Meat tenderness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tenderness is a quality of meat gauging how easily it is chewed or cut. Tenderness is a desirable quality, as tender meat is softer, easier to chew, and generally more palatable than harder meat. Consequently, tender cuts of meat typically command higher prices. The tenderness depends on a number of factors including the meat grain, the amount of connective tissue, and the amount of fat.[1] Tenderness can be increased by a number of processing techniques, generally referred to as tenderizing or tenderization.

Influencing factors[edit]

Tenderness is perhaps the most important of all factors impacting meat eating quality, with others being flavor, juiciness, and succulence.[2]

Tenderness is a quality complex to obtain and gauge, and it depends on a number of factors. On the basic level, these factors are meat grain, the amount and composition of connective tissue, and the amount of fat.[1] In order to obtain a tender meat, there is a complex interplay between the animal's pasture, age, species, breed, protein intake, calcium status, stress before and at killing, and how the meat is treated after slaughter.[3]

Meat with the fat content deposited within the steak to create a marbled appearance has always been regarded as more tender than steaks where the fat is in a separate layer.[3] Cooking causes melting of the fat, spreading it throughout the meat and increasing the tenderness of the final product.[1]


The meat industry strives to produce meat with standardized and guaranteed tenderness, since these characteristics are sought for by the consumers.[4] For that purpose a number of objective tests of tenderness have been developed, gauging meat resistance to shear force, most commonly used being Slice Shear Force test[5] and Warner–Bratzler Shear Force test.[6]


Techniques for breaking down collagens in meat to make it more palatable and tender are referred to as tenderizing or tenderization.

There are a number of ways to tenderize meat:


Efforts have been made since at least 1970 to use explosives to tenderize meat and a company was founded to try to commercialize the process; as of 2011 it was not yet scalable.[13]


  1. ^ a b c "Meat processing : Meat Qualities". Britannica. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  2. ^ Troy, D.J.; Kerry, J.P. (2010). "Consumer perception and the role of science in the meat industry". Meat Science. 86 (1): 214–226. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2010.05.009. PMID 20579814.
  3. ^ a b "The Meat Tenderness Debate". Natural Hub. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  4. ^ Luciano, F. B.; Anton, A.A; Rosa, C.F. (2007). "BIOCHEMICAL ASPECTS OF MEAT TENDERNESS: A BRIEF REVIEW" (PDF). Arch. Zootec. (56 (R): 1–8).
  5. ^ Shackelford, S. D.; Wheeler, Ph.D., T. L. (2009). "Slice Shear Force" (PDF). Centennial, Colorado: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association USDA-ARS.
  6. ^ Wheeler, Tommy L.; Shackelford, Steven D.; Koohmaraie USDA-ARS, Mohammad. "Warner-Bratzler Shear Force Protocol" (PDF). U.S. Meat Animal Research Center.
  7. ^ a b c d e McGee, Harold (2004). ON FOOD AND COOKING, The science and lore of the kitchen. Scribner. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-684-80001-1.
  8. ^ a b c LAROUSSE Gastronomique. Hamlyn. 2000. p. 1204. ISBN 978-0-600-60235-4.
  9. ^ Madhusankha, G.D.M.P.; Thilakarathna, R.C.N. (2021). "Meat tenderization mechanism and the impact of plant exogenous proteases: A review". Arabian Journal of Chemistry. 14 (2): 102967. doi:10.1016/j.arabjc.2020.102967.
  10. ^ Rossano, R.; Larocca, M.; Polito, T.; Perna, A. M.; Padula, M. C.; Martelli, G.; Riccio, P. (2012). "What Are the Proteolytic Enzymes of Honey and What They Do Tell Us? A Fingerprint Analysis by 2-D Zymography of Unifloral Honeys". PLOS ONE. 7 (11): e49164. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...749164R. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049164. PMC 3492327. PMID 23145107.
  11. ^ Yoon, J. W.; Lee, D. G.; Lee, H. J.; Choe, J.; Jung, S.; Jo, C. (2017). "Microbial, Physicochemical, and Sensory Characteristics of Quality Grade 2 Beef Enhanced by Injection of Pineapple Concentrate and Honey". Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 37 (4): 494–501. doi:10.5851/kosfa.2017.37.4.494. PMC 5599569. PMID 28943761.
  12. ^ "Tenderizing Meat with a Baking Soda Solution". Cook's Illustrated.
  13. ^ Abrahams, Marc (5 December 2011). "Best way to tenderise meat? An underwater explosion". The Guardian.

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