The designation of origin "Parma Ham" is reserved for the ham with a label which prevents permanently the identification, obtained from fresh legs of pigs born, raised and slaughtered in one of the regions indicated by art. Ministerial Decree February 3 15 1993 n.253, produced according to the requirements of law and regulations aged in the typical production of art. February 2 13 1990 law n. 26 for the minimum period of 12 months from salting.
The weight refers to the hams on the bone when applying the mark above.
The specific product characteristics of Parma ham are:
a) rounded outer form: without the distal part (leg), no external imperfections that affect the image of the product, with limited muscular part of discovery over the femoral head (nut) to a maximum of 6 inches (trimmed short) ;
b) Weight: normally between eight and ten kilograms, but not less than seven;
c) color when cut: uniform pink to red, interspersed with pure white fat parts;
d) aroma and flavor meat has a delicate flavor and sweet, slightly salty with a fragrant aroma;
e) the characterization by the observance of analytical parameters predetermined.
"Prosciutto di Parma", after the application of the mark, may also be sold boned, or in pieces of varying shape and weight or sliced and suitably packaged.
Where it is not possible to keep the mark on the product, it must be affixed indelibly and removed from the packaging, under the control of the Body enabled.
In these cases, the packaging operations are to be carried out in the typical production area.
The packaging of Parma ham can happen in modified atmosphere packaging or vacuum and the size, shape and weight variables.
All packaging of Parma ham must have a triangle positioned at the top left top of the pack, accounting for 25% of it, showing the consortium mark and the words "Prosciutto di Parma". Protected designation of origin in accordance with Law No. 13 February 1990 26. Packaged under the supervision of charge.
The typical area of production of "Prosciutto di Parma" includes the territory of the province of Parma, located south of the Via Emilia in that lies no less than five kilometers, up to an altitude of no more than 900 meters, bordered to the east by the Enza river and to the west by the Stirone.
This area is favored by exceptional ecological, climatic and environmental conditions. In fact only here, precious and unique, the air that "prosciuga" and makes the ham of Parma sweet and exclusive.
Air coming from the sea of Versilia, softens among olive and pine trees of Val Magra, dries the Apennine passes (Cisa, Lagastrello, Cirone) acquiring the rich fragrance of chestnut trees to blow up between the valleys of Parma hams.
Just to make the most of these breezes, the production plants are oriented transversely to the flow of air and have large and numerous windows, so the aeration can give his decisive contribution to the processes of enzymatic and biochemical transformation of the product characterize the "Prosciutto di Parma".
These biochemical changes, which occur during the long period of maturation follow their precise performance thanks to the ecological conditions that characterize the valleys Parma and extent so that optimal do not occur in any other place.
This is all the more apparent by comparing the Parma ham with other products subjected to artificial treatments in order to give them the look, but nothing other than the appearance, of a regular maturation.
These are products which, both for the effect of the high salt content is a result of the exposure in environments necessarily put in the absence of ideal natural conditions, dry up in a short time and, in particular, assume (more externally than in internal parts) the external appearance of the ham that has undergone a rational and natural curing process, without having either the scent or fragrance nor the sweetness characteristic.
The area "upstream" of the typical area of production of "Prosciutto di Parma" is also characterized by the lack of production facilities that can, through liquid emissions and / or gaseous, determine environmental pollution.
This characterization is also preserved by law protection 13 / 2 / 90 No. 26, which, in fact, states that: "In order to safeguard the conditions of the production environment, which affect the organoleptic characteristics and product Ham Parma, the settlement within the typical zone of unhealthy industries first class - as identified in accordance with Article 216 of the consolidated health laws approved by Royal Decree in July 27 1934, n. 1265 - and any other activity that undermines a balanced maintenance of the environmental conditions, is subject to prior favorable opinion of the regional committee for air pollution responsible for the area. "
The adoption of such strict rules (for "unhealthy company of First Instance" the national standard cited considers practically all manufacturing and even the stables for cattle) is justified only by a deep-rooted knowledge of objective necessity of preserving and protecting the environment.
The current national legal framework, which is part of this specification, in form and substance, only represents the consolidation and subsequent codification of course that human factors and manufacturing have historically done, in particular environmental and geographical contexts, in 'scope of areas respectively suited for the production of the raw material destined to fund the "Prosciutto di Parma" and the transformation of "Prosciutto di Parma" same areas rigorously identified and demarcated.
The methods of production of "Prosciutto di Parma" are covered by the Law of the Italian Republic in February 13 1990 No. 26 and 15 February 1993 Ministerial Decree n. ° 253 and most recently have been recognized by the EC Regulation. The 1107 12.06.96.
Are confirmed methodologies and requirements relating to the matters described in the tabs B and C.
The "Prosciutto di Parma", provides 9 phases:
7. Pre-curing - Grooming
The pig must be:
- Healthy - rested - fasting from 15 hours
Under these conditions the animal is slaughtered, then the leg is isolated from the carcase.
The ham is brought in special cells isolated cooling 24 hours:
- To bring the temperature of the thigh from 40 ° C. in 0 ° C.;
- Because the cold tightens the meat that can be trimmed easily.
During the cooling phase the ham undergoes a weight decrease of at least 1%.
Through trimming, removing fat and rind, it gives the ham a characteristic rounded shape to "chicken leg".
The trimming is done for two reasons, one aesthetically distinctive, the other technician, it favors salagation.
During this operation are discarded thighs that have even the slightest imperfection.
By trimming the thigh muscle and lose fat for a 24% of its weight.
The thighs used for the production of Parma ham must not suffer, except refrigeration, any preservation treatment, including freezing.
The thigh cooled and trimmed starts by slaughterhouses establishments salting; it is very important that this operation is performed on the thighs with the right temperature and uniform; In fact, a thigh too cold absorbs little salt, while a thigh not cold enough may suffer deterioration phenomena.
Salting is done using wet salt and dry salt: the parts of the rind are covered with wet salt, while the lean parts are sprinkled with dry salt.
Are not used chemicals, preservatives or other additives, nor do you use smoking process.
The hams are placed in a cold room at a temperature ranging between 1 and 4 ° C., With a humidity dell'80% approximately. After 6 / 7 day stay in this cell, said first salt, the hams are recovered, cleaned by salt residue and finally subjected to a very light salt, then return in a new cold store, said second salt, and remain there for 15 / 18 days depending on their weight.
During this period the ham slowly absorbs the salt and transfers part of its moisture.
At the end of this period of brining the weight loss is the 3,5 / 4% approximately.
After clearing the residual salt, the hams are placed in solitary rest for periods ranging from a 60 90 days with a humidity of 75% at a temperature from 1 5 ° C.
During this phase, the ham must "breathe" without moist or too dry.
It is very frequent change of air in the cells.
The salt penetrates deeply absorbed evenly distributed within the muscle mass.
The weight loss in rest is approximately about 8 / 10%.
The hams are washed with warm water, scraped into the rind to remove any salt and impurities.
Drying is achieved by exploiting the natural environmental conditions, sunny days dry and ventilated, or in special drying rooms.
It happens in big rooms with windows opposite, where the hams are hung on the traditional "scalere".
The windows are opened as regards relations humidity indoor / outdoor and indoor humidity / moisture of the product.
These reports must allow a gradual drying of the product and as constant as possible.
After the step of pre-curing is beaten to confer better rounded shape and, sometimes, the dimple around the nut is sprinkled with seasoning to keep dry the contact area.
The drop in weight at this stage is equal to 8 / 10%.
The dimple around the walnut, the muscular part discovery and possible cracks are covered with lard, a mixture of ground pork fat which is added a p
The sugnatura performs the function of softening the layers superficial muscular avoiding a too rapid drying of the same with respect to the internal ones and allowing a further loss of moisture.
The suet is not considered an ingredient in Italian legislation.
Survey and Aging.
After smearing, the 7 th month, the ham is transferred in the "cellar", freshest local and less ventilated rooms pre-seasoning.
On transfer is undertaking the survey, an essential moment in the "life of the ham."
In this phase, a bone needle horse, which has the particularity to quickly absorb and then riperdere the aromas of the product, is made to penetrate in various points of muscle mass and is then swirled by skilled workers equipped with particular olfactory characteristics that may determine the good performance of the manufacturing process.
During the ripening occurring important biochemical and enzymatic processes that determine the characteristic aroma and flavor of the ham.
In the course of curing the weight loss is about 5%.
After 12 months of ripening and after appropriate investigations by inspectors Body Enabled brand is affixed to the fire "ducal crown".
The Italian text is taken from:
Production regulations - Prosciutto di Parma
Photo by: David Blaine