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MEAT SCIENCE

Meat Science 72 (2006) 757765 www.elsevier.com/locate/meatsci

Accelerated processing of dry-cured ham. Part I. Viability of the use of brine thawing/salting operation
M. Barat a, Rau n a J. Paga n a, Mo nica Flores c, l Grau a, J.B. Iba Jose ez b, Mar c,* a , Pedro Fito Fidel Toldra
a

a de Alimentos, Universidad Polite cnica de Valencia, Camino de Vera s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain Departamento de Tecnolog b ` ria i Tecnologia Agroalimenta ` ria, Campus de Montilivi, 17071 Girona, Spain mica, Agra Departament dEnginyeria Qu c mica y Tecnolog a de Alimentos (CSIC), Apartado de Correos 73, 46100, Burjassot, Valencia, Spain Instituto de Agroqu Received 24 June 2005; received in revised form 14 October 2005; accepted 14 October 2005

Abstract In a previous study, the brine thawing/salting operation using frozen hams as raw material was proposed in order to obtain accelerated processing of dry-cured hams. The time needed to reach the same NaCl concentration on a dry weight basis and the same NaCl concentration in the ham liquid phase for the deeper areas at the end of the post-salting stage were determined. The aim of this work was to study the inuence of the brine thawing/salting operation on the whole dry-cured ham manufacturing process, using the traditional thawing and salting methods as control. The obtained results indicate that although a strong reduction in the thawing, salting and post-salting stages is obtained by using brine thawing/salting, the time needed in the dry-curing and maturing phases increases compared to those traditionally processed, probably due to the absence of pile salting and thus the reduction in the thickness of the ham piece as a consequence of the ham pressing. From the composition and microbiological point of view, no signicant dierences were observed among the hams processed by the dierent treatments. 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Brine thawing; Vacuum impregnation; Dry-cured ham; Accelerated processing

1. Introduction A simultaneous brine thawing/salting operation has been proposed for the processing of frozen meat products which are salted after thawing (Barat, Grau, Montero, Chiralt, & Fito, 2001; Ngapo, Babare, & Mawson, 1998). Frozen ham constitutes one of the products that can be processed through the simultaneous brine thawing/salting n-Moroperation as recently reported (Barat, Grau, Paga eno, & Fito, 2005). The results from this study showed a very signicant reduction of the thawing and salting time needed to reach a NaCl concentration, on a dry weight basis, similar to that obtained in the traditional pile salting
*

Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 96 3900022; fax: +34 96 3636301. ). E-mail address: ftoldra@iata.csic.es (F. Toldra

method. In fact, the use of brine thawing/salting with saturated brine in fresh and thawed hams allowed 58% and 61% time reductions, respectively, in relation to the tradi n-Moreno, et al., 2005). tional process (Barat, Grau, Paga A post-salting stage was also performed for thawed/ salted hams using saturated brine and compared to those thawed traditionally in a cold chamber and pile salted n (Barat, Grau, Iba ez, & Fito, 2005). The time needed to reach the same NaCl concentration in the ham liquid phase for the deeper zones when using brine thawing/salting was determined. The riskiest area was considered to be the surroundings of the femoral vein localised in the widest section of the ham, due to the lower NaCl concentration reached, its higher moisture content and aw values observed during the process, and the possible pathway oered by the femoral vein for microorganism penetration.

0309-1740/$ - see front matter 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2005.10.013

