Sunday, September 14, 2008

Book: Dry-Cured Meat Products

Google Books has a preview up for Toldrá's 2004 book "Dry-cured Meat Products". Dr. Toldrá is a Research Professor and Head of the Meat Science Laboratory at Instituto de Agroquimica y Tecnologia de Alimentos (CSIC).

A lot of that information is hard to find in English. The Spanish make a lot of money producing the world's best pigs and cured products. As a result, they've got well-funded research institutes staffed by scientists investigating what it takes to produce great cured pork economically.

We have similar institutes in America, but given what's economically important, they study things like frozen pizzas. That's not meant to denigrate America - we've just got different priorities. Dr. Toldra was even educated in the USA - he's chosen to apply his education to studying one of Spain's economically important and traditional foods.

The book covers a lot of detailed topics - e.g. how the sex of the pig impacts the products and what it takes to cure frozen meat properly. It isn't a recipe book. Here's some of the table of contents:

Amazon has the book.

There's also a funny interview with Dr. Toldra. It is in Spanish, so here is a google translation. It is very interesting stuff - e.g. you can see that they were able to determine what was making so many hams go bad while curing (a common reason given by Austrian Mangalitsa producers for why they wet-cure), and then change things so as to cut down on losses:

His research focuses on a sector as traditional as in the curing of pork, especially the prosciutto. Can you make something research and technological development in a sector as based on tradition?

There is a very clear example of the contributions of technological development. Years ago there was a great loss of hams in the creek when it was discovered that many had internal putrefaction. The cove is done to verify the quality of ham towards the end of the curing process. This junción click on the bones, a very delicate ham, with a long, thin instrument [also called cove]. Now we know that when the piece was subjected to sudden movements, unions will break bones and small openings through which they could enter external contamination. All this is compounded further if there was any interruption in the cold chain. The incorporation of cooling a strict throughout the chain and a more careful handling of the pieces now avoids such losses by cove. That is a very clear example of technological development.

In that same interview, he mentions the USA's country ham.


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