Parma Ham or simply Prosciutto Crudo?
Parma ham is known worldwide but if you decide to come to the Emilia Romagna Region you can simply call it "Prosciutto Crudo" not to confuse it with the cooked ham.
Making Parma Ham or Modena Ham is a long and challenging process. The aim is to produce a very thin slice of pork meat sweet and tasty from a fresh pork leg (received from authorized slaughterhouses) using only sea salt and time!
The legs are first salted by a salt-master: the pigskin is covered with humid sea salt, while the muscular parts are covered with dry salt. They are refrigerated at a temperature ranging from 1°C to 4°C, with a humidity level of approximately 80% for about a week, then a second thin coating of salt is given for another 15 to 18 days. Salt is the only preservative used in the processing method, no chemical elements are allowed.
The hams are then are washed with warm water and brushed to remove excess salt and impurities, hung in drying rooms, and finally hung on frames in well-ventilated rooms with large windows that are opened when the outside temperature and humidity are favorable;
The exposed surfaces of the hams are softened with a paste of minced lard, salt, rice flour, and pepper in order to prevent the external layers from drying too rapidly. After about seven months, 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 which determine the typical Ham flavor, perfume, and taste.
At the end of the aging period, which is by law at least 1 year starting from the date of first salting, a horse bone needle, which rapidly absorbs the product fragrances, is inserted in different parts of the ham and smelt by experts who can verify the development of the production process. Only if the quality is good hams are ready for fire branding to guarantee that all the processing stages have been carried out correctly. The symbol of Parma Ham is the Ducal Crown but a very good ham is also the Crudo of Modena, both Protected Designation of Origin, which has a similar production process but with the aging of at least 14 months.
Italians eat Parma Ham as an antipasto along with other salumi, in sandwiches or as a starter with fruit, usually melon or figs. They also add the slices to pizza (normally after it comes out of the oven). But has is also the main ingredient of several typical recipes of the area of Bologna and Modena. It is used in the filling of tortellini, the famous "crescenta ingrassata" (a sort of pizza without tomato with small pieces of prosciutto inside). If you are in Parma you cannot miss Prosciutto Crudo with "torta fritta" that in Modena is called "gnocco fritto" (a fried bread typical of Emilia, a perfect pairing with cured meat).
Moreover in Bologna and Modena we serve Parma Ham as a source for pasta.
This is why Your Own Tour together with Try And Taste cooking class suggest a special tour dedicated to Parma Ham including a visit to a famous factory, where it will be possible to see all stages of production and at the end a cooking class to learn how to prepare fresh eggs pasta for TAGLIATELLE with prosciutto sauce and TORTELLINI or to learn how to make a special CRESCENTA as an appetizer.
Visit the web site www.yourowntour.it to learn more about tours.