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About Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)

PDO is short for Protected Designation of Origin, a European community system designed to provide legally binding name protection for an elite group of high-quality foods. All cheeses, cured meats and other products awarded PDO certification are made according to traditional methods in a specific geographic region in Europe. The PDO system aids consumers, retailers, chefs, and others in distinguishing between authentic European products and their many imitators.  

How to identify a PDO product:

All Icons of European Taste products have earned the PDO stamp. Because of the greatness of these foods and their popularity – both at home and abroad – imitations have naturally sprung up around the world. Such products bear none of the history, tradition, or quality of the originals. While this may seem inevitable, and consumers are free to buy what they want, it’s important that they know what they are buying and how it is made.

The producers of Prosciutto di San Daniele PDO, Grana Padano PDO and Prosciutto di Parma PDO are the focus of an exciting joint promotional campaign that seeks not only to raise awareness about these unique foods among American and Canadian retailers and consumers, but also to emphasize the importance of quality, authenticity, and tradition. Although these products all happen to be from Italy, they are indicative of the many traditional foods from Europe that are unique to their respective areas, as well as the production methods which have been handed down from generation to generation by proud artisans who are in tune with the land and the seasons.

Pork, Salt, Air, and Time

The history and region of Prosciutto di Parma are what set it apart from other prosciutti around the world.

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Where is Prosciutto di Parma produced?

Prosciutto di Parma is produced in the gently rolling hills in the province south of Parma, where dry and aromatic breezes from the Apennine mountains create the perfect environmental conditions for the natural “drying” of the hams.

 

Prosciutto di Parma can only be made from hind legs of specially selected bred pigs raised according to the highest standards. Only 10 regions of Italy are approved by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma.

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How is Prosciutto di Parma produced?

Prosciutto di Parma's aging process is completely natural and contains no additives, preservatives, or hormones. Fresh legs are salted by hand by the maestro salatore (the salt master).The process is inspected using the strictest quality control measures to ensure each leg upholds the quality and standards of the Consorzio. 

  • Tattoos and Tagging

  • Salting 

  • Resting + Salt adsorption

  • Washing 

  • Initial curing 

  • Lard layering

  • Final Curing

  • Prosciutto Inspection

  • Parma Crown Branding

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Flavor & Natural Aging

Prosciutto de Parma is all natural, produced without the use of any additives or chemicals. Each leg destined for the U.S. must be cured for a minimum of 400 days according to the Consorzio’s guidelines, but can age for as long as three years, which causes a slight variation in flavor. These different flavor profiles and textures of the meat may in turn influence how you prepare or pair a dish that uses the product. As Prosciutto di Parma ages, the flavor becomes more complex and sweeter, perfect for enjoying on its own. Keep in mind also that aging ends when the leg is deboned, but you can continue to age a bone-in leg, if it’s not refrigerated.

14-16 Months
The ham is very moist, and still developing its full flavor. Since it is still fairly mild in taste, it can adapt itself to many different applications. About 70% of Prosciutto di Parma in the United States is of this age. Use for appetizers, cooking, fillings for pasta or any dish where you will be bringing heat into the recipe.


16-24 Months
Here, the prosciutto flavor is slightly more defined and present. Often described as nutty or earthy, it is best eaten alone or on top of a charcuterie board to balance out other flavors.


24-36 Months
Prosciutto di Parma from two years and beyond should never be cooked, and only eaten as is or with light cheeses that don’t compete with its flavor. This aged prosciutto has a taste that’s more mature and full-flavored, with less moisture.
 

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Flavor, Storage & and Care of Prosciutto di Parma

Taking care of the product can extend its shelf life and preserve the flavor of Prosciutto di Parma for months after purchase. It is important to keep Prosciutto di Parma away from strong aromas like onions, which can affect the flavor. It is also critical that Prosciutto di Parma be kept away from the oven and hot surfaces.

 

Click to learn more about the best ways to store and care for Prosciutto di Parma