Prosciutto’s Savory History

A deep dive into the King of Ham

Prosciutto’s been around for hundreds of years, but not much has changed about the those salty, silky slices you’ve seen wrapped around melon at the beginning of a traditional Italian meal. We’re breaking down the heritage of this cured meat and some of its most popular forms today.

What exactly is prosciutto? There are plenty of imitations, but the real deal is Italian dry-cured ham, typically thinly sliced or left whole on the leg. The uncooked version that you’re probably most familiar with is known as prosciutto crudo–there’s a cooked version that varies in taste in texture known as prosciutto cotto, but for our purposes, we’re talking about the former.

Murray’s Prosciutto di Parma

To get these succulent slices, a leg of ham or wild boar is cleaned and salted, then let sit for two months until the juices are drained. Then, it’s washed again and hung to dry in a cool environment. How long a ham is hung and dried can depend totally on region and size, but they can be dried for up to 18 months.

Two of the most famous prosciutto varieties out there are Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto San Daniele–both of which hold DOP designations, meaning that the method and ingredients that go into these two regional delights are name-protected and cannot be made elsewhere. Place has a lot to do with flavor, so these two favorites vary slightly in taste and color.

Prosciutto San Daniele

Prosciutto San Daniele, which is made in the Northeast region of Italy, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, tends to have a slightly darker color and a sweet, mellow profile. Because of the moist, cool climate of the area where it’s made, it maintains a mild flavor and delicate texture. Typically aged for 13 months, this mouthwatering favorite pairs perfectly with the crisp white wines from the same region.

You’ve probably heard of the most famous of hams, Prosciutto di Parma. Just as Parmigiano Reggiano is called the King of Cheese, this world-renowned charcuterie is known as the King of Ham. With a history that dates back to the ancient Roman Empire, its timeless flavor has hardly changed over the centuries. This classic boasts a slightly nutty flavor and rich gaminess, with a melt-in-your-mouth silky texture that makes it a must-have for any Italian spread.

Tanara 24-Month Prosciutto di Parma Whole Leg

But if you’re really looking to go for the whole hog, so to speak, you can always get prosciutto in its most original form: the leg. At Murray’s, we offer a 14-lb. leg that comes straight from the pastures of Parma, with all the sweet, succulent flavor of the beloved slices you know and love, still on the bone. If you want to impress party guests, this is the way to go. This glorious hunk of ham is as eye-catching as it is downright delicious.

Want to see more of the King of Ham? Check out our extensive selection of prosciutto and equally savory charcuterie for some tasty inspiration.

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