Pizza Delivery Three Years Later: Military Developing Long-Lasting Version of Favorite Comfort Food
The pizza won't be fresh and hot out of the oven with pepperoni sizzling, and cheese dripping and stretching as the slices are pulled apart, but military troops may at long last get their most requested comfort food — at room temperature.
The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Engineering, and Development Center in Natick, Mass. is developing pizza with a shelf-life of three years.
"It pretty much tastes just like a typical pan pizza that you would make at home and take out of the oven or the toaster oven," lab team member Jill Bates told the Associated Press, according to a report in the Smithsonian "The only thing missing from that experience would be it's not hot when you eat it. It's room temperature."
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Hot or not, the fact that the pizza will be safe to eat for three years is an achievement in military MREs, considering ingredients. Attempts at developing a long-lasting pizza for military personnel hit many challenges because moisture in tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings soaked into the dough over time, not only resulting in soggy pizza, but creating inviting conditions for mold and disease-causing bacteria, The Washington Post reported.
Military food researchers, determined to bring a slice of home to the troops, found through trial-and-error that ingredients called humectants, such as sugar, salt and syrups, can keep the moist ingredients from soaking into the dough. Still, it had to remain fresh in heat, so the scientists tweaked the acidity of the ingredients.
Taste-testing of the MRE pizza is expected in August, the Smithsonian reported. Production of the full-baked pizza could begin as early as next year.
Cooking up — or rather, mixing up and packaging — comfort foods from home goes beyond U.S. military food laboratories and American troops. The efforts are aimed at those who serve in space, as well. Researchers at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece have been conducting experiments in pursuit of tantalizing, crispy French fries. Why? A Russian cosmonaut said he'd like fried potatoes and the effort to create yummy fries was important enough to be funded by the European Space Agency.
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