The Story of Prosciutto di Parma

THE MAKING PROCESS Since Roman times, the unique conditions of the Parma Region have made it possible to produce the highest quality hams that have been appreciated by gourmets for centuries. Making Parma hams is a long and painstaking process; all producers of Prosciutto di Parma share one goal: to cure a leg of pork with pure sea salt in order to keep the meat as sweet-tasting and as supple as possible.

SALTING The legs are first salted by a highly trained “maestro salatore”, or salt master. The leg is refrigerated for about a week and gets a second thin coating of salt which is left on another 15 to 18 days, depending on weight.

RESTING Next, the hams hang for a period ranging between 60 to 90 days in refrigerated, humidity-controlled rooms. The meat darkens but will return to its original rosy colour in the final days of curing.

WASHING AND DRYING The hams are washed with warm water and brushed to remove any excess of salt and impurities, then hung in drying rooms for a few days.

INITIAL CURING For about three months, the hams are hung on frames in well-ventilated rooms. GREASING The exposed surfaces of the hams are softened with a paste of minced lard and salt to prevent the external layers from drying too rapidly.

FINAL CURING In the 7th month, the ham is transferred to the “cellars”, rooms with less air and light and hang on racks until the curing is completed. During the seasoning, important biochemical and enzymatic processes occur: these processes determine the typical Parma Ham flavour, perfume, taste and easy digestibility.

BRANDING At the end of the aging period, which is by law at least 1 year starting from the date of first salting (and up to three years), experts verify the development of the curing process. Only then, the hams are ready for the fire-branding with the Ducal Crown (the only official certification stamp).

There is no substitute for the Prosciutto di Parma – the tradition and how it is made means guaranteed quality. It is a wonderful product and incredibly easy to use in delicious recipes that will always impress. For a few well known favourites championing Prosciutto di Parma check out a Chef Luca Ciano’s bruschetta recipe, lasagne recipe and grilled asparagus grissini and Prosciutto di Parma.

A promotional campaign sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency and the Consortium of Prosciutto di Parma. For more information please see the Consortium website here.