EFFECT OF EXTENDED AGING UPON TEXTURAL ASPECTS OF TRADITIONAL BULGARIAN DRY-CURED HAM
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of prolong ripening and drying on quality aspects of traditional Bulgarian dry cured ham. After 8, 18 and 36 months of aging comparative textural profiling of dry cured ham were established. Ham sensory profile as well as physicochemical, morphological characteristics, proteolysis index and Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF) were investigated. Excessive aging up to 36 months of dry-cured ham lead to decreased hardness, but lower sensory values, characterizing overall textural perception tenderness of the samples. Hams of higher ripening and drying had statistically significant increased proteolysis index and lower values of WBSF. Morphological analysis revealed significant qualitative and quantitative differences between sample groups. Thus, miofibrilar fragments increased remarkably in samples with higher proteolysis index scores. In addition, longest aging hams showed increased degradation for a total myofibrillar structure. Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBS) had a significant relationship with the sensory tenderness variables, such as softness, chewiness, and rate of breakdown in mouth.