Types of Prosciutto

Updated February 21, 2017

Prosciutto is one type of ham produced in Italy. This ham is sliced very thin and served uncooked. While most individuals are familiar with the famous Prosciutto di Parma there are actually several different types of prosciutto produced in 11 different regions in Italy. Once the pig is butchered the ham is salted, air cured and seasoned. The methods used to make prosciutto vary, which, in turn, produce different flavours.

Prosciutto di Carpegna

This prosciutto is made in the town of Carpegna, Italy and is considered more flavourful due to the abundance of pepper used in the spice and pepper mixture. To make Prosciutto di Carpegna, the pig is raised and slaughtered in Lombardy, the Marches or Emilia Romagna. Salt is rubbed into the fresh ham by hand and left to rest for one week. More salt is rubbed into the ham, and it is then left to cure for two weeks. After two weeks, the outside of the ham is rubbed with a mixture of pepper, spices, flour and lard. The ham is then left to age at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius for 14 months.

Prosciutto di San Daniele

Prosciutto di San Daniele must meet three conditions. The ham thighs must come from pigs raised in any of the 10 northern or central regions of Italy. The ham must be processed in Friuli using techniques from the ancient tradition of making prosciutto. This includes raising and butchering the pigs at the same time each year and using natural sea salt with no preservatives or additives. The third requirement is that the ageing of the ham occurs in San Daniele del Friuli, as there is something about the air that is special to this type of prosciutto.

Prosciutto di Parma

Prosciutto di Parma is the most well known prosciutto outside of Italy. Prosciutto has a long history in Parma, and records have been found that describe ham production from 100BC. There are four essential ingredients to Proscuitto di Parma: Italian pigs, Parma air, salt and curing time. Specifically, the curing time and salt content are key steps. The ham is only cured until it has absorbed just enough salt to be preserved. The ham is considered preserved when it has lost up to 25 per cent of its weight from moisture loss.

Tuscan Prosciutto Crudo

This is the Tuscan version of prosciutto and has strong flavours of juniper, rosemary, garlic and pepper, which are aromatic and flavourful herbs. Tuscany does not raise a lot of pigs, so the process once the pigs are butchered is specific to Tuscan Prosciutto. Pigs must be at least nine months old and no less than 145 kilograms. Before the ham is cured, each piece must weigh at least 11 kilograms. Ageing must last at least one year, although most producers will age the ham for 14 to 15 months.

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About the Author

Liz Tomas began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in the "American Journal of Enology and Viticulture," "BMC Genomics" and "PLoS Biology." She holds a Master of Science in food science from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in oenology at Lincoln University.