Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Sensory quality of dry-cured hams

The project is designed to identify the biochemical processes responsible for the development of the sensory characteristics of dry-cured hams, and to use this knowledge in establishing predictive models for quality grading and certification, while taking into account the diversity which is characteristic of this product. It is also assessing the role of certain factors responsible for sensory quality. The project has three parts and some data from part one are presented here. One hundred and eighty hams were analysed for water and protein contents and for free amino acids, non-protein nitrogen, volatile compounds, collagen and lipids. They were also tested for texture and colour, and sensory analysis by consumers was performed in France, Italy and Spain. Marked differences were observed in composition and physical characteristics. Corsican hams were drier and harder than the others. Iberian hams were characterized by low salt and high fat contents. Both Spanish types showed extensive proteolysis while analysis of the volatile compounds permitted the segregation of hams into Iberian, Corsican and 'other' categories. Statistical analysis of the data for the `other' category allowed discrimination between Serrano, Bayonne and Italian hams. In France and Italy, Corsican and Iberian hams received lower scores than the other types from consumers. In contrast, Iberian and Serrano hams were preferred in Spain. In the three countries, Light Italian Bayonne and Parma received a similar assessment. Part of the differences in sensory quality can be explained by variations in chemical composition.

The dynamic headspace-mass spectrometry technique allows product type recognition at a rate of 89% and the method is promising for grading sensory quality. The pyrolysis-mass spectrometry technique allows product type recognition at a rate of 97%, with an analysis time of 1.5 min per sample. This technique appears promising for on-line control of quality.

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63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle
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