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First online:

Physical Aspects of Meat Cooking: Time Dependent Thermal Protein Denaturation and Water Loss

  • B. I. ZielbauerAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer Research Email author 
  • , J. FranzAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer Research
  • , B. ViezensAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer Research
  • , T. A. VilgisAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Polymer Research


Selective denaturation of meat proteins – essential to reach desired textures – requires cooking temperatures corresponding to their different structure and interactions. Sous-vide cooking allows precise control over the denaturation state of meat proteins (and thus the cooking state of meat products) due to the possibility to cook at very well defined temperatures. Additionally, kinetic effects also play an important role. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) has been used here to follow the denaturation state of proteins in pork filet (Musculus psoas major), which had been heat treated at different time (10–2880 min) and temperature (45–74 °C) combinations. Additionally, the water loss (cooking loss) occurring during heat treatments has been determined. Four endothermic peaks have been observed in the DSC curves. Their individual time and temperature dependent enthalpies show that proteins become denatured at temperatures well below the peak temperatures if kept there for long times. This observation is underlined by statistical arguments. Cooking loss increases with time and temperature, while the main water loss occurs during the first 240 min and at temperatures above 60 °C. Due to the different kinetics found for protein denaturation and cooking loss, it is not possible to directly correlate the two quantities.


Sous-vide cooking Pork Thermal denaturation Denaturation kinetics Cooking loss Differential scanning calorimetry