Evaluation of proteolytic activity of micro-organisms isolated from dry cured ham

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In order to determine the possible contribution of micro-organisms to the ripening of meat products, 48 cocci, 18 moulds and 20 yeasts isolated from dry-cured Iberian ham were evaluated for proteolytic activity. Two specific methods were used: the ability to hydrolyse myosin in broth and, for those strains showing high activities, hydrolysis on both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins on pork slices. Moulds and cocci showed the highest proteolytic activity for myosin in broth. Both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins were recovered at lower rates from inoculated than from sterile incubated pork. The deepest changes in myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins were originated by one strain each of Penicillium chrysogenum and Staphylococcus xylosus, respectively. Only small changes were observed in the concentrations of free amino acids from inoculated pork slices, except for the samples with P. chrysogenum, where there were increases in all free amino acids. Thus, P. chrysogenum makes a significant contribution to proteolysis during the ripening of dry-cured meat products.

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