Extended shelf-life ham technology

Wednesday, 13 September, 2006 | Supplied by: http://www.earlee.com.au/

Schinkentec ham preservation technology is claimed to enhance a ham's flavour, colour and texture and also extend its shelf life.

The process allows processors to avoid the peak season rush by smoking more hams during the off-season and keeping them refrigerated throughout the year, thereby eliminating the need for freezer storage. The simple procedure used in the Schinkentec process allows a reduction of salt to 1.6% (typical salt 2.5 to 3.0%) and sugar 0.5% (typical sugar 0.7 to 1.5%) to further enhance the natural taste and allow the true flavour of the ham to come through.

Fresh legs of pork are injected with Schinkentec brine, which is made by dissolving the curing salts and honey in cold water. The injected legs are held refrigerated for 24 hours (curing time), then placed in the smokehouse.

The hams should have been pumped to contain between 35-125 ppm of sodium nitrite to afford the best protection against bacterial spoilage, particularly Clostridia botulinum and Salmonella. Mineral salts maintain the juiciness of the ham during cooking. Vitamin C is added to reduce the amount of nitrite necessary to do its job while salt is added for its preserving effect and flavour. Rosemary extract, Vitamin E, lemon juice and red wine vinegar are added later in the process as natural antioxidants to preserve colour and flavour during refrigerated storage. The hams do not contain added gluten, soybean, starch, vegetable gums, MSG or nitrate.

For ham processors, the Schinkentec system achieves a juicy, flavoursome, long shelf-life, honey-cured ham, while reducing storage costs, eliminating seasonal rushes and maintaining good yields.

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