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A careful selection of raw materials is essential to guarantee the manufacture of good quality products. A certain lack of confidence in the quality of dried meat has grown over the years from the unscrupulous practice of using spoiled meat in their manufacture. Such practices should be strongly discouraged. Dried meats, like other processed products, are highly susceptible to manufacturing defects resulting from the use of inferior quality raw materials and ingredients.

To safeguard against the production of unsound unwholesome products, it is recommended that only carcass meat from recognized and reputable sources is used. In countries where meat inspection services are well established and enforced, raw materials should carry official stamps indicating that the carcasses have been inspected and passed for human consumption. In regions where such infrastructure is not available, the carcass meat should be carefully examined and rejected if suspected of being unsound. Regardless of the presence or absence of official markings, all raw materials should be inspected routinely upon reception for evidence of insect lavae, slime, off-odours, discolouration or adulteration with chemicals, pesticides, dirt, etc. Bruises should be trimmed off, or at least opened, and the clotted blood scrubbed out. All unsuitable materials should be rejected. Frozen meat should be carefully monitored during the period it is defrosting for signs of surface contamination and off-odours. It should be remembered that defrosting of whole frozen beef quarters may take up to 7 days, during which time surface deterioration is inevitable unless the ambient temperature is kept around 2° to 5°C.

4.1 Selection and Preparation of Meat

Charque and carne-de-sol are traditionally manufactured from bovine muscle although sheep and goat meats are also suitable. Pork, which is rich in unsaturated fatty acids is not suitable for the production of charque, although it can be used in the production of carne-de-sol. charque is best produced from carcasses having a reasonable level of subcutaneous and intramuscular fat. Low carcass fat levels will cause an enhanced weight loss during processing and result in a less palatable more excessively dehydrated product. Carcass fat levels are a less critical factor in the manufacture of carne-de-sol because the drying period is much shorter.

Butchery practices have to be carefully chosen to ensure the separation of manufacturing cuts of uniform thickness (2–4 cm). In the north-east of Brazil unique carcass division and deboning procedures are used for the processing of carne-de-sol. Similar procedures were once employed in the south of the country for charque manufacture at a time when whole carcasses were cut up for this product but with the increasing demand for high quality cuts, new butchery procedures were introduced.

The traditional procedures of deboning, using whole carcasses, are described in more detail below.

Butchers usually allow carcasses to “cool” for several hours post slaughter to allow fat deposits to firm and to facilitate the separation of manufacturing cuts. Separation of the carcass longitudinally into sides and horizontally into quarters is followed or proceeded by the removal of renal and channel fat deposits, the uterus in the case of the females and the reproductive muscles and organs in the case of males.

The hindquarter separated between the 12 and 13th ribs is subdivided into five primal regions; inside round (cha de dentro), outside round (cha de fora), knuckle (patinho), rump (alcatra) and hindshank (largarto posterior). The points of anatomical separation of these cuts are shown in Figure 4. The forequarter is in turn subdivided into five primal regions; clod and rib cap (posta gorda), brisket (peito), chuck and neck (acem), rib eye (contra file) and shank (lagarto anterior). This system of quartering and primal division results in the separation of 10 cuts of similar weight and with a more satisfactory distribution of first and second quality meat than is possible using the customary “pistola” cutting practices. Variations in these butchery practices are recommended in countries where there is a demand for cuts differing in quality and price.

A further division into secondary manufacturing cuts is usually necessary to separate the filet (file mignon) from the rest of the inside round (cha de dentro) and to remove the distal muscles of the hind leg from the outside round (cha de fora). In sheep and goats this secondary division is not usually carried out.

The twelve manufacturing cuts are made ready for further processing by a series of incisions which permit the opening of the muscle blocks into flaps or “mantas” of equal thickness. These “mantas” are further scored with a knife across the direction of the fibres to facilitate salt penetration.

4.2 Salt

The salt used in the processing of carne-de-sol and charque falls into two categories. Coarse marine salt, which has not been processed and has crystals between 2 to 7 mm in size; and ground marine salt the crystals of which pass totally through a 2 mm seive. Refined salt which has been subjected to the removal of all organic impurities, magnesium and calcium is sometimes employed in the manufacture of carne-de-sol but its application is limited and there is no information suggesting improved product quality with its use.

Salts with total insoluble solid contents greater than 0.3% and with turbidity levels higher than 50% are not recommended.

Contamination of marine salt by facultative aerobic halophilic bacteria can lead to a loss of product quality and in some cases to condemnation of the product (sour charque).

In the processing of charque and carne-de-sol a large quantity of brine and used salt is produced during the salting, re-salting and overhauling operations. Where the cost of salt is high, recovery may be advisable using vacuum evaporators. Salt recovered in this way is too fine for many operations but is excellent for reinforcing brines or for covering winter piles of charque.

1.ROUND (Coxao)20.4 1.INSIDE ROUND(Chade dentro)9.3
2.RUMP and LOIN (Alcatra completa)13.8 2.OUTSIDE ROUND (Cha de fora)8.6
3.Ponta de agulha12.5 3.HINDSHANK (Legarto posterior)1.9
4.SHOULDER (Paleta)8.7 4.KNUCKLE (Patinho)8.8
5.Shank (Musculo)1.8 5.RUMP (Alcatara)6.4
6.Brisket (Peito)4.9 6.CLOD and RIB CAP (Posta gorda)8.4
7.CHUCK and NECK (Acem and Pescoco)11.2 7.RIB EYE (Contra file)4.7
8.HUMP (Cupim)1.2 8.CHUCK and NECK (Acem)9.1
 Manufacturing cuts70.9 10.SHANK (Lagarto anterior)3.5
 Bones and Trimmings29.1 CARCASS YIELD 
 Total100.0  Manufacturing cuts70.9
     Bones and trimmings29.1

Figure 4. Carcass Division and Separation of Manufacturing Cuts.

4.3 Water Quality

The nature of the water supply determines the extent of the treatment required before it can be considered suitable for use in the manufacture of charque or carne-de-sol. Heavily polluted supplies, containing large quantities of organic material, require full treatment including sedimentation (with or without flocculation), filtration and chlorination. Clean water from deep wells or mains water may not require any treatment prior to use.

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