Heat treatment of meat at temperatures between 50 and 65 °C, for extended periods of time, is known as low-temperature long-time (LTLT) cooking. This cooking method produces meat that has increased tenderness and better appearance than when cooked at higher temperatures. Public concerns regarding this method have focused on the ability to design heat treatments that can reach microbiological safety. The heat treatment induces modification of the meat structure and its constituents, which can explain the desirable eating quality traits obtained. Denaturation, aggregation, and degradation of myofibrillar, sarcoplasmic and connective tissue proteins occur depending on the combination of time and temperature during the heat treatment. The protein changes, especially in relation to collagen denaturation, along with proteolytic activity, have often been regarded to be the main contributors to the increased meat tenderness. The mechanisms involved and the possible contribution of other factors are reviewed and discussed.
Keywords: Colour; Juiciness; Safety; Sous-vide; Tenderness.
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