What is Parma Prosciutto?

Have you ever wondered what Parma Prosciutto is? Where did it come from? How is it fixed and prepared? These questions speak of a ham that is dry cured and served to people uncooked. The word Parma is an Italian word that means ham. It is usually thin sliced and is different from other cooked ham. Here is a bit of the history of Parma Prosciutto.

Parma Prosciutto has its beginnings that date back to the Roman period to a town named Parma which was at the center of a province named Cisalpine Gaul. Cisalpine Gaul was a province of the Roman Empire. The citizens of the province were known all over the region as people who raised herds of pigs. They were also known to have mastered the craft of curing Parma Prosciutto. It was during the 2nd century that a man by the name of Cato, who lived around 100 B.C, published a writing that gave detailed instructions for the making of prosciutto. His writing described the practice of burying the legs of pigs in tubs of salt. The legs were then taken and dried and finally smoked for added flavor. This process has been unchanged for hundreds of years to the present.

In more recent history Parma Prosciutto was a delicacy that was featured on tables during the classical times. Tradition has it that Hannibal fortified his troops with wine and bread from the Parma region. Within Parma is a 13th century cathedral that has a door with an engraving showing the months of the year where November is known by killing of the pigs. It was during these late months that families in Parma would take their pigs and butcher them. The majority of the animal was preserved and cured to be eaten at a later time. The region continues to this day to celebrate by serving Parma Prosciutto, prepared a number of different ways.

During the curing months of Parma Prosciutto, local families had to aid in the preparation and curing of Parma Prosciutto to make sure it was done on time. A person could walk through a house in the fall and see ham after ham hanging from the ceiling. Later in the history of Parma Prosciutto was cured and dried in what is called apartment houses which had narrow windows that let air in to cure the hams. Before Parma Prosciutto could be hung to dry the pork was rubbed with large amounts of salt equal to the weight of the ham. Once salted the ham is washed thoroughly and then hung in the apartment houses. They were left in what is called drying rooms for up to 12 months. In some cases early on they were left to dry for two years. Once Parma Prosciutto was ready for serving it was served to people in really thin slice. People were given three or four pieces that were meticulously placed on a plate. Bread was also served to supplement the meal. A wine from the region named Malvasta was served as the beverage with Parma Prosciutto. Each plate was prepared carefully so as to articulate the experience for the eater.

The preparation process of Parma Prosciutto has made its way into literature all over the world. Some of the other authors of the preparation process were Polibio, Plauto, and Orazio. During the 14th century Parma Prosciutto preparation was found in the literature Libro de Cocina. During the 16th and 17th century references are seen in the Colonna wedding menu, and a work by Carlo Nascia entitled Ranuccio.

In today’s time many people wonder has industrialization taken away from the quality of preparation found in doing things by hand. Industrializing the process of Parma Prosciutto only made the process more sanitary. Great lengths were taken to keep the characteristics of Parma Prosciutto close to the way it was done by hand. Quality was never lost; it was made cleaner through industrialization.

In today’s preparation process Parma Prosciutto is cleaned and then salted. Once salted it is left for two months. During the two month time Parma Prosciutto is pressed very carefully so as not to break the bone. All of the blood is then drained out of the meat during this time. Once the two months is up the ham is washed thoroughly to remove the salt. The Parma Prosciutto is then hung in a dark room that is that is ventilated with cold air until it is fully dried. Once dried, Parma Prosciutto is hung again in air at room temperature for up to eighteen months. In some Parma Prosciutto sodium or potassium nitrates are used to help cure the meat.

To aid in the quality of Parma Prosciutto a panel called the Prosciutto di Parma Consortium was established in 1963. The panel was to regulate and protect the quality of the ingredients used in Parma Prosciutto. The panel was given till 1978 get regulation established and have a means of enforcing the regulations. A manual was written to articulate the set standard process for preparing Parma Prosciutto. If Parma Prosciutto meets the set standard it is mark with a crown symbol of the panel. Not only does the panel protect quality, it also promotes the product. The panel is recognized all over the world and operates all over Europe and in many other countries.

What must take place for a ham to qualify to be called Parma Prosciutto? Parma Prosciutto must be from pigs raised in Parma region. The Parma region is known for its climate. Winds from the Versilia region calm as they move through the tree groves in the area. The wind then gets drier as it moves towards Parma. Residence claim that the air is what gives Parma Prosciutto its sweet taste.

Nutrition is a major concern for almost every person. Most people want to eat right and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Is Parma Prosciutto healthy to eat? One ounce of Parma Prosciutto, about two slices, has 75 calories, six grams of protein, and six grams of fat. Of the fat 2/3 of it is unsaturated fat. People who are on a low-carb diet love this meat because it has no carbohydrates. Athletes in Italy and other countries use Parma Prosciutto as an energy boasting source. Parma Prosciutto also contains vitamins, like vitamin B and thiamin. Parma Prosciutto contains 500 milligrams of sodium per serving. The sodium is said to replace electrolytes for athletes that are involved in high impact sports. Many climbers and campers take Parma Prosciutto with them because it contains very little moisture and it will not spoil in short time. People also like the ham do the fact that it is easy on the stomach. Parma Prosciutto digests very easily. It is said to be easy to chew and the stomachs acids break Parma Prosciutto down with very little effort.

Many people have different ways of preparing Parma Prosciutto. Some preparers like to serve Parma Prosciutto with other dishes like halibut that is wrapped in Parma Prosciutto. Others like to mix it in with a specially made salad and serve it before a main meal. Parma Prosciutto makes a great appetizer before a large fancy meal. A big way of serving the Parma is by making small sandwiches with the meat and serving them on a tray. No matter how you fix Parma Prosciutto, the ham itself has a flavor all to its own that can never be duplicated.

So where can a person go and pick up Parma Prosciutto? Parma Prosciutto can be purchased in specialty stores. Simply head to the deli department and request the meat. It is suggested to ask to see the ham’s ducal crown seal to make sure it is genuine. Have the agent slice the Parma Prosciutto into 1/16 thick slices for sandwiches; for diced 1/4 inch slices are recommended. Should there not be a butcher to aid in slicing the Parma Prosciutto it is also sold in prepackaged containers, again look for the official seal. To store the Parma Prosciutto, keep it wrapped and in the refrigerator. If serving small slices of the meat, serve within two days. If the thicker slices are wrapped well it may keep for up to a week. It is recommend not to freeze Parma Prosciutto as it may damage the texture and the flavor will not be the same.