Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

New taste wheel brings out new flavours in pork

With over 90 different taste nuances, pork is rich in flavour, quality and texture. Is it possible to distinguish the taste between different pig breeds? A new taste wheel provides the answer.

Chefs and butchers are constantly on the look-out for greater differentiation and more exciting flavours in pork. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council in collaboration with the pig industry has responded to this appeal by drawing on the expertise of Innovaconsult, a sensory technologist and a super taster. Several taste studies describe the taste of pork according to feed, breed and which accompaniments go particularly well with it.

Taste with the emphasis on sustainability, organic production and food pairing
Previously, the study examined the taste nuances of Danish pork based on the conventional DLY pig. The taste study was then expanded into a food pairing project, which describes which accompaniments go particularly well with specific cuts. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council was also involved in the Danish SuperGrassPork project which examined the taste of meat from pigs fed on sustainable green proteins.

Read also: The taste of sustainable pork

New taste wheel for gourmets
A recent taste test of organic purebred and crossbred pigs has resulted in a new taste wheel for gourmets. The taste wheel enables the discerning taste assessor to form an overview of the different taste nuances of three identical pigs plus an 'outsider'.

Organic and crossbred pigs
The project investigated three different organic purebred and crossbred pigs, the common Danish DLY finished pig (a cross between Duroc, Landrace and Yorkshire), a pure Duroc and a third pig – the DLY-SH (a cross between DLY and Saddleback).

The pigs were divided into two herds: one herd was bred indoors and the other outdoors. All received the same feed. After fattening, the pigs were slaughtered at 115 kg or 140 kg.

The Hungarian woolly pig, Mangalitza, was also included in the taste test. However, this breed is not entirely comparable with the rest. The Mangalitzas were not selected from the same litter, were given different feed and their carcase weight was not as precisely controlled as it was with the other pigs. As they were all kept outdoors, it was not possible to compare the taste with those kept indoors.

Read also: The taste of organic purebred and crossbred pigs

Outdoor pigs taste of beef and umami: the meat of indoor pigs is more tender
The taste test was conducted on loins, collars and bellies. The results showed that outdoor pigs tasted more of beef and umami. By contrast, meat from indoor pigs was more tender. In general, 140 kg pigs tasted more of beef and umami and their meat was also more tender and succulent.

 Duroc  DLY  D*LYSH  Mangalitza - The Hungarian woolly pig

Photo: the four different pig breeds involved in the tasting test.
The taste project has opened up more possibilities, with new flavours including the taste of “oven-baked mushrooms”, “roasted game”, ”back bacon”, ”lemon juice”, ”beef stock”, ”boiled eggs” and ”smoke”.

Taste wheel as a cooking inspiration
Purebred and cross-bred pigs also allow for more taste combinations. With taste wheels, food professionals have more opportunities to experiment with and create new food experiences in the kitchen. Taste wheels for pork enable many new taste nuances to be explored. They can also provide fresh inspiration for ordinary consumers.

Read also: Pork and the perfect food combinations

FACT BOX: taste characteristics for various pig breeds

  • DLY: Slightly more liver flavour, slightly more caramel on the surface of the roasted meat (collar), slightly more acidic (collar).
  • DLYSH: Slightly more tender and juicy. Slightly sweeter and slightly more caramel on the surface of the roasted meat (collar).
  • Duroc: Slightly more liver flavour, slightly more umami (collar).

Hungarian woolly pig/Mangalitza (not directly comparable): Slightly juicier, slightly less tender. Slightly less umami (collar), slightly less intense flavour in the dark meat and slightly more lemon flavour in the light meat