much) to the cheese. But it isn't as good as a knife at moving the cut piece away from the rest of the cheese. You can cut a sufficiently soft block of cheese with a piano wire cutter, and afterwards it's still one piece. To get around this, slice directly onto the pizza, holding the cheese block above it and slicing horizontally on the bottom so that the slice falls off as it is cut. Basically you want to never touch the cut pieces, but have them fall into perfect arrangement. (You'll probably have to adjust them the first few hundred times.)

As for the extruding idea: Sure -- you could just stuff some cheese into a pastry bag -- but I suspect you wouldn't be happy with the "ribbons of toothpaste" look of the result. Melty, edge-browned cheese chunks look good on pizza. Stick to that shape.

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    I suspect the OP might be cutting not semi-soft cheese, but the kind that's like a log of goat cream cheese. I haven't used the cutter you show, but I suspect it will smear all over the cutter, because it's so soft, it's halfway to a spread.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 17, 2023 at 10:17
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    @rumtscho That's exactly the kind I had in mind. The cutter is great for that sort of cheese because the surface area in contact with the cheese is so low. There's no opportunity to stick or shear.
    – Sneftel
    Oct 17, 2023 at 10:29
  • Sneftel, thanks for clarifying that!
    – rumtscho
    Oct 17, 2023 at 10:52
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    So (just for clarification) this is the same idea as "Cheese Wire"? (amazon.co.uk/Cheese-Wires-handles-Spare-included/dp/B00237TZLI/… for example)
    – Justinw
    Oct 17, 2023 at 12:25
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    @ChrisH that’s the guillotine style I mentioned. TBH I don’t love them for hard cheeses either, a spade-shaped cheese slicer works best there.
    – Sneftel
    Oct 17, 2023 at 19:33
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Perhaps the cheese you're working with is a bit different but with the soft goat cheeses I've used it should be possible to:

  • cut the front of the packaging
  • gently press the cheese log from the back so a portion protrudes, then cut it (scissors make this easier)
  • the cut piece will stick to the scissors or knife, place it on the pizza (can use a toothpick or second knife/fork)
##########################
### cccccccccccccccccccccccccc
   #######################
   ^ press here   cut here ^

If the cheese is too soft, you can probably even use your fingers to detach a portion by pinching the front - or just spoon it over.

Slices won't be perfect especially for the last two methods but after it melts it shouldn't be noticeable.

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    If the chèvre is very fresh, you can cut a small hole and squeeze it out like a toothpaste tube. As the chèvre ages, it firms up more and becomes more difficult to do, but I suspect that you could leave it out at room temperature for a while. I just use a spoon to knock off bits every so often.
    – Joe
    Oct 18, 2023 at 11:27
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Just for completeness, I'll post a kind of negative answer here. My point is that I would advise against extrusion.

The kitchen equivalent of a caulking gun is a syringe-like device that's intended as a reusable replacement for pastry bags. The more widespread version is made from not-so-stable plastic and is intended for cake decoration. It works with soft substances like buttercream, and if you pack it full of goat cheese, I expect it to either not expel anything, or break. The sturdier version, which is used to press a log of cookie dough with shaped edges, may be able to extrude goat cheese - or maybe not, since the ones which can be fit with a small diameter nozzle are more likely to be intended as double-duty, and it's possible that it only has enough force to push soft creams through a small nozzle. In any case, these devices are very messy. If you can get them to work, the pizza itself will look pretty, but filling, using and taking apart the device creates quite the mess.

A similar argument can be made against the second type of extruder in the kitchen, the meat grinder. It will produce strands of cheese, but they will most likely stick together immediately. And even if you manage to get a standard-sized meat grinder to work with a single log of goat cheese, half of your cheese will end up as waste, and taking apart and cleaning the grinder could take longer than baking and eating the pizza.

At this softness, you might just about get away with the third option for extrusion - a spätzle press. If you get the cast aluminum cylinder type that gelaterias also use for spaghetti ice cream, and process small pieces at a time, you will end up with strands similar to the spaghetti ice cream. Again, you won't be able to separate the mass well when it falls onto the pizza, and the cleaning involves some time with a brush and a toothpick.

So, for all possible extrusion devices, you can expect that in all factors - cheese piece "niceness", cheese waste, and time spent cleaning - they are much worse than your current method of using a knife.

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    I agree, but a piping syringe that uses nozzles with a wide screw thread, and the nozzle omitted might just work. A sausage filler (even a cheap nasty thing from amazon) would be sure to extrude soft cheese, and if its parts could be put through a dishwasher would be a handy but wasteful way of getting the wrong shape of cheese onto a pizza.
    – Chris H
    Oct 17, 2023 at 14:50
  • @ChrisH interesting options, especially the sausage filler. I must admit though, I wouldn't want a sausage-thick snake of cheese on my pizza. May be an option for something like a calzone, that gets (geometrically) thicker filling.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 17, 2023 at 16:32
  • Indeed; if I use goat's cheese I slice and place it with 2 table knives, or one and a spatula. But I'm more likely to have blue cheese, or even feta
    – Chris H
    Oct 17, 2023 at 19:02
  • If I was making pizza this week I'd get some similar cheese and demonstrate - because I want it now. But I'm going out for pizza so won't make one
    – Chris H
    Oct 17, 2023 at 19:16
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In addition to any technique for cutting, freezing or partially freezing the cheese will make it less sticky and easier to work with. When frozen, it will be more likely to break apart. If you're looking for nice looking slices, you can get a bowl of hot water and dip your knife in that.

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Presumably the reason you care about your fingers getting covered in cheese is that you're trying to do a bunch of pizzas in a row and don't want to keep washing them. If so, I have solution for you:

Get an extra-small cookie scoop, like a 2 Teaspoon one.

Not only will the scoop keep your hands clean, it'll help you portion the goat cheese evenly across the pizza. Plus they're useful for all kinds of other portioning tasks.

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    That’s probably slower than just taking a spoon to the log. I just cut it with the side of a spoon while still in the package, and can then mostly sprinkle the bits out onto the pizza or flatbread. (May need to spread it out some if it falls as a clump)
    – Joe
    Oct 18, 2023 at 11:29
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    Joe: I find that chevre tends to stick to a spoon and need my thumb to come loose.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 18, 2023 at 17:42
  • it can, but it’s like it something sticks to your knife, just keep going and the next bit will push the stuck part, and you only need to clean it at the end
    – Joe
    Oct 18, 2023 at 20:59
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You could try using unflavored floss to cut off slices of cheese and section the slices into the size you want. If you do this on a cutting board, then you can scrape the pieces off the cutting board onto the pizza.

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Use a wire cubing tool with cheese wire, in a wood frame, on your cheese when nearly frozen. Maybe toss with whey protein powder to prevent stickiness, or lay the cubes out to dry.

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