Abstract: In order to study the effect of protein oxidation, degradation and structural changes on the product quality, dry-cured beef in the raw material period, curing period, air-drying period, middle fermentation period, late fermentation period, and mature period were used as the raw materials to determine color, texture, free amino acid content and protein changes. The results showed that the color of dry-cured beef was dull-red, and the hardness, gumminess, chewiness, adhesiveness and resilience were significantly increased (P<0.05). Moreover, the myosin and myofibrillar proteins protein carbonyl content increased notably(P<0.05), and sulfhydryl content decreased significantly (P<0.05). In addition, after the mature period, the contents of carbonyl groups increased by 53.51% and 36.83%, respectively, meanwhile the total sulfhydryl content decreased by 40.71% and 49.27% compared with raw material. Furthermore, the sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) showed that the proteins were prominently degraded. Besides, raman spectroscopy showed that the protein structure changed from order to disorder. The total content of free amino acids significantly increased as a whole(P<0.05), particularly, the glutamic acid, lysine acid and aspartic increasing most significantly (P<0.05), which increased by 51.38%, 42.77%, and 42.47%, respectively. Correlation analysis shows that the color of dry-cured beef were significantly correlated with the index of chewiness, adhesiveness, carbonyl, sulfhydryl, α-helix, and β-turn.Protein structure changed due to its oxidation and degradation, which affected the eating quality of the product. In conclusion, the protein biochemical changes had a positive effect on the product quality during the processing of dry-cured beef.
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