Proteolysis, texture, physicochemical, and sensory characteristics of Serrano hams from Duroc and Large White pigs at 5, 7, 9, 12, and 15 m of curing (3 hams per breed per curing time) were investigated. Higher concentrations of some sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar proteins, peptides with molecular mass in the ranges 3700 to 12000 Da, 700 to 2000 Da, and below 450 Da, and total free amino acids were recorded for Large White hams, while hydrophobic peptides were at higher levels in Duroc hams. A 40 kDa peak in the low-ionic-strength soluble protein fraction and 2 peaks of 40 and 45 kDa in the high-ionic-strength soluble protein fraction found only in Duroc hams could be of use in discriminating products from different breeds. Physicochemical and textural characteristics of both types of hams evolved similarly during curing and differences in organoleptic traits between breeds were negligible. Flavor intensity and flavor quality of hams were strongly correlated to curing time, with r2 values over 0.95 for flavor intensity and over 0.90 for flavor quality, and to the concentration of total free amino acids, with r2 values over 0.90 for both flavor intensity and flavor quality. The sensory evaluation scores of Duroc hams, at least as high as those of Large White hams, make the production of high-quality Serrano ham from pure breed Duroc pigs feasible.
Practical Application: Duroc breed crosses are advantageous in the production of dry-cured hams, resulting in higher marbling, enhanced flavor and lower processing losses, but the characteristics of pure breed Duroc hams have not been investigated. The similar evolution of the compositional, proteolytic, textural, and sensory characteristics of Serrano hams from Duroc and Large White pigs during dry-curing recorded in the present work makes the production of high-quality dry-cured hams from pure breed Duroc pigs feasible. Three protein peaks found only in Duroc hams can be of use to discriminate products from different breeds.