Italian Prosciutto Ham
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Prosciutto, or specifically Prosciutto Crudo, is an Italian air-dried ham. Always served thinly sliced, this uncooked dry-cured ham is famous all over the world. In Italian, the word Prosciutto simply means Ham, so when in Italy it is important to ask for Prosciutto Crudo when ordering this air-dried specialty. Prosciutto Cotto is the Italian phrase to describe a cooked ham, which is prepared in a similar way to the types of hams more commonly produced in America for deli slicing or baking for dinner. Prosciutto di Parma is a name-protected variety of Prosciutto Crudo that must be produced in the region of Italy surrounding the city of Parma.
Prosciutto Crudo comes from the hind leg of a pig. The name Prosciutto is derived from the Latin word meaning "dried", a description of the fully cured ham. The curing process of Prosciutto Crudo is comprised of salting, washing and hanging the ham to air dry in a cool, dark, dry environment. The goal is to use the minimum amount of salt to keep the meat sweet tasting and tender. This extensive curing process may last between nine and twenty four months.
Prosciutto di Parma
The history of Prosciutto can be traced back to Roman times. Pigs were raised in the Italian province of Parma, known for its unique climate which produced outstanding Prosciutto. Prosciutto di Parma, or Parma Ham, is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product in the European Union today, which ensures that the age old traditions of production are maintained. Every leg of Prosciutto di Parma must meet the stringent standards of the Prosciutto di Parma Consortium, a regulating body which brands each ham with its official certification mark. Prosciutto di Parma must be produced in the Parma region from pigs raised within ten regions of central and northern Italy. The pigs must also meet quality standards and be fed a diet of grains, cereals and the whey of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Prosciutto di Parma loses approximately 25% of its weight due to moisture loss during the curing process. The resulting product, Prosciutto di Parma, is a supple, sweet ham filled with rich concentrated flavor. Prosciutto di Parma is an all-natural product with no additives such as nitrites or nitrates.
Prosciutto di San Daniele
Each region of Italy produces Prosciutto, using varied drying times and more or less salt which results in a wide range of aromas and flavors. Prosciutto di San Daniele is also a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product from the Friuli region of Italy. It is even sweeter and darker in color with a more delicate flavor than Prosciutto di Parma. Prosciutto di San Daniele is made with local sea salt and the hams are stacked on top of each other during the curing process. Prosciutto Toscano (PDO) comes from the Tuscany region of Italy and rather than sweetness it has a savory flavor due to the addition of such seasonings and herbs like garlic, rosemary and juniper.
Prosciutto Serving Suggestions
Prosciutto is often served in an antipasto. It is often enjoyed served with melon, wrapped around breadsticks, or as an accompaniment to vegetables. Prosciutto is also ideal for stuffing for breads, meats or even as a topping pizza. Prosciutto is perfect in a panini, sandwich or atop a salad. Since Prosciutto has a consistency that is delicate and slightly sticky, it is best to cut it with a sharp knife or shred it by hand.
igourmet offers many varieties of Prosciutto, some imported from Italy, others made in Germany and the US. Our authentic boneless Prosciutto di Parma Whole Leg is aged for at least 400 days. igourmet's gourmet meat selection also includes bacon, salami, ham and much more. Available in whole leg or pre-sliced varieties, igourmet offers the most complete line of Prosciutto on the web.
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