When we speak about Italian hams, the word prosciutto immediately comes to our minds as it is the Italian term. In Italian gastronomy, it is common to find prosciutto in the starters, especially in the famous Italian sausages and cheeses tables, which are usually accompanied by breadsticks and fruits such as melon, grapes or figs. We can also find it in salads, pizzas, sandwiches and paninis and even in the famous salad caprese, made with basil, tomato and mozzarella.
Which are Italian ham types?
There are some Italian hams with D.O. However, the most popular and exported abroad are Parma ham (prosciutto di Parma) and San Daniele ham (prosciutto di San Daniele).
The Prosciutto di Parma
This is the most famous italian ham. It is made with meat from pigs raised in northern Italy whose diet is based on chestnuts. If we compare it with the ibérico bellota ham, the Parma prosciutto presents a softer and less consistent texture. Its flavor is slightly salty and less intense than ibérico bellota hams as it has more water. Internationally, Parma ham is the main competitor of Ibérico ham because it is exported to other countries such as France and the United States.
Parma ham doesn’t have hoof, the salting process lasts 25 days and the curing time goes from 10 to 12 months, depending on the weight of the piece. The color of its meat is between pink and red, of a soft texture and not very salty taste, doesn’t matter its D.O.
San Daniele Ham (Prosciutto di San Daniele)
It is characterized by its rounded shape similar to that of a guitar, very characteristic of this type of hams. Its minimum curing time is one year and it has very similar characteristics to that of Parma. They both are even produced in nearby regions, the reason why it is not that easy to differentiate them.
Other types of Italian hams
Moreover, there are prosciutto di Modena, prosciutto Toscano (which can be differentiated from the rest because it is cured with salt, rosemary, black pepper and juniper), prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo, prosciutto di Carpegna, prosciutto di Norcia and prosciutto di Sauris. Except for the last two which have the I.G.P. distinction, the rest have D.O.
Lastly, there is the Speck Alto Adige, which has a particular and different taste from the rest of the Italian hams due to its smoking process during its production and the ingredients used. The culatello is its juiciest part and is usually sold separately and at a higher price.