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A marked reduction in the post-salting time needed to reach similar NaCl concentrations in the liquid phase of the ham critical point was reduced, from 50 to 25 days, while lower weight loses at the end of the post-salting period were observed when compared to the traditionally pile salted hams. Typical weight losses up to 34% occur by the , 2002, 2004). end of the traditional process (Toldra The aim of this work was to study the inuence of the simultaneous brine thawing/salting method on the whole dry-cured ham manufacturing process using optimized salting and post-salting conditions, as compared to the traditional thawing and salting methods. This comparison included mass transfer, microbiological, biochemical and sensory assays. 2. Materials and methods Sixty fresh hams with an average weight of 9.14 1.04 kg were selected in a local slaughterhouse with pHs within the 5.76.3 range. All the hams were frozen in an industrial freezer at 40 C and stored for at least 30 days at 20 C, in order to obtain a frozen raw material which could resemble the product usually used commercially. Twelve hams were thawed in a cold chamber at 3 C for 5 days, as in a typical industrial process (Ban on, Cayuela, Granados, & Garrido, 1999), and pile salted for 9 days (TPS). The remaining 48 hams were divided into two groups of 24 hams. Both groups were brine thawed/ salted in saturated brine, one of them at atmospheric pres n-Moreno, et al., sure (BTS) for 5 days (Barat, Grau, Paga 2005) and the other group for a total of 3 days, applying a vacuum pulse when the hams were thawed (2.3 days) n-Moreno, et al., 2005) (BTS-TP). The (Barat, Grau, Paga vacuum pulse submitted the system (the hams immersed in the saturated brine) to vacuum for 3 h, restoring the atmospheric pressure after that time, and thus promoting the action of the hydrodynamic mechanism (Fito et al., 2001). All the salting experiments were carried out at 3 C. At the end of each of the salting periods all hams were weighed and placed in a chamber with controlled temperature and relative humidity. The post-salting stage was carried out for 50 days for the thawed pile-salted (TPS) hams (3 C and 90% air relative humidity). Twelve of the brine/ thawed salted hams with and without vacuum pulse, BTSTP50 and BTS50, respectively, were stored for 40 days at 3 C and 90% air relative humidity, and the last 10 days

at 7 C and 85% air relative humidity. The remaining brine/thawed salted hams were post-salted for 25 days (BTS-TP25 and BTS25) (20 days at 3 C and 90% air relative humidity, and the last 5 days at 7 C and 85% air relative humidity), which was determined to be the minimum n time needed for the post-salting stage (Barat, Grau, Iba ez, et al., 2005). At the end of the post-salting stage, the hams were taken to the last processing stage (dry-ripening). During this period, the initial combination of temperature and air relative humidity was 13 C and 77%, respectively (until hams reached a total weight loss, related to the initial frozen weight, equal to the 24%), and then at 22 C and 73%. The process stopped when 34% total weight loss was reached. The processing conditions are summarised in Table 1. 2.1. Sampling In all the experiments, three hams were analyzed at the end of the salting, post-salting and dry-maturation stages for microbial and compositional analysis. The changes in weight throughout the whole process were determined on the six hams which were processed to obtain the dry-cured ham. NaCl and moisture analyses were carried out on each ham using four samples; three of them were obtained from the widest section of the ham (A, B and C points in Fig. 1) and the fourth from the whole homogenized ham muscle (R) (without the rind, fat layer). Each sample was thoroughly homogenized before determining the moisture and sodium chloride content. Additionally, the water activity of each sample was determined. The microbial analysis was accomplished on three samples taken from each ham; from the ham surface (muscles Semimembranosus and Quadriceps femoris) named surface, from the zone near to the femoral vein (intersection of the muscles Biceps femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus) named as vein and one from near the subcutaneous fat (muscle Biceps femoris) named as depth. 2.2. Analytical determinations Sodium chloride was determined after sample homogenization in a known amount of distilled water at 9000 rpm in an ultraturrax T25 for 5 min and centrifuged to remove any

Table 1 Summary of the processing conditions employed in the experiments Treatment code TPS BTS25 BTS50 BTS-TP25 BTS-TP50 Number of samples 12 12 12 12 12 Thawing (days) T = 3 C 90% RH 5 0 0 0 0 Salting (days) T = 3 C 9 5 5 3 3 (90% RH) (brine) (brine) (brine-vacuum) (brine-vacuum) Post-salting (days) T = 3 C 90% RH 40 20 40 20 40 T = 7 C 83% RH 10 5 10 5 10 Total days 50 25 50 25 50 Ripening conditions 1st period 13 C, 77% RH 2nd period 22 C, 73% RH

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 Coliforms. The 5-tube MPN method using brilliant green bile 2% (Merck) with fermentation tubes was used to estimate coliforms densities. Tubes showing gas within 48 h were considered positive.  Salmonella. A 25 g sample was pre-enriched in 225 ml peptone water for 24 h at 37 C, and 10 ml were transferred to 90 ml of Selenito broth (Merck), which was incubated at 43 C for 24 h. A loopful of enrichment broth was streaked onto plates of bismuth sulphite agar (Merck). After incubation for 24 h, Salmonella suspicious colonies were transferred to triple sugar iron agar (Merck) slants and conrmed by means of the conventional test in Bergeys Manual.
Fig. 1. Samples analyzed from the widest ham section.

