Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Prateek Sharma


Prateek Sharma


Taylor Oberg


Eric Bastian


Mozzarella cheese is expected to melt, stretch, release free oil and exhibit browning and blistering when baked on pizza. This research aimed to investigate the effects of different starter cultures (based on lactose and galactose utilizing ability) and calcium levels on the functionality of Mozzarella cheese when baked on pizza. Four combinations of starter cultures using S. thermophilus (STI 06)-control, Lac+ Gal+ L. helveticus (LH 32), and Lac- Gal+ adjunct culture L. helveticus (LH 7995) were used to make the cheese samples. Various tests were conducted over a seven-week period to evaluate their baking properties. The melting of the cheese was studied using an MCR- 302 Rheometer, and the amount of release of free oil was measured. The pizzas were baked, and image analysis was used to determine the extent of browning and blistering on each pizza. The cheese made with LH-7995 exhibited less browning on the pizza after four weeks, which was attributed to reduced levels of galactose, a major contributor to the browning reaction. Over the storage period, tendency to brown on pizza increased for Mozzarella cheese increased due to continuous proteolysis. In addition, Mozzarella cheese samples were prepared with different levels of calcium by adjusting the whey drain pH (6.4, 6.0, 5.6) during the production process. Cheese samples with a higher drain pH had 15.4% higher levels of insoluble calcium compared to samples with a lower drain pH. Samples with a low calcium showed more free oil release, better melting and less browning. Free oil prevents excessive browning by forming a layer on top of pizza during baking therefore, leading to low browning and blistering. The functional properties of Mozzarella cheese can be significantly improved by using gal+ bacteria cultures and adjusting the insoluble calcium levels. These findings offer insights into enhancing the quality of Mozzarella cheese for different applications.