The Tale Of Prosciutto Crudo San Daniele

September 26, 2011

Today we're talking about Prosciutto Crudo San Daniele, one of the most famous raw hams in the world. The name itself denotes its origin: San Daniele in Friuli (North-East of Italy).
Prosciutto Crudo San Daniele is produced with traditional methods dating back to the Celts period.
It’s a completely natural food, free from additives and preservatives, made with sea salt and pork coming exclusively from 100% Italian organic meat.

San Daniele is a small town with a population of 8,000 individuals, located at the foothills of the Italian Alps. The natural and specific micro climate is crucial for the production of the prosciutto as the cold winds fall from the mountains mix with warm breezes from the sea and create constant ventilation and low humidity. You can think about it as a kind of “natural air -conditioning” that enhances the meat’s flavor.
Prosciutto Crudo dates back the Celtic period, when hunters needed a methodto . Its roots going back to 100BC, when a salt-cured ham was mentioned in the writings of Cato. Prosciutto San Daniele PDO is an uncooked aged ham. It is distinctively shaped like a guitar and the meat is reddish-pink in colour. It has a pronounced aroma, a sweet and delicate flavour and an unmistakable after-taste. The retention of the end-piece of the hog’s leg (the trotter) is another identifying characteristic.
Prosciutto Crudo as not only an excellent taste, but it can be ideal and suitable for any diet for athletes and infants thanks to its high nutritional value and easy digestibility.
The proteins of Prosciutto San Daniele are characterised by a high biological quality and are easily digestible. This is due to the maturation process, which breaks down the protein molecules, proteolysis, and encourages easier and faster assimilation by the body.
Another fundamental component for your body is the “good” fat, which no many know that is an important source of energy for your body. Infact those contained in San Daniele are largely monounsaturated fats, the “good” one, important to protect blood cholesterol levels. Most monounsaturated fats are rich in Vitamin E.
Also the minerals presence is fundamental, infact Prosciutto is rich in organic form of phosphorus, zinc and potassium ensures good bio-availability and a very high tolerably.

The manufacturing process:

1. Isolation and chilling

The fresh pig thighs considered suitable are then transferred to a special storeroom, where they remain in order to standardize the temperature conditions of the meat to around 32°  F (0° C) (this procedure enables better preparation of the meat for the subsequent operations.)

2. Trimming

This phase consists in the removal of fat parts and muscular portion on the inner side of the thigh.

3. Salting

The trimmed  thighs are sprinkled with salt "ad libitum", so that the exposed surface of the inner side is covered.

As a first step, the thighs are massaged manually to prepare the meat to receive the salt.
The salting process dosage period is based on the average weight of the batch being processed, being defined as one day for each kilogram of weight of the relevant size.
The salted thighs, constantly kept horizontal, are placed in a special storeroom, where they remain at high humidity conditions and at a temperature varying between 37.4° and 32° F (3° and 0° C).
Halfway through the set salting period the thighs are removed from the storeroom, and so-called "revision” is carried out, the residual salt is removed from the surface, the massage is repeated, and finally, further salt is sprinkled on.
The salted thigh is replaced in the storeroom and remains there until the process is complete, under the same environmental conditions.

4. Pressing

The thigh is removed from the storeroom and brushed to remove the residual salt.
In this state the thigh is subjected to pressing, a procedure comprising the application of a uniform pressure to the muscular mass, which is reduced in thickness and finally assumes a basically squashed guitar shape.
The force necessary for pressing is applied using mechanical or pneumatic devices, with a perpendicular action in relation to the thigh.

5. Resting

After pressing, the salted thighs are placed in a special room, for a period of between 60 and 90 days, depending on the size and the technological requirements, under humidity conditions varying between 70 and 80% and a temperature between 39.2° and 42.8 F° (4°C and 6°C).
During the course of the resting phase, the absorbed salt penetrates inside the meat, with gradual homogeneity, distributing itself uniformly. The function required for the continuation of the dehydration process, commenced with the treatment with the salt and the low temperatures, takes effect.


6. Washing

Once the "resting" phase is complete, the thigh is subjected to final "washing" by means of brushing or the application of jets of water (mixed with air) to the outer surface.

The washing removes all superficial formations produced during salting and resting as a result of dehydration, and tones the outer tissues. Before washing, the thighs are "groomed" and trimmed superficially to compensate for the effects of the weight loss that has occurred.

7. Drying

After washing, the thighs are transferred to environments where a further "recovery" of the meat takes place in higher humidity conditions and at temperatures varying between 59°  and 75.2 F°  (15° and 24° C), for a period of 7-8 days.

8. Maturation

After drying the hams or "prosciutti" are transferred to special maturation rooms. These environments have largely natural humidity and temperature conditions, thanks to the existence and frequent opening of the numerous windows with which they are equipped, positioned to have a transverse function in relation to the placement of the hams, which are thus continuously supplied with natural aeration.

Only the “Stuccatura” (smearing) takes place during maturation.  “Stuccatura” is made once or twice covering the surface of the exposed portion of prosciutto with paste of lard, salt, pepper, applied finely and uniformly.

The technical functions of this preparation and its application exclusively comprise softening the exposed external surface of the rind and, at the same time, protecting it from external agents, without compromising the continuation of the osmotic action.
During the course of maturation, biochemical and enzymatic processes take place in the meat, which complete the process of preservation induced by the preceding processes, determining the characteristic organoleptic properties.

The duration of the maturation is traditionally adapted to the unit average weight indicated by the batch, for the purposes of the Guidelines the minimum processing period falls in the 13 month after salting.

You can find Prosciutto Crudo San Daniele in the best delis all around the world.

Enjoy it!

Margherita Bisoglio