European Food Research and Technology

, Volume 216, Issue 4, pp 290–296 | Cite as

Spectral characterisation of red pigment in Italian-type dry-cured ham. Increasing lipophilicity during processing and maturation

  • Jens K. S. MøllerEmail author
  • Christina E. Adamsen
  • Leif H. Skibsted
Original Paper


Spectroscopic studies of Parma ham during processing revealed a gradual transformation of muscle myoglobin, initiated by salting and continuing during ageing. Electron spin resonance spectra did, however, conclusively show that the pigment in dry-cured Parma ham at no stage is a nitrosyl complex of ferrous myoglobin as found in brine-cured ham and Spanish Serrano hams. Both near-infra red reflectance spectra of sliced ham and UV/visible absorption spectra of extract of hams, obtained with aqueous buffer or acetone, showed the presence of different red pigments at varying processing stages for both solvents. Especially, the pigment extracted with aqueous buffer exhibited unique spectral features different from those of well-known myoglobin derivatives. At the end of processing, the pigment(s) becomes less water extractable, while the fraction of red pigment(s) extractable with acetone/water (75%/25%) increases throughout the processing time up to full maturation at 18 months. The chemical identity of the 6th ligand of myoglobin could not be conclusively established, but possible candidates are discussed. The partition of the pigment(s) between pentane and acetone/water showed a strong preference for pentane, suggesting that only the heme moiety is present in the acetone/water extract, and that Parma ham pigment is gradually transformed from a myoglobin derivative into a non-protein heme complex, which was found to be thermally stable in acetone/water solution


Colour Red myoglobin derivatives Dry-curing Parma ham, ESR spectroscopy 



The present study was partly founded by the Basic Research Funding Programme of the Danish Bacon and Meat Council. Furthermore, we would like to thank Dr. Giovanni Parolari, Stazione Sperimentale per l´Industria delle Conserve Alimentari, Parma, Italy, for the kind donation of Parma ham samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens K. S. Møller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christina E. Adamsen
    • 1
  • Leif H. Skibsted
    • 1
  1. 1.Food Chemistry, Department of Dairy and Food ScienceThe Royal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityFrederiksberg CDenmark

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