Welcome! As a prosciutto lover, I totally understand when people ask themselves these questions: Is prosciutto raw? How is prosciutto made? Is it safe to eat it raw?
Believe me, there are no stupid questions and Google knows that, too. Worry not, I won’t waste much of your time on these introductory sentences. In the next paragraphs, I’ll be as straightforward as my personality allows it.
A Few Words About Prosciutto
In this section, I’ll just briefly summarize the most important facts about prosciutto:
• Made from: Prosciutto is made from high-quality pig’s hind legs.
• Two types of prosciutto: Prosciutto cotto (cooked) and prosciutto crudo (cured).
• Taste: Prosciutto is delicate, flavorful, slightly sweet, and salty.
• Color: Prosciutto has a pink to brownish-red color.
• Serving: Paper-thin slices of prosciutto are best served with cheese, wine, or in pasta and pizza dishes. It also pairs well with different fruits and vegetables. Prosciutto can be served as an appetizer, in a sandwich, or as the main course.
• Name origin: Prosciutto is an Italian word meaning “ham”.
• Origin: Prosciutto was invented during pre-Roman times in Italy when the villagers started to dry the pork legs to extend their shelf life. One of the most famous types of prosciutto is Prosciutto di Parma. I must admit that Prosciutto di Parma’s history is quite intriguing.
Debunking The Myth: Is Prosciutto Raw?
There are two types of prosciutto (cooked and cured). Obviously, neither of these two types is raw even though many people think that cured prosciutto is raw just because it looks like it is.
Cooked prosciutto (prosciutto cotto) is slowly cooked and then seasoned with herbs and spices.
Cured prosciutto (prosciutto crudo) is dry-cured (I’ll explain the process of dry-curing below).
How Is Cured Prosciutto