The salting of the whole pork leg is a practice traditional to many regions, although the forms of preparation (the removal of differing quantities of rind and fat, and of varying parts of the pelvic bone) vary greatly from region to region (1). Besides being linked to traditional practices and food habits, these differing types of preparation reflected the necessity to optimize the main processes: the diffusion of salt and water, and the absorption of the components of the smoke.
A lesser covering of fat and rind, facilitating the processes of diffusion, reduces the probability of microbial contamination and slows down many enzymatic processes that on the basis of recent studies, can lead to the formation of undesirable sensory properties if they are too accentuated (2-4).
It is interesting to note that, in general, the forms characterized by a greater muscle surface freed of fat and rind pertain to regions where the climatic conditions slowed down salt diffusion (cold climates) or where there was a greater probability of undesirable microbial growth (hot climates). The rapid reduction in water activity (Aw) was, in fact, practically the only way to prevent undesirable microbial growth.
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