For the past two months or so I have had the pleasure of playing around with some pork of shady character, a Weber hot smoking grill and some (hopefully) potent microorganisms. My intention with all this? To make a delicious product out of an ingredient many consider repulsively flawed – boar-tainted meat.
It began with the prospect of a voluntary ban on castration of male piglets within the European Union in the year 2018. Castration is a practice primarily performed to prevent boar taint, the unpleasant odour and flavour that may occur in meat from uncastrated males (Lunde et al. 2013), and which is commonly believed to be caused by the two compounds skatole (3-methylindole) and androstenone (5α-androst-16-en-3-on) (Stolzenbach et al. 2009). However, due to animal welfare issues, this practice is expected to be voluntarily abandoned (Lunde et al 2013 and Font-i-Furnols 2012), which could well lead to an increase in boar-tainted meat that has limited use. There is a resulting interest shared by industry and the consumer to compensate for the off-odours and off-flavours caused by skatole and androstenone and to improve the sensory acceptability of products made of meat from uncastrated male pigs. According to Luckow et al. (2006) masking is one technique that has been used to reduce the perception of aversive odours and flavours in foods through the addition of different flavour compounds to different cuts of pork containing various amounts of skatole (Lunde et al. 2008 ; Stolzenbach et al. 2009 ; Lunde et al. 2013). Nordic Food Lab has undertaken some previous experiments in applying processing methods similar to those used in the production of Katsuobushi to pork. Inspired by this work I will investigate how cooking, drying, smoking, and fermenting will affect the flavour and odour of boar-tainted meat.