The process to make Prosciutto can take anywhere from nine to eighteen months, depending on the size of the ham. First the ham is cleaned, salted, and left for about two months. After the salting period, the ham is washed several times to remove the salt. It is then hung in a sunny, airy place. The air is important to the final quality of the ham. The ham is left until dry. This takes a variable amount of time, depending on the local climate, and size of the ham. When the ham is completly dry, it is hung in an airy place at room temperature for up to eighteen months.
Generally speaking, Prosciutto has two forms. It can be cooked like a regular ham (this variety does not undergo the curing process), or can be served crudo, (raw , but dry-cured).
Protected designation of origin
Under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, certain well-established meat products including some local prosciutto, are covered by a Protected Designation of Origin and other, less stringent designations of geographical origin for traditional specialties.
A complete list of agricultural products with an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), listed alphabetically by nation, is at the Europa Agriculture site .
There are three famous types of prosciutto crudo exported abroad: Prosciutto di Parma, from Parma, Italy; San Daniele, which is darker in color; and Colli Berico-Euganei, from the region of Veneto.
The other protected designations for prosciutto, each slightly different in color, flavor and texture, are:
- Prosciutto di Carpegna , near Montefeltro
- Prosciutto di Modena
- Prosciutto di Norcia
- Prosciutto Toscano
Prosciutto is usually served sliced tissue-paper thin, wrapped around grissini or melon.