Grants and Contracts Details
Kentucky country hams are dry-cured meat products, which could be considered as one of the earliest value-added meat products in the United States. The dry-curing and ripening processes remove excess moisture and decrease the water activity to prolong the shelf-life of hams. Kentucky's climate plays a critical role in ham ripening. The traditional processing technique, which is still utilized widely across the commonwealth, exploits the unique climate of Kentucky as well as other southern Appalachian states to preserve hams. Farmers harvested pigs in the beginning of winter and dry-cured the hams in winter months. Development of consumer-desirable texture and flavor in country hams is primarily due to the intense proteolysis during ripening. The degree and nature of proteolysis are influenced by climate, temperature, humidity, and duration of ripening, and ultimately contribute to the unique savory attributes of products specific to our geographical region. Similar dry-cured hams from several geographical regions in the European Union have been extensively evaluated using innovative proteomic tools to characterize the changes in proteome and to determine their correlation with product quality attributes. Furthermore, such products are covered under Protected Geographical Indication and Protected Designation of Origin in the European Union. In contrast, scientific investigations were not undertaken to examine proteome changes in Kentucky country hams and to understand how these changes are influenced by processing conditions. Therefore, our objectives are (1) to characterize the proteome changes in Kentucky country hams employing cutting-edge techniques in proteomics and mass spectrometry, and (2) to correlate the changes in proteome to ham quality traits. This approach will identify molecular markers unique to Kentucky country hams. Furthermore, this will enable Kentucky's food industry to engineer novel and efficient strategies to process country hams without compromising the quality attributes and thus contribute to the economic competitiveness of the commonwealth.
|Effective start/end date||7/1/11 → 6/30/13|
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