To ensure that the quality of the meat is maintained, it is important for the meat to undergo a process right after the animal is slaughtered. Let's take a look at the following meat processing methods to preserve the meat quality:
- Drying or dehydration. This is the reduction of the original water content of the meat from 70% to about 15%. The dehydration process can be done either by natural sun-drying or by artificial drying through the use of a chamber where a temperature of 110°F-120°F and a humidity of 85% is maintained. In terms of quality, dehydration through the artificial process proves to provide a better quality and the dried products can therefore be sold at a higher price; however, the artificial process can be quite costly.
- Smoking. Another way of meat preservation is by subjecting the meat to wood smoke which would allow for the introduction of the pyroligneous acid on the meat's surface and this will act as a preservative and a flavoring agent at the same time.
- Salting. Salt can also be applied on the meat and this will drain water from meat tissues and from spoilage organisms, causing the cells to shrivel and become inactive.
- Curing. This involves the application of salt, sugar, nitrate and nitrite to prolong the meat quality. On the other hand, other substances like various sugar, spices, vinegar and wine may also be used for different types of cure but these are only effective when used in large quantities. It is also worthy to note that vinegar and essential oil in spices do retard bacterial growth.
- Refrigeration/Chilling. Storing meat at a temperature of 36°F-50°F or 2°C-10°C actually retards mold and bacterial growth but only for a limited period.
- Freezing. Exposing meat to a temperature of 0°C and below crystallizes water and meat tissues, thus inactivating the enzymes and any bacteria present.
- Canning. This particular process involves airtight sealing of meat in a can or jar at 212°F (100°C) and 10-15 pounds pressure for a specific period of time.
- Freeze-drying. With this process, moisture is removed from the meat by transforming it into ice and gas.
Okay, so this post was just an overview of the different meat processing techniques. In my next post, I will be sharing with the basic ingredients used in meat processing and the subsequent posts after that will be on meat processing.