Differences in toughness and aging potential of longissimus lumborum muscles between Hanwoo cow, bull and steer
Thirty Hanwoo cattle including bulls, cows, and steers (n = 10 each) were slaughtered and investigated for carcass traits (weight, meat color, fat color, yield index, maturity, marbling score, back-fat thickness, and firmness) and meat quality. The meat quality such as: pH, color, cooking loss, fatty acid, thiobarbituric acid reactive substance, warner-bratzler shear force, tensile tests, and texture profiles were analyzed on <italic>Longissimus Lumborum</italic> (LL) muscles of the carcasses at different aging times (3 d and 21 d). The results showed that steers and cows had higher back-fat thickness and marbling score, and a lower firmness (<italic>p < </italic>0.001) than bulls. Bulls exhibited a lower meat quality indicating by higher cooking loss, thiobarbituric acid reactive substance content, warner-bratzler shear force and tensile test values (<italic>p < </italic>0.01). Regarding the sensory property, the bull meat also had higher hardness, and lower tenderness, juiciness and flavor scores than the cow or steer meat (<italic>p < </italic>0.01). Additionally, the bull meat had a higher polyunsaturated fatty acid and a lower monounsaturated fatty acid contents (<italic>p < </italic>0.01). With increased aging time, the meat tenderness was improved in all the genders. Taken together, the present study demonstrated that the gender and aging time affected the carcass traits, fatty acid and sensory quality of beef. Postmortem aging could improve the meat tenderness of all genders especially bulls.