Why does mutton has got a strong smell ?


In traditional Chinese food culture, mutton is a good nourishing food, and it is deeply loved by northern Chinese in autumn and winter, which are suitable for nourishing food. With the popularity of barbecue cuisine, mutton kebabs have spread all over the country, and mutton has become an all-season and all-regional delicacy. However, the special mutton smell is difficult for many people to accept, and it is difficult for many southern Chinese friends to adapt to the smell. Where does this flavor come from? Why do some mutton have a strong smell others have a very mild smell?

The origin of the mutton smell

The mutton smell mainly comes from fat, which is related to dozens of ingredients. The most recognized and typical ingredients are 4-methyloctanoic acid, 4-ethyloctanoic acid and 4-methylnonanoic acid, of which the first two play a major role. These fatty acids are formed by microbial fermentation in the rumen of sheep and are also found in cattle, horses, deer and other animals, but the mutton smell is the most obvious.

In addition, components such as phenols, hydrogen sulfide, pyridine and pyrazine in mutton have been confirmed to have a certain relationship with the smell.

There are many factors that affect the mutton smell, including place of production, feed, variety, age, part, fatness, etc. For example, the odor of male sheep is stronger, while the odor of castrated sheep will be reduced. The taint of adult sheep is more obvious than that of lambs, but from the perspective of feeding economy and taint, sheep about one year old are the most suitable for slaughter.

Whether grazing or raising in captivity, the feed or food of sheep has a great impact on the mutton smell. Therefore, the mutton smell of mutton will also have regional differences because of different vegetation and feeding traditions in different places. Some studies have found that a lack of sulfur in the pasture will cause mutton to have a strong smell. If the sheep raised in captivity are fed too many leguminous plants (such as alfalfa), the mutton smell will be stronger. Different types of sheep have different odors. Some sheep that produce wool have strong smell. New Zealand has produced mutton that has basically no odor through the selection of fine breeds and optimized feed.

How to get rid of bad smell

The traditional way to remove the mutton smell is to use star anise, cinnamon, cooking wine, onions, ginger, garlic, cumin and other spices to cover up the mutton smell. The volatile components they release may also harmonize with the mutton smell. In the field of food industry, odor can be removed to a certain extent through microbial fermentation, ultra-high temperature steam treatment, cyclodextrin embedding and other technologies.

In addition, the flavor of mutton can also be improved from the source by adding special ingredients to the feed. For example, a kind of sheep in Provence, France, has a unique flavor because it eats lavender. Similarly, some people in China are trying to feed sheep astragalus, angelica or other herbs, which can also improve the flavor of mutton.

Although most people don't like the smell of mutton, there are also many people who use the smell to judge whether the meat they buy is mutton. However, this method may not be very effective, because the smell of sheep odor can be artificially simulated through chemical methods. In addition, the compound mutton flavor made from various sheep ingredients can also produce a rich mutton flavor.

Due to the high price of mutton, counterfeiting is more common. Duck meat marinated with mutton flavor can be fake in taste, texture, and fiber texture. Sometimes, in order to produce a more pronounced smell, unscrupulous merchants will add mutton fat and mutton urine to other meats, passing them off as mutton. Therefore, if you want to eat real mutton, you can go to a regular large supermarket to buy it, or eat in a reputable restaurant, don't be greedy.