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How Is Prosciutto Made in Italy vs. USA?

How Is Prosciutto Made in Italy vs. USA?

Not all pigs are equal.

We are not talking about Animal Farm. We are talking about that buttery, salty and sweet goodness you enjoy every so often and sprinkle it into your pasta dishes.

We are talking about prosciutto.

This Italian treat is enjoyed across the globe. And has varying preparation methods in different cultures and nations.

In this piece, we will explore the origins of this pre-Roman ham and outline how to add it to your next meal. If you are wondering, “How is Prosciutto made?”, or better yet, how the Italian curing method differs from the American method, keep reading.

What Is Prosciutto?

Prosciutto is a type of uncooked, dry-cured Italian ham dating back over a thousand years. The word prosciutto translated literally means ham.

There are seven different kinds of prosciutto. But Culatello continues to spark the debate of whether or not it belongs in this class as is hard to trim into the thin slices prosciutto is so famous for.

But of the seven, two are world favorites: prosciutto cotto; meaning cooked prosciutto, and prosciutto crudo which is air-dried. Both are delicious but prosciutto crudo takes center stage and will be our main focus in this piece.

The History of Prosciutto Crudo

In Parma, it all started when villagers wanted to preserve their meat for winter. The idea was to use salt on pork hinds to keep them from going bad.

But as the dish gained popularity, so did the technique evolve. It went from the tables of villagers to dining halls of nobility.

How Is Prosciutto Made?

Prosciutto is made one way: salt-preserved, air-dried and aged.

And regardless of region or country, this is the base for the preparation of this delicate, melt-in-your-mouth ham. But there are some factors, different producers play with, like the type of salt, time, and even though you may not believe, diet.

How Is Prosciutto Made in Italy?

Italy is the home of Prosciutto, so the technique in the Parma region is without compromise. It starts with a high-end diet of whey from Parmesan cheese and other premium foods like corn.

The leg is then sent to the plant where it is coated with sea salt by hand, the traditional way. It is then cured for a total of 13 months or 3 years before inspection.

How Is Prosciutto Made in the USA?

All in the love of ham, the USA has adopted its own form of Prosciutto, though it closely follows the technique used in Parma.

The best breed pigs are farmed free-range under special diets, to meet the requirements of the taste and texture. The legs are also coated with sea salt the traditional way and then coated with lard to preserve the moisture.

The legs are cured for 10-12 months.

How to Eat Prosciutto

You can snack on it from the package, throw it into your breakfast with some sunny-side-up eggs, or do it the classy way, have it with cheese. There are various prosciutto pairings you could also try as party stoppers.

According to, prosciutto is best with Swiss cheese, no questions asked. If you are a fan of sandwiches? Then a Swiss cheese sandwich with prosciutto is just the meal.

Where Is the Best Prosciutto From?

Well, that is purely subjective. Prosciutto regardless of the country is a delight to the palate. It is rustic, buttery, and salty with a hint of sweetness.

If you are a ham lover and want to try new and exciting hams, then you can certainly be a happy man in the USA, but if you prefer perfect tradition, then the Italian prosciutto will not disappoint.

We can answer the question, “how is prosciutto made?”, but we will leave the rest to your tastebuds.

Looking for more content on food? Read our food and drinks category.

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