The color of dry-cured ham mainly depends on the concentration of its natural pigment myoglobin, which depends on the type of muscle and the age of the animal (67,68). So, myoglobin concentration is higher in muscles with oxidative pattern and in older animals. The typical bright-red color is due to nitrosomyoglobin, a compound formed after reaction of nitric oxide with myoglobin. About 10-40% of total myoglobin is transformed into nitrosomyoglobin (69). Those hams without added nitrate present a pinky-red color. Some surface colors on smoked hams may result from the pyrolytic decomposition of wood.
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