Hams were frozen, stored, and thawed before dry-curing to study the profiles of quality as related to environmental conditions. Quality appraisals and sampling were done after thawing, after curing, and after 30 days aging in an atmosphere where temperature and relative humidity were controlled at about 34.5 C and 62.5%, respectively. The pH, water, NaCl, and fat contents were determined. Surface pH of hams increased from the thawed fresh state to the unstored cured state, but decreased generally after the aging period (stored cured ham). The pH was higher on the surface than that of corresponding internal areas. The pH of the internal tissue was lower for thawed product than cured or aged product. The average percent water decreased during curing and aging periods. Water loss after curing and after aging in the prefrozen hams was greater than that reported for unfrozen hams. The quantity of water, NaCl, and fat varied among the several muscle areas and reasons for variation are discussed. All hams were of acceptable quality at each appraisal period. Decreasing moisture levels of hams were reflected by decreases in conformation scores throughout the processing periods. Increased firmness was accompanied by weight loss, moisture loss, and increased NaCl percentage.
1Present Address: Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061.
2To whom correspondence should be addressed.