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The Secret to Stretching Mozzarella

Melty mozzarella cheese comes in two forms. Fresh mozza is soft, creamy, and often packed in water. When it gets dehydrated, salted, and shredded, you end up with America's most popular topper for anything Italian.

Photography: Randy Mayor; Food Styling: Kellie Gerber Kelley; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower

We prefer fresh, and here's why: As the pizza on the right shows, fresh mozza has more ooey-gooey melting power, especially when you use the slicing trick described below. A side-by-side nutrition comparison also reveals that fresh has about 160mg less sodium per ounce than pre-shredded. Fresh mozzarella leaves extra room for salty toppings—pepperoni, anchovies, olives—while keeping the numbers for the whole pie in a healthier zone.

Soft cheeses can be hard to slice, so here's the trick: Pat the mozza ball dry, and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. You'll be able to cut paper-thin slices, and just 4 ounces will yield creamy, cheesy coverage.

Shredded Part-Skim Mozza: 334 calories, 3.5g sat fat, and 692mg sodium per serving* Fresh Mozza: 323 calories, 3g sat fat, and 534mg sodium per serving*

*Nutrition reflects 1/4 pizza made with 12 ounces fresh dough, 1 cup lower-sodium marinara, and 4 ounces mozzarella cheese.