The popularity of bacon in the United States has brought a ton of attention to the beloved thin and crispy cuts of pork. Since bacon became a mainstay in not only breakfast dishes but in food we chow on throughout the day, the science community has also started paying more attention to bacon. As people around the country savor bacon with eggs, on doughnuts, in Bloody Marys and stacked high on burgers, researchers with Kansas State University are looking into a new and improved way to preserve bacon. Curiously, the method these food scientists are researching includes the use of antioxidants.
First: the problem. As we all know, meat starts to smell and taste a little funky after some time has passed. Through exposure to oxygen, the fat in meat breaks down, compromising the flavor. To solve this issue, meat scientist with Kansas State, Terry Houser, is exploring the ways antioxidants can be used to slow the oxidation process, thus improving the quality of bacon while it’s being preserved.
But adding antioxidants into the mix isn’t as easy as it might sound. Restaurants and hotels who buy bacon in bulk almost always have the product arrive frozen, and as Houser explained in a press release about his work, “Anytime we have to throw product out of the freezer is a bad deal. You increase your plate costs in a restaurant scenario. We really want to minimize those losses in the bacon area.” To skirt the issues that arise when meat is taken out of the freezer only to be re-frozen, Houser and his colleagues are focusing on using smoke and plant extracts to deliver the antioxidants.
Anything that would improve the quality and taste of bacon sounds like a worthwhile enterprise, so hopefully Houser comes up with a breakthrough sometime soon.