Prosciutto di Parma PDO is a raw, cured charcuterie product, obtained through the processing of fresh pig thighs from pig breeds registered in the Italian Herd Book.
The production area of Prosciutto di Parma PDO is within parts of the territory of the Province of Parma, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. The pigs are born and raised in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont, Molise, Umbria, Tuscany, The Marches, Abruzzo and Lazio.
The pigs used must be at least nine months old, with an average weight of 160 kg. After slaughtering, the hind legs are cooled for a whole day before being trimmed to obtain the characteristic rounded “chicken leg” shape. Trimming also favours salting, for which only sea salt is used, without the addition of additives or preservatives. The legs are lightly salted a second time and remain in the salt cells for a total of one month. Once the salt residue has been removed, the legs are left to rest for a period of 60-90 days, in cells with suitable humidity and temperature. The ham is then washed in tepid water to remove impurities. During the pre-curing stage, the hams are hung on traditional wood frames called “scalere” and left to dry for 6-7 months in large rooms with windows on either side, left open depending on both the internal and external climatic conditions. After six months, the uncovered area of muscle is softened with a thin layer of leaf lard, a paste made of lard, salt and pepper. In the seventh month, the hams are transferred to the cellar for curing. Twelve months after the start of the entire process, inspectors from the certification body “sound” the product, an olfactory test that involves a horse bone needle being inserted into the ham. If the product meets the standard, the ham is then fire branded with the “Ducal Crown”.
Appearance and Flavour
Prosciutto di Parma PDO is roundish in shape and is without the trotter. The lean part of the slice is pink in colour, while the fat is white. The taste is sweet and delicate, and it has a fragrant aroma.
Prosciutto di Parma PDO boasts very ancient origins. The first evidence of raw ham processing in the Parma area can be found in the II century B.C. Latin work, Cato. Starting from the year One Thousand, raw ham began to take on a certain importance in the area and, between the III and IV centuries, the Beccai Corporation was established in Parma. This pork meat producing association was split in 1459, when the Lardaioli, those who killed the pigs and salted the meat, decided to found their own corporation. One of the first mentions of “Prosciutto di Parma” dates back to the VI century and can be found in a poem by Pomponio Torelli.
Boned or whole Prosciutto di Parma PDO can be kept in an environment with a temperature of 17-20°C. The deboned packed product can be conserved for up to 6 months in a refrigerated environment, at a temperature of no higher than 10°C. When very thinly sliced, Prosciutto di Parma PDO can be eaten either alone or accompanied by bread or the traditional deep-fried Parmesan pie. It can be served with fruits like melon or figs.
Prosciutto di Parma PDO is a completely natural product: only Italian pork and a pinch of salt. It is produced exclusively in a limited area of Parma, where the climatic conditions are ideal for the natural curing that gives Prosciutto di Parma its sweetness, flavour and particular characteristics.