When you’re in college, it’s perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged, to finish a pizza that’s been left out on the counter over night. But what about a pizza that could last on your counter for up to three years?
Researchers at the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts have been developing a recipe for pizza that won’t require any freezing or refrigeration. But the special formula, which has been in development for the last two years, isn’t intended for hungover college kids. It’s for soldiers who need meals ready to eat (MREs).
“You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it’d still be edible,” Michelle Richardson, a food scientist at the center told the Associated Press.
To keep bacteria-causing moisture from growing on the pizza, researchers are experimenting with ingredients such as sugar, salt and syrups that can act as binders to water, keeping it out of the dough.
The goal is for soldiers to be able to eat these packaged pizzas at any time at room temperature.
But even if a pizza can last for three years, it also has to taste good. Food technologists acting as early taste testers in the lab say the pizza isn’t bad.
“It tastes pretty much [like] what you would get from a pizza parlor,” said food technologist Dan Nattress.
Jill Bates, who runs the taste lab, told the Associated Press, “The only thing missing from that experience would be it’s not hot when you eat it. It’s room temperature.”
A turkey pepperoni pizza is currently in the works.
According to Richardson, soldiers frequently ask for pizza to be part of MRE field rations. These meals are necessary for areas where there are no military kitchens.
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