2.4. Statistics ne debris present in the sample. Afterwards, the solution was ltered and a sample of exactly 500 ll was taken and titrated in a Chloride Analyzer equipment (CIBA Corning Mod. 926) (Guamis et al., 1997). Moisture content was determined by oven drying to constant weight at 100 C (ISO R-1442). The water activity of each sample was determined using an Aqualab dew point hygrometer (Decagon Devices Inc., Washington, USA). 2.3. Microbiological analysis The microbial counts were determined using the pour plate, the surface plate or the most probable number (MPN) method. The following counts were made on all samples:  Aerobic counts. Plate count agar (Merck). Duplicate pour plates were prepared per dilution and incubated at 30 C for 72 h.  Sulphite-reducing clostridia. The 5-tube MPN method using SPS agar (Merck) was employed. The tubes were incubated at 46 C for 48 h under anaerobic conditions. Black colonies were considered sulphite-reducing clostridia.  Clostridium perfringens. The 5-tube MPN method using TSN agar (Merck) was employed. The tubes were incubated at 46 C for 48 h under anaerobic conditions. Black colonies were considered to be C. perfringens.  Staphylococcus aureus. A direct search for S. aureus was made by streaking 0.1 ml of the appropriate dilutions onto BairdParker agar (Merck) Incubation lasted 48 h at 37 C. Black colonies were considered to be staphylococci and were transferred to brain heart infusion broth (Difco), nutrient agar (Difco) slants, and DNAse agar (Difco) plates. The broth was used to test for coagulase, the slants for catalase and the plates for thermonuclease. The direct tube method using coagulase rabbit plasma (Difco) was used to determine coagulase activity. Isolates which were catalase, DNAse and coagulase positive within 418 h were considered to be S. aureus. ANOVA treatment of data was performed using the Statgraphics Plus version 5.1 (Manugistics Inc., Rockville, MD, USA). 3. Results and discussion 3.1. Thawing and salting stage In a previous study, the NaCl concentration to be reached at the end of the salting process, was 0.069 (w/w) n-Moreno, et al., on a dry basis (d.b.) (Barat, Grau, Paga 2005). The obtained NaCl concentrations in this work were 0.063 0.006 (w/w), 0.086 0.008 (w/w) and 0.066 0.0052 (w/w) for the thawed and salted hams with the traditional method (TPS), and the thawed and salted hams in saturated brine with (BTS-TP) and without (BTS) a vacuum pulse, respectively. The statistical analysis of the data revealed the absence of signicant dierences in the NaCl concentration, on a dry weight basis, at the end of the salting process. The changes in weight at the end of the thawing and salting process were 0.082 0.009 (w/w), 0.010 0.001 (w/w) and 0.001 0.002 (w/w) for TPS, BTS-TP and BTS, respectively. As in the previous study (Barat, Grau, n-Moreno, et al., 2005), a marked inuence of the spePaga cic processing conditions on the ham weight changes was observed. 3.2. Changes in hams weight through the whole process Total weight changes throughout the whole process are shown in Fig. 2 for all the treatments. Dierences in weight loss during the salting period were remarkable. The thawed and salted hams using saturated brine (BTS) had a higher weight loss during the post-salting stage compared with the traditionally treated hams (TPS), probably due to lower surface dehydration in the salting step. Nevertheless, the total ham weight loss, as referred to the initial frozen ham weight, was higher for the thawed and salted hams by the traditional method (TPS), except for the BTS-

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a
0 -0.05 -0.1 -0.15 -0.2 -0.25 -0.3 -0.35
M t

25

50

75

100 125 150 175 200 225 250 275 300


t (days)

Salting Post-salting thawed

Dry-maduration

Reference value

-0.4 -0.45

TPS
b
0.1 0.05 0 -0.05 -0.1 -0.15 -0.2 -0.25 -0.3 -0.35 -0.4 M t -0.45 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 175 200 225 250 275 300
Post-salting

Salting

t (days)

Dry-maduration

Reference value

BTS-TP (25)
c
0.1 0.05 0 -0.05 -0.1 -0.15 -0.2 -0.25 -0.3 -0.35 Mt -0.4 0 25
Salting Post-salting

BTS-TP (50)

50

75

100 125 150 175 200 225 250 275 300 t (days)

Dry-maduration

Reference value

BTS (25)

BTS (50)

Fig. 2. Total weight changes throughout the processing stages for the salted hams following the traditional method (TPS) (a), for the brine thawed/salted hams applying or not a vacuum pulse with 25 and 50 days of post-salting (BTS-TP(25), BTS-TP(50) (b) and BTS (25), BTS (50) (c), respectively).

TP(25) which reached the same weight loss as the TPS hams after 34 days of processing and behaved simultaneously to the TPS hams during the following stages. This behaviour implied that the brine thawed and salted hams, with the exception of the BTS-TP(25) batch, reached the same total weight reduction of 34%, which marked the end of processing, although in a longer time. The ham weight at the end of each stage and the total process for a nal 34% weight loss are shown in Table 2. A possible explanation for the dierences in the total processing time needed to reach the 34% total weight loss are the dierences in the ham section (Fig. 3) as a consequence of ham pressing during the pile salting stage. A picture of two ham sections, clearly dierent, can be observed

in Fig. 3. Fig. 3(a) corresponds to a dry-cured ham which was brine thawed and salted. It can be seen to be a more irregular section, which resembles the original fresh ham. Fig. 3(b) is a dry-cured ham which was pile salted. It can be seen as a pressed section, and as a consequence, has a decreased maximum thickness compared with the brine thawed and salted ham. A possible way of reducing the differences observed due to the thawing and salting process would be either in pressing the ham during the brine salting or pressing it for one or two days after the brine salting period. The decrease would increase the drying rate and so decrease the total processing time. On the other hand, some producers could be interested in producing a dry-cured ham with a section similar to that observed in Fig. 3(a).

J.M. Barat et al. / Meat Science 72 (2006) 757765 Table 2 Ham weight changes at the end of each stage and the total processing time needed to reach a nal weight decrease of 34% Treatment code End of thawing DM 0 t s.d. TPS BTS (25) BTS (50) BTS-TP (25) BTS-TP (50) 0.019 0.009 0 0 0 0
a

761

End of salting DM 0 t s.d. 0.086 0.020 0.033 0.006b 0.021 0.006b 0.031 0.010b 0.031 0.006b
a

End of post-Salting t (d) 9 5 5 3 3 DM 0 t s.d. 0.164 0.034 0.041 0.010b 0.069 0.007b 0.054 0.021b 0.073 0.011b
a

Dry-ripening until M0 t % 34% t (d) 50 25 50 25 50 DM 0 t s.d. 0.3390 0.042 0.3311 0.008a 0.3199 0.039a 0.3424 0.043a 0.3330 0.029a
a

Total time t (d) 165 258 242 188 232 t (d) 229 288 297 216 285

Means in a column with dierent letters are signicantly dierent. P < 0.05.

Fig. 3. Cross-section of two dry-cured hams; brine thawed and salted (a) and pile salted (b).

3.3. Values of the NaCl concentration, moisture and water activity of the A, B and C points at the end of the salting, post-salting and ripening The zNaCl, xw and aw values for the A, B and C points (Fig. 1) of the hams widest section at the end of the salting, post-salting and dry-ripening are shown in Figs. 46. The zNaCl at the end of the dry-ripening period was the same at all points, which indicates that from the NaCl transfer point of view, equilibrium can be considered to be achieved. On the other hand, the dierences in aw values inside the ham should have to be considered as the driving

force for water transport (Marinos-Kouris & Maroulis, 1995). The aw values at the A, B and C points at the end of the dry-ripening period, indicate that the hams were not in equilibrium, with the minimum aw values point A (close to the surface), as a consequence of the low relative humidity of the air in the drying chambers at the end of processing. Another marked aspect is that the BTS hams had a lower zNaCl value at A point at the end of the salting period than the other hams and a lower moisture gradient inside the ham at the end of the ripening stage. It was conrmed that the desired zNaCl value at point B (>0.02), n determined with fresh hams (Barat, Grau, Iba ez, et al.,
TPS

zNaCl
0.12 0.1 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0 0 100 200 300

aw
1.02 1 0.98 0.96 0.94 0.92 0.9 0.88 0.86 0 100 200 300

xW
0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0 100 200 300

t (days)

Fig. 4. Values of the NaCl concentration in the ham liquid phase (zNaCl), moisture (xw) and water activity (aw) of the A, B and C points at the end of the salting, post-salting and ripening periods, respectively, for the salted hams with the traditional method (TPS).

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BTS-TP (25) zNaCl


0.12 0.1 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0
0 100 200 300

aw
1.02 1 0.98 0.96 0.94 0.92 0.9 0.88 0 100 200 300

xW
0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0 100 200 300

t (days)
A B C

BTS-TP (50) z
NaCl

aw
1.02 1 0.98 0.96 0.94 0.92 0.9 0.88

xW
0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0 100 200 300 0 100 200 300

0.12 0.1 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0 0 100 200 300

t (days)

Fig. 5. Values of the NaCl concentration in the ham liquid phase (zNaCl), moisture (xw) and water activity (aw) of the A, B and C points at the end of the salting, post-salting and ripening periods, respectively, for the brine thawed/salted hams applying a vacuum pulse with 25 and 50 days of post-salting (BTS-TP(25) and BTS-TP(50)).

BTS (25)
zNaCl
0.12 0.1 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0 0 100 200 300

aw
1.02 1 0.98 0.96 0.94 0.92 0.9 0.88 0 100 200 300

xW
0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0 100 200 300

t (days)
A B C

zNaCl
0.12 0.1 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0 0 100 200 300

BTS (50)
aw
1.02 1 0.98 0.96 0.94 0.92 0.9 0.88 0 100 200 300

xW
0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0 100 200 300

t (days)
A B C

Fig. 6. Values of the NaCl concentration in the ham liquid phase (zNaCl), moisture (xw) and water activity (aw) of the A, B and C points at the end of the salting, post-salting and ripening periods, respectively, for the brine thawed/salted hams at atmospheric pressure with 25 and 50 days of post-salting (BTS(25) and BTS(50)).

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2005), was reached for BTS and BTS-TP hams 25 days post-salting, indicating that the post-salting stage could be reduced from 50 to 25 days using the brine thawing/salting process. 3.4. Microbiological analysis The microbiological analysis were done on the traditionally processed hams (50 days of post-salting), and those brine thawed salted (BTS and BTS-TP) for the optimized post-salting time (25 days). The evolution of aerobic bacteria during the whole process for each salting method is shown in Fig. 7. At the end of the salting period, the number of these microorganisms was similar in all the hams and in each analysed part of the ham. During the post-salting period the number of these microorganisms increased in each part, being more marked in the surface of the ham, as was previously observed by ndez, Guamis, and Herna ndez (1988). Huerta, Herna The decrease in salt concentration at the surface of the hams (Figs. 46) was advantageous for the growth of these microorganisms as they are dicult to grow at salt concentrations around 6%. Something similar happened in the inner parts of the hams since the level of salt that can aect the growth of these bacteria was not reached. All of these factors and the increase of temperature by the end of this stage explain the rapid development of these microorganisms during the post-salting period. This development was higher in hams with a longer post-salting period (TPS). In previous studies (Kemp, Langlois, & Jonson, 1982; Kemp, Abidoye, Langlois, Franklin, & Fox, 1980, 1978) it was shown that during the initial stages of processing, a decrease in Gram negative aerobic bacteria was seen caused by the progressive dehydration and increase in sodium chloride concentration. On the other hand, Gram

positive coccus, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and moulds, sometimes increase because they are tolerant of salt. This can explain the increase in aerobic microorganisms during the post-salting period. At the end of the process, the level of these microorganisms was within the rate 105107 cfu/g, being lower than at the end of the post-salting period, and was similar in all the hams, irrespective of the salting method and the post-salting duration. The evolution of coliforms in the hams is shown in Fig. 8. The hams salted with solid salt, after the salting stage, had lower number of coliforms than the hams salted by immersion in brine and the highest number of these microorganisms was found in the hams salted by immersion in brine with a vacuum pulse. At post-salting, the hams salted with solid salt, had the higher number of coliforms. These hams had a longer post-salting period and had lower salt concentrations. In the hams salted by brine and with a vacuum pulse, coliforms decreased during the post-salting period. In the brine salted hams without vacuum pulse the coliform population on the surface increased and decreased in the other two studied zones. The initial salting could cause cellular damages, and have negative eects on the posterior growth of the microorganisms, resulting in longer lag phases or lower growth rates (Lechovich, 1987). At the end of the process, the number of coliforms was similar in all the hams. The results obtained from the Salmonella analyses during the whole process are shown in Table 3. As can be observed, these bacteria were found in all the samples, this demonstrates that the conditions of the post-salting period are adequate to inhibit the growth of these bacteria. Salmo leznella can tolerate salt concentrations near to 6% (Gonza rrez, & Mendoza, 1996). In Fig. 3 it is Hevia, Gutie observed, that except on the surface at the end of salting, the salt concentration needed to inhibit the growth of Salmonella, was not reached at any time during the post-salt-

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
BTS BTS-TP TPS BTS(25 days) BTS-TP TPS (50 BTS (25 BTP-TP TPS (50 (25 days) days) (25 days) days) days)

log cfu/g

End of salting

SURFACE

VEIN

DEPTH

Post-salting

End of process

Fig. 7. Evolution of aerobic microorganisms during the whole process of elaboration for each treatment of salting, dierent post-salting periods and at dierent zones of the hams.

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4 3,5 3

log MPN/g

2,5 2 1,5 1 0,5 0


BTS BTS-TP TPS BTS (25 BTS-TP TPS (50 BTS (25 BTS-TP TPS (50 days) (25 days) days) (25 days) days) days)

End of salting

SURFACE

VEIN

DEPTH

Postsalting

End of process

Fig. 8. Evolution of coliforms during the whole process of elaboration for each treatment of salting, dierent post-salting periods and dierent zones of the hams.

Table 3 Presence/absence (+/) of Salmonella in hams during the whole process of elaboration for each treatment of salting, dierent post-salting periods and dierent zones of the hams Surface End of salting stage TPS 5 Days BTS-TP 3 Days BTS 9 Days End of post-salting stage BTS 25 Days BTS-TP 25 Days TPS 50 Days End of the process BTS 25 Days BTS-TP 25 Days TPS 50 Days + + + Vein + + + + + + Depth + + + + + +

during the post-salting stage, the total time needed to reach the weight loss which dened the end of the process was higher for most of the hams than when using the traditional method. This was probably due to the absence of pressing during the salting, which implied that the pile salted hams had a atter section than those brine salted. This could be avoided by pressing the hams during the brine salting process or immediately after it. The microbiological analysis showed a similar trend for all treatments, with an increase in the counts from the salting to the post-salting period, and a clear decrease at the end of the whole process as a consequence of the large decrease in the water activity of the hams. Acknowledgements Grant PTR1995-0403-OP02 from MCyT is fully acknowledged. This work carried out under Unidad Asociada framework between IIAD (UPV) and IATA (CSIC). References
Ban on, S., Cayuela, J. M., Granados, M. V., & Garrido, M. D. (1999). Pre-cure freezing aects proteolysis in dry-cured hams. Meat Science, 51, 1116. n Barat, J. M., Grau, R., Iba ez, J. B., & Fito, P. (2005). Post-salting studies in spanish cured ham manufacturing time reduction by using brine thawingsalting. Meat Science, 69, 201208. Barat, J. M., Grau, R., Montero, A., Chiralt, A., & Fito, P. (2001). Salting time reduction of Spanish jams by brine salting. In P. Fito, A. Chirlat, J. M. Barat, W. E. L. Spiess, & D. Behsnilian (Eds.), Osmotic dehydration and vacuum impregnation. Applications in food industries (pp. 155169). Lancaster: Technomic Pub. Co. Inc. n-Moreno, M. J., & Fito, P. (2005). Barat, J. M., Grau, R., Paga Simultaneous brine thawing-salting operation during spanish cured ham manufacturing. Meat Science, 66, 603608. s, A., Gonza lez-Mart nez, C., Fito, P., Chiralt, A., Barat, J. M., Andre Escriche, I., & Camacho, M. M. (2001). Use of vacuum impregnation in food salting process. Journal of Food Engineering, 49, 141151.

ing period. This fact, in addition to the higher water content of the ham, favoured the presence of these bacteria. At the end of the process, the conditions in the hams did not support the growth of Salmonella, since these bacteria were not found in the last samples. S. aureus, sulphite-reducing clostridia and C. perfringens were not found in any of the samples. 4. Conclusions The results in this work conrm the substantial reduction in the thawing, salting and post-salting time needed (up to 25 days) to process Spanish cured hams using frozen hams and brine thawing/salting compared with the traditional method. The use of brine thawing/salting implied a lower total weight loss in the salting step when compared with the traditional process. Although these dierences were reduced

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