Parma Ham is one of the proud ambassadors of Made in Italy. In each slice there is the history of an Italian territory and culture. She is the daughter of the happy marriage of two ingredients that have never been missing on the famous peninsula: salt and pork.
The salting of the meat was originally only an effective method of preservation, today it is a delicacy: the consumption of Parma raw ham as we know it today is recent, and research dates back to the nineteenth century, because in ancient times salting was more abundant and the meat thus preserved was palatable only after washing and cooking.
Taste, perfume and the happy encounter with the palace have led Parma Ham to win important awards, such as the DOP brand. Its nutritional characteristics and the ease and versatility of use multiply its value and make it suitable for tables of all ages and tastes.
The origins of Parma Ham are written in its own name: in Latin “perex suctum”, that is dried, or according to other scholars “prae suctus”, sucked. The etymology of the term refers, in any case, to the production method which involves salting the fresh pork leg. During the seasoning time, the salt dries up the meat, thus preventing the development of bacteria and mold and promoting conservation. Already in Roman times Parma was renowned for the production of seasoned thighs for pig farms. The civilization of the Terramare of Emilia, ancient Bronze Age villages, had already developed a structured agricultural culture and pig farms. The presence of salt water sources in the area, despite the distance from the sea, was the basis for the birth of this well-known excellence on site.
The time and history and the wisdom of the producers’ hands have refined this traditional Italian element so much that in 1963 the need was felt to build the Parma Ham Consortium, with the aim of protecting and enhancing this food of the world. The Consortium’s initiatives protect the name and guarantee the production method. The DOP brand ensures compliance with the geographical area of processing and transformation of the raw material up to the finished product.
Only producers of a limited area can bear the mark:
“The territory of the province of Parma is south of via Emilia at a distance of at least 5 km. from this, up to an altitude of 900 meters, bordered on the east by the Enza river and on the west by the Stirone stream”
The production specification
The things destined to become Parma PDO raw are those of pigs born and raised in 10 Italian regions, exclusively of Large White Landrace and Duroc breed. The feeding of pigs only requires the use of corn, barley and whey, which derives from the position of Parmesan. Once they reach 9 months of age and an average weight of 160 kg, the pigs are introduced into the Parma ham production circuit.
The specification provides for 9 processing phases:
Cooling, 24 hours of storage in cells at zero degrees centigrade;
trimming for the elimination of excess fat and rind;
salting in several stages, with wet salt on the rind and dry salt on the exposed portion of the lean parts;
rest lasting 60-80 days at a temperature of 1-5 degrees centigrade and constant air exchange;
washing with lukewarm water and drying in the air or in a dryer;
pre-seasoning and grooming of hams hanging on traditional scalere;
sugnature of the muscular strength discovered to soften the surface layers;
quality control, which includes, among others, an olfactory examination to establish the success of the production process.
After 12 months and at the end of the inspections of the inspectors of the Parma Quality Institute, things are ready for marking and distribution.
Parma ham is a “short label” food: it contains only two ingredients, the pork leg and the salt. No additives or preservatives are used in its processing phase. .
From a nutritional point of view it is a source mainly of proteins, which make up about 25% of the weight.
The fat component represents approximately 18% of the weight. The fraction of unsaturated fats is clearly higher than that of saturated fats: 65% against 35%. The contribution of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat from the omega-6 series, is also interesting.
Content is the cholesterol intake, about 40 mg in a 50 g portion of Parma Ham: less than 15% of the daily requirement in a healthy adult.
How to taste
Parma Ham is as good as it is. A slice of bread and a slice of raw and everything needed to savor the taste and aroma of this Italian excellence. Excellent also paired with figs or melon and side dishes with fresh seasonal vegetables. The wine chosen for the meal can favor an explosion of taste, among the Italian ones the most suitable are the white Lugana or Albana di Romagna or the red and fragrant Lambrusco.
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