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By John Edward Eckert; Frank Robert Shaw; Everett Franklin Phillips

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Monounsaturated fats have a single double bond; polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond. This double bond adds one or more kinks to the chain, changing its shape from clean and organized to a bit awry. If you’re good at organizing, packing a car, or stacking boxes, you know that things of a consistent shape fit tightly together. This is the case with saturated fats: the chains of evenly bonded molecules stack tightly together, forming stable fats that are solid at room temperature. Once there is a kink in the chain, those chains can’t stack so closely, thus preventing them from forming tight, stable structures, often making them liquid at room temperature; the more kinks the more unstable the structure.

The higher the temperature, and the quicker it rises, the faster and tighter collagen strands twist and squeeze out the moisture contained in muscle fibers. Hence, hydrolysis that occurs too quickly results in dense, dry meat. Take a beef shank, for example. A beef shank is heavily worked and therefore chock-full of extensively cross-linked connective tissue. Cooking this cut for a few hours at a high temperature, in moist or dry heat, will produce meat that is dense, dry, and a struggle to chew: the collagen has shrunk, squeezed out the liquid, and not been given adequate time to hydrolyze.

Once an animal dies, enzymes are let loose, and with nothing regulating their activity, they begin to attack at random. Their targets include the contractile proteins that keep muscle fibers in a contracted state (remember actin and myosin from here). Given enough time, these enzymes will have done enough dismantling to undo the effects of rigor mortis, producing tender meat. This is all part of the process of aging, discussed in detail below. The Effects of Animal Stress on Meat Quality Although normal changes in pH levels are advantageous, aberrations in pH levels can cause unsavory effects.

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Beekeeping by John Edward Eckert; Frank Robert Shaw; Everett Franklin Phillips

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