Pork has more than 90 taste nuances

Pork, like beef, is rich in taste, texture and quality. As well as a multitude of cuts and processing technologies, various pig breeds also help to give the meat its special flavour. Read more about the different taste experiences that pork has to offer.

Know your pig
The most common breeds of pig in Denmark are Danish Landrace, Danish Yorkshire and Duroc. These breeds are crossed to produce pigs that combine the qualities from each one. New breeds have also begun to emerge, e.g. the Spanish Blackfoot pig, and old-fashioned breeds that have been 'rediscovered'. Breeds such as the Danish “sortbroget” (black-and-white) are sold to organic farmers while free-range and organic pigs have become very popular with consumers.

Read about sales of organic products in Denmark

More than 90 taste experiences
Pork can have just as many taste nuances as wine. Danish chemist, Lisbeth Ankersen, who is a 'super-taster' and advises food companies on taste and sensory experiences, believes that there are hundreds of different taste nuances in pork, all of which differ from cut to cut.

In collaboration with the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Lisbeth has studied the many nuances of pork and devised new words to describe the various taste experiences. She has tested more than 30 combinations of cuts and processes.

Ms Andersen says that there are countless complex taste experiences in pork depending on the cut and cooking method – and she has identified more than 90 different tastes during her study. Some cuts have a touch of smoke and liver and even a hint of rose. Umami (savory taste) plays a significant role in taste and as does kokumi – the sixth flavour – which enhances other flavours and delivers “mouthfulness”.

"We actually use all our senses when we eat so the overall taste experience also incorporates sound, for example, and the way we chew or cut into the meat. We also use our sense of touch to get a sense of the food’s texture and how it feels then we chew it. But in addition to the five known senses, we also use a sixth – the cognitive sense. This may be what we think when we eat meat – basically, what you bring to the meat yourself when you eat it,” says Lisbeth Ankersen.

Read also: Pioneer of antibiotic-free breeding

Flavour not in fat
Many people believe that taste is contained in the fat, but according to Ms Ankersen this is incorrect. Some of the taste lies in the connective tissue, as is proved by braised pigs’ cheek. The fat content is low, the muscles are dark the amount of connective tissue is high and the taste intense. This new insight can be used to experiment with new and exciting products, give chefs and butchers fresh inspiration and helps consumers to discover even more of pork’s exciting possibilities.

Learn more about the buzzword flavour here

Taste is chemistry
Lisbeth discovered over 90 different taste experiences in pork, including liver, caramel, rose, game, mushrooms, bread crusts, chicken, beef, mutton and a whole range of aromas and consistencies. In principle, it’s all about chemistry. Humans and animals are advanced organisms and the molecules that constitute pork are where the flavouring agents are to be found. But with pork, taste depends on what the pig has eaten because the flavouring in the meat is created in microorganisms in the stomach. A single piece of pork, therefore, can have up to 100 different taste nuances, concludes Lisbeth.

If you would like to hear more about the project, please contact Chief Consultant, Vickie Enné Ryge, vkr@lf.dk