Eight groups of hams with different characteristics (pork age, intramuscular fat and Cathepsin B activity) were fixed for the four types of ham investigated in this project. A total of 640 raw hams were selected according with the experimental design and then characterized by visual attributes and chemical and physical analysis in order to correlate it with the end product evaluation. Each stage of process was monitorised controlling air conditions, weight loss and other parameters. An expert panel for sensory evaluation of dry-cured ham analysed the eight categories of hams.
On the basis of the results obtained in the SIPEHAM project, the planned changes and improvements of matured Parma, Estero, Serrano and Iberico hams in order to lower the salt content could be achieved establishing suitable ranges for some parameters like, fat content, Cathepsin B activity, pH.
The new SIPEHAM methodology for manufacturing low salted dry-cured ham has been successfully implemented by some of the partners participating in the project. These companies already offer a new low salted product to their clients. The specific methodologies obtained for the Serrano and Iberian hams are planned to be exploited by the companies involved.
The SIPEHAM dealt with developing a new methodology, which permits the selection of raw material on-line, for the manufacture of long-aged low salted ham (Serrano, Ibérico, Parma and Light). This selection is based mainly on the determination of the proteolytic activity, age and physico-chemical characteristics of the raw material. The partners of this project were slaughterhouses and dry-cured ham factories from Spain and Italy. AINIA (Instituto Tecnológico Agroalimentario) in Valencia (Spain) and SSICA (Stazione Sperimentale per la Industria e la Conserva Alimentaria) in Parma (Italy) were responsible of the research work.
The original research objectives of the SIPEHAM project were the following:
-Establishing categories based on proteolytic activity determined by the cathepsin B, pork age and intramuscular fat of raw material;
-Study of performance of every raw material category when subjected to standard process conditions;
-Evaluation of physico-chemical and sensory conditions of final product;
-Establishing correlations between characteristics for raw product and sensory quality of final product.