Prosciuto Ham Prosciutto is a flavorful, delicately sweet, and salty product. It typically has a salmon pink to brownish-red color and each slice is streaked with fat. Some prosciutto varieties are seasoned with spices and herbs like black pepper, garlic, juniper, and rosemary. This gives the product a more unique flavor that is fragrant with spices.
To make prosciutto, pork legs are salted and air-dried for several months. Once the meat has lost enough water weight to be preserved, it is pressed into a dense block of ham that can easily last for years without spoiling. The flavor of the meat remains even after this preservation process, making it an ideal food to be eaten on its own. Prosciutto is often used in cooking or added to dishes because it adds richness and flavor to many foods.
Often, prosciutto is thinly sliced and served as an appetizer with crusty bread, melon, or gourmet cheeses. The meat can also be cut into cubes and added to pasta, salads, or soups. Prosciutto can also be fried quickly in a skillet to make it crisp like bacon (called crudo).
Prosciutto is a popular ingredient in Italian cooking, and the country is one of the world's leading producers. In fact, Italy consumes more prosciutto every year than any other nation. Prosciutto from Parma is also particularly well-known for its flavor and quality.
A few years ago there was a salmonella scare in Italy and some of the country's ham exports were temporarily halted. Italian producers actually lost money because they had so much meat on hand that they could not export while waiting for their salmonella test results to come back clean.
Prosciutto is best when it is fresh, but it does not require any special handling after it is purchased. If it is not used immediately, prosciutto can be tightly wrapped and placed in the freezer for up to 6 months. It should also be discarded if it has been frozen for this long because the flavor will have changed from freezer burn.
Prosciutto has an intensely rich flavor and aroma that can enhance almost any dish. It pairs well with earthy vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, and artichokes. The meat is also delicious with red wines and full-bodied beers.
The taste of prosciutto carries notes of salt, sweetness, umami (a savory taste), and nuttiness. The fat in the meat melts at body temperature creating richness which helps to enhance this particular flavor combination.