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How to make a Parma ham

If you love the taste of an authentic Italian Parma ham, then try making your own at home. Parma ham, otherwise referred to as prosciutto ham, ages for months and obtains a rich flavour from the seasonings used during the curing process. The salt used in the curing process helps preserve the ham. Before the invention of fridges, it was common for people to cure their meat. While technology has eliminated the necessity of curing foods, many continue to cure their own ham and various other meats to keep the tradition alive and enjoy the succulent taste that curing provides.

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  1. Place the pork leg in the refrigerator overnight. Chilling the meat helps it to absorbs the cure and flavours, ensuring that it will cure properly.

  2. Combine the sugar, sea salt and Cure 2. This creates the cure mixture for the Parma ham. Cure 2, referred to as Prague Powder 2, aids in the dry curing process. The mixture of salt, sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite keeps the meat safe from harmful bacteria.

  3. Rub half of the cure mixture into the meat. Make sure that it gets into all crevices.

  4. Wrap the pork leg tightly in saran wrap. Place the pork in the refrigerator for 15 days. Keep the temperature between 1.11 and 5 degrees Celsius (34 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit).

  5. Remove the saran wrap from the pork leg. Allow any excess water to drain from the ham. Rub the meat with the rest of the cure mixture.

  6. Rewrap the ham with saran wrap. Place it back in the refrigerator for another 15 days.

  7. Unwrap the ham. Soak the ham in tepid water. Make tepid water by combining 2 parts cold water with 1 part boiling water. Allow the ham to soak for 30 minutes.

  8. Dry the ham with paper towels. Place a meat hook through the pork's foot and hang it in the refrigerator for six hours. You may need to place a piece of wood in your refrigerator to support the weight of the hanging pork leg.

  9. Remove the ham from the refrigerator. Hang the Parma ham in a cool room for three days with a temperature no greater than 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). You will want to keep the ham away from harmful chemicals, so try hanging it in an aired cupboard.

  10. Combine the coarse black pepper with lard. Rub the lard and pepper mixture over the meat side of the leg. This creates suino which protects the ham from flies and from drying out too fast (and from smelling too bad). Once you lather the meat with the lard, hang the ham for another 30 days at 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) and 70 per cent relative humidity. Use an air humidifier to help you achieve the appropriate level.

  11. Cure the leg up to two months. Remove the bone and vacuum seal the meat. Freeze the meat until you're ready to consume.

  12. Tip

    If you notice mould forming on the meat, you will need to pack additional salt into that crevice. Remove the mould and add more salt to keep any bacteria from growing.

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Things You'll Need

  • 1 pork leg with bone
  • 241 g (8.5 oz) demerara sugar
  • 340 g (12 oz)coarse sea salt
  • 28.4 g (1 oz) Cure 2
  • Saran wrap
  • Tepid water
  • Paper towels
  • Meat hook
  • 42.5 g (1.5 oz) coarse ground black pepper
  • 284 g (10 oz) lard

About the Author

Angela LaFollette holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising with a minor in political science from Marshall University. LaFollette found her passion for writing during an internship as a reporter for "The West Virginia Standard" in 2007. She has more than six years of writing experience and specializes in topics in garden and pets.

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