Alternative solutions to the surgical castration of piglets need to be assessed because this is a particularly sensitive issue for the processing of traditional pork products. Currently, the available information about the advantages and drawbacks of castration for dry-cured products is limited; thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the quality of Slovenian dry-cured ham (Kraški pršut) from entire males (EM), immunocastrates (IC) and surgical castrates (SC). Hams (12 per sex group) were processed for one year and physical-chemical, rheological and sensory analysis of the dry-cured hams was performed. With regard to processing aptitude, the main difference was in the subcutaneous fat thickness, which influenced the level of dehydration and salt intake. This was further reflected in the physical-chemical traits and the texture, which were measured instrumentally or assessed by panelists. Regarding the aforementioned traits, EM and IC were generally similar and different from SC. On the contrary, sensory profiling of odor, taste and flavor demonstrated that EM had the lowest overall sensory quality, different from both IC and SC, and presented odors and flavors described as sweat, manure, sharp and persistent. We confirmed that dry-curing did not eliminate the perception of boar taint in the product from EM. The IC were similar in many aspects to EM except for the odor, taste and flavor of dry-cured hams, in which case they were more similar to SC.
Keywords: castration; dry-cured ham; entire male; immunocastration; pig.