Pizza With 3-Year Shelf-Life Developed By U.S. Military.

Pizza With 3-Year Shelf-Life Developed By U.S. Military.

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    Pizza With 3-Year Shelf-Life Developed By U.S. Military.

    Pizza with 3-year shelf-life developed by U.S. military - Technology & Science - CBC News

    They call it the holy grail of ready-to-eat meals for soldiers: a pizza that can stay on the shelf for up to three years and still remain good to eat.

    Soldiers have been asking for pizza since lightweight individual field rations — known as meals ready to eat, or MREs — replaced canned food in 1981 for soldiers in combat zones or areas where field kitchens cannot be set up.

    Researchers at a U.S. military lab in Massachusetts are closing in on a recipe that doesn't require any refrigeration or freezing.

    'It pretty much tastes just like a typical pan pizza that you would make at home.'- Jill Bates, U.S. military researcher

    "You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it'd still be edible," said Michelle Richardson, a food scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

    Scientists at the Natick labs also are responsible for developing equipment and clothing that improves soldiers' combat effectiveness and their survival, but the quest for good pizza has become known as the holy grail there.

    Pizza is one of the most requested items when soldiers are asked every year what they'd like to see in their rations, said Richardson, who has spent nearly two years developing the recipe in a large kitchen full of commercial equipment.

    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 mould and disease-causing bacteria to grow.
    Humectants, acidity tweaks, iron filings

    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.
    MRE Pizza

    Food technologist Tom Yang cuts a prototype pizza at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, in Natick, Mass., where the recipe is being tweaked and tested. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)

    But that alone would not help the pizza remain fresh for three years at 27 degrees Celsius, 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.

    How does it taste?

    Most soldiers haven't tried it because it's still being developed, but Jill Bates, who runs the lab, said she was happy after tasting the latest prototype batch of pepperoni. She describes it as a pan pizza, with a crust that's a little moist and not super-crispy.

    "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," she said. "The only thing missing from that experience would be it's not hot when you eat it. It's room temperature."
    Pork-free option

    Turkey pepperoni pizza also will be available for soldiers who do not eat pork products.

    David Accetta, a former Army lieutenant colonel and spokesman for the lab, tried the pizza and also liked it. He said having food soldiers can relate to and enjoy has added benefits.

    "In a lot of cases, when you are cold and tired and hungry, having a hot meal that's something that you like and you would get at home, it increases your morale — and we consider that to be a force multiplier," Accetta said.

    Spaghetti is the most popular MRE option. It has been on the menu since MREs were introduced, and it is the one thing that soldiers have never recommended be removed from MREs. Vegetarian tortellini is also one of the most popular choices.

    The lab brings in food technologists to taste recipes and give feedback.

    One of the technologists, Dan Nattress, agreed the pizza deserves a thumbs-up.

    "It tastes pretty much what you would get from a pizza parlour," he said.
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    Ex Member Array Longstreet's Avatar
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    I think that's about how long the last pizza we got from Pizza Hut had been sitting at their place before they delivered it........

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    FINALLY!!! MRE quality has been getting much better over the last 5 years, I'll be looking forward to trying it!
    Wonder what sides they will pack with it. Add a lemon poppyseed poundcake and you have exceptional trading fare.
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    Ex Member Array Longstreet's Avatar
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    She describes it as a pan pizza, with a crust that's a little moist and not super-crispy.

    "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," she said. "The only thing missing from that experience would be it's not hot when you eat it. It's room temperature."
    Maybe for survival food it would be good. If I have a choice.....give me Spam.
    Arejay, msgt/ret, molleur and 1 others like this.

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    I think I have pizza in the back of my refrigerator that is 3 years old, does that count?
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    I've had most of the Menu A and B MRE's and I disagree about them tasting better. Between the vegan meals and the Mexican dishes I am not impressed.
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    Member Array Bozz10mm's Avatar
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    I always liked the old C-rations better than the MRE's. Beef with spiced sauce was good. Even the eggs and lima beans were ok if you were hungry.
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    It would be interesting to read a list of the chemicals that are going into that extended shelf life pizza.
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    Granny, thats just what I was thinking! what is IN that pizza?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickyD View Post
    I think I have pizza in the back of my refrigerator that is 3 years old, does that count?

    You too? I'm not sure what was on it..
    EN MI VIDA AL MAL NO TEMERÉ, POR QUE EN MI CORAZÓN Y MIS DOS .38 SUPER COLT.

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    Only 3 years. We ate C Rations in the mid 60's that were dated in the mid to late 40's. That 20 year old canned ham looked real good when you opened a cold can and saw that congealed grease! Beannie weenies were good!
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    Think I'll pass on the pizza. By and large, MRE's are not a big improvement over the C's. Just better packaging.
    Just be happy they have done away with K's.
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    I think the last pizza I got from our Pizza Hut was one of those 3 year old ones. Tasted like it was 3 years old anyway.
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    Everytime I helped my college student son move to a new place I saw plenty of three year old pizza behind his couch.
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    Being a expert in all that is Pizza....all I can say is YES!
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