Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center have finally come up with the most-requested item for MREs (meals ready to eat). They’ve created two types of pepperoni pizza (pork and turkey) which need not be refrigerated, frozen, or baked. “You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it’d still be edible,” food scientist Michelle Richardson told the Associated Press. “It’ll still be edible” is as good as you’re going to get with an MRE. Success!
But how the heck did they keep pizza from going soggy for three years? SCIENCE.
Scientists’ efforts were long thwarted because moisture in tomato sauce, cheese and toppings migrated to the dough over time, resulting in soggy pizza that provided the perfect conditions for mold and disease-causing bacteria to grow.
But on-and-off research over the past few years helped them figure out ways to prevent moisture from migrating. That includes using ingredients called humectants — sugar, salt and syrups can do the trick — that bind to water and keep it from getting to the dough.
But that alone would not help the pizza remain fresh for three years at 80 degrees, so scientists tweaked the acidity of the sauce, cheese and dough to make it harder for oxygen and bacteria to thrive. They also added iron filings to the package to absorb any air remaining in the pouch.
We don’t have the rights to use the photos, but you can check those out over at the AP. It looks vaguely pizza-ish. I’d eat it. But how does it taste?
Jill Bates, who runs the researchers’ taste lab, compares it to a pan pizza, with a crust that isn’t very crispy. Technologist Dan Nattress told the AP, “It tastes pretty much what you would get from a pizza parlor.” What the hell kind of pizza parlors do they have in Natick, Massachusetts?
Also, if anybody thinks pepperoni pizzas aren’t a healthy option for our soldiers, may we remind you of the food pyramid?