Cooling and maturation of the meat
The meat, immediately after slaughtering, is tough and without a distinct flavor. Fillet, entrecote, boiled meat, and jerky acquire a perfect taste only when stored properly. A steak or a fillet is tender only due to the maturation of the meat.
Biochemical processes after the slaughter
The muscles of living animals accumulate energy intended for movement and metabolism. This energy ensures the continuation of the biochemical processes inside the meat and after slaughter. Inter alia, glycogen is broken down and turns into lactic acid, lowering the pH from pH 7.0 to pH 5.8-5.4 inside the meat. In addition, interlocks between individual fibers are formed in the muscle until a state of maximum stiffness is reached. This phase is known as the tanning stage and is reached, depending on the animal type, in 2-36 hours.
The actual maturation
Then the actual maturing begins. Protein-splitting enzymes, also found in the meat, reveal their influence. The activity of these enzymes depends on the temperature and achieved speed. Ideally, maturation takes place at a temperature of -1 to +2°C. The maturation process is impossible in a standard refrigerator. To a large extent maturing takes place in the cold room before the sale. The duration of maturation depends on such factors as the breed of the animal and its age, meat bran and its size, as well as storage (open or vacuum-packed).
Carcass cooling after the slaughter
Since the moisture content of the meat may increase during the carcasses’ rapid cooling after the slaughter, it is often refrigerated in a cooling tunnel for 1-2 hours at a temperature of -4 to -10°C. Until the deboning moment, the meat is placed for intermediate storage in a cooling chamber (deboning of pig carcasses – no earlier than one day, cattle – no earlier than three days). But at the same time, you should pay attention that the cattle carcasses cooling with the specified reduction in cooling time should not occur too quickly. It is recommended not to allow the internal temperature to fall below 10 ° C in carcasses and 15 ° C in individual pieces of meat within 10 hours after slaughter. It is recommended to reduce the internal temperature of the pork to 10°C within 12 hours after the slaughter and to 2-4°C within 24 hours after that.