What is Prosciutto? The Complete Guide

What is Prosciutto? The Complete Guide


Prosciutto is an Italian delicacy enjoyed by many people across the globe. This post entails all you need to know about prosciutto. We will discuss what prosciutto is, how prosciutto is made, types of prosciutto, and much more. Continue reading to learn more.

What is prosciutto?

Prosciutto is another name for ham in Italy. Prosciutto is made from the hind leg of a pig, it is sliced thinly and has a sweet meaty flavour with an enjoyable edge of saltiness and butter-like texture that softens in the mouth.

There are numerous versions of prosciutto in Italy. Almost every region has its own, which is always slightly different from that of another. The most prestigious and popular varieties of prosciutto are from central and northern Italy.

The texture and taste of each prosciutto are determined by the breed of pig, altitude, its diet, processing techniques, and other components.

Types of prosciutto 

There are two types of prosciutto according to its Italian history; prosciutto crude and prosciutto Cotto. The prosciutto crude is a raw and cured ham while the prosciutto Cotto is cooked or baked ham.

Prosciutto Cotto

Prosciutto Cotto is a baked or cooked ham. It has a bright pink color and is lighter in flavour than prosciutto Crudo. Prosciutto Cotto is unhurriedly cooked at a regulated temperature, then slit into tender moist slices. Occasionally, prosciutto Cotto is bonded or seasoned with spices, herbs, and truffles for an additional flavour twist.

Prosciutto Crudo

The name Crudo means raw in Italian. Hence, prosciutto Crudo is an uncooked ham. The prosciutto Crudo is seasoned and dried to perfection. The ham is well-known for its deep red color and marbled with streaks of delicious fat. Each thin slice is sweet and possesses an intense flavour. The prosciutto Crudo is the most popular across the globe, and it’s the variety available here in the United States. 

How is prosciutto made?

Prosciutto is a delicious ham made from pork legs. The pork meat is deepened in salt and left inside for a few weeks. The salt will draw out moisture and blood from the meat during this period, and that stops bacteria from finding its way into the meat. The flavours also become more concentrated when the pork legs are salted.

The next step after salting involves washing the pork legs, seasoning by hand, and drying at a controlled temperature for 18 to 30 months depending on the region. It’s the blend of salt, air, and time that gives all varieties of prosciutto their delicate and sweet flavor.

The techniques of producing prosciutto differ based on region, consortium, and producer. E.g, Prosciutto di San Daniele is produced in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Prosciutto di Parma is produced in the Parma province, Prosciutto di Modena is made in the Modena province, and more.

What is prosciutto made from?

Prosciutto is made from salted pork legs. The technique of producing prosciutto in different regions in Italy gives its unique taste. 

Types of Regional Prosciutto 

Prosciuttos are differentiated by the region in which they are made. Below are some of the most popular prosciutto brands in Italy. 

Prosciutto di Parma

Prosciutto di Parma is the most popular and largely celebrated ham in Italy. The prosciutto is loved because of its superb sweet and salty flavour. Prosciutto di Parma is salted and dried for a minimum of 18 months and mainly produced in the hills within Parma environs using Duroc, Landrace, and Large White breeds of pig. Prosciutto di Parma is well-known and respected that its Designation of Origin is protected by European Law. Prosciutto Di Parma can differ largely in flavour, occasionally adding buttery or nutty overtones to the accustomed sweet-salty combo.

Prosciutto di San Danielle

Prosciutto di San Daniele is one of the most popular hams in Italy. It has a unique taste and is produced in the village of San Daniele Del Friuli. It is known to be darker than Prosciutto di Parma and some people believe it’s sweeter. 

Prosciutto di Modena

Prosciutto di Modena is another popular ham in Italy. The prosciutto is made in the province of Modena, which is well-known for its balsamic vinegar. The prosciutto di Modena is more aromatic and less salty than prosciutto di Parma. It is enjoyed best with fruits like fig and melon.

Prosciutto Toscano

Prosciutto Toscano is known for its earthy and herbaceous flavor profile. It is cured in Tuscan spices such as garlic, pepper, juniper, and salt. Its strong seasonings make it an excellent ingredient for mid-tasting dishes. Locals in Tuscany usually enjoy it with unsalted bread. 

Can prosciutto be cooked?

Yes, prosciutto can be cooked but that’s not necessary since it has been cured, dried and eatable as purchased. You should just slice and enjoy. The fattiness and enormous flavour are what makes it expensive. You’ll render out the fat and make dryer meat dryer if you cook it.

What is prosciutto used for?

Prosciutto ham can be part of a tasty meal. Prosciutto is often served simply as an antipasto, either by itself, or as part of a salami assortment platter, often go with cheese, and some bread to temper the saltiness. However, there are numerous ways to use prosciutto, and it’s part of several recipes.

What does prosciutto taste like?

Prosciutto taste salty, flavorful, and delicately sweet. Each slice of prosciutto is streaked with fat. Some types of prosciutto are seasoned with herbs like garlic, juniper, and black pepper, which gives it a fragrant and unique flavor. Longer dried and aged prosciutto taste better.

What is the best way to eat prosciutto?

The best way to consume prosciutto is out of the paper that the seller sliced it into. You can pair it with some slices of melon or mozzarella di bufala as an appetizer or a snack. Putting it between pieces of bread is another delicious way to eat it.

Is it safe to eat prosciutto?

Yes, it is 100% safe to eat any variety of prosciutto. However, make sure you purchase it from a recognised seller. 

Why is prosciutto so expensive?

Prosciutto is expensive because of the strenuous process involved and the length of time required to produce the ham.

Is prosciutto eaten raw?

Yes, prosciutto Crudo can be eaten raw because it is mostly dry-cured or done in a style like Prosciutto di Parma. Prosciutto Cotto is the other type and it’s usually cooked or smoked and can’t be eaten raw. However, prosciutto Crudo is the most popular and available in most locations.

How much does prosciutto cost?

Well! The price of prosciutto varies from one location to another. You should visit your local prosciutto shop to know the price.

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