Objective: To study the effects of microbial nitrification inhibitors on the formation and changes of flavors in air-dried sausages. Methods: Four groups of air-dried sausages were designed: MNI group: 0.05% of microbial nitrosation inhibitors (MNI) were added; MNIP group: 0.05% MNI and an inoculation of PRO-MIX5 commercial starter (Staphylococcus xylose, Lactobacillus sake,and L. plantarum) were added; FBFAP group: fermented beef flavorings and compound antioxidants were added, and the sausages were inoculated with the PRO-MIX5 commercial starter; and CK group: blank control (CK). The flavor of air-dried sausages was determined by an amino acid analyzer, Heracles iii ultra-fast gas phase electronic nose, electronic tongue and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Results: Glutamate, alanine, taurine and carnosine are the primary free amino acids in the four groups of air-dried sausages. The addition of MNIP promoted the production of fresh amino acids and increased the total amount of free amino acids. Glutamate and alanine, two umami and sweet amino acids, contributed the most to the taste of air-dried sausages, and the four groups of air-dried sausages were primarily umami and sweet. There were differences in flavor and taste among the four groups. The electronic nose and electronic tongue principal component analysis (PCA) could distinguish between them. The flavors and taste of the MNI and MNIP groups were similar, and the taste of FBFAP group and CK were similar. The addition of MNI and MNIP improved the umami of air-dried sausage and reduced its saltiness and bitterness. Ethyl hexanoate and ethyl isovalerate were the characteristic flavors of the MNIP group. Linalool was the characteristic flavor of the MNI group, while decanal and ethyl isovalerate were the characteristic flavors of the FBFAP group. Conclusion: The addition of MNI alone or the synergistic effect of MNI and PRO-MIX5 promotes the formation of flavor in the air-dried sausages, indicating that MNI shows great promise at promoting the formation of flavor in air-dried sausages.

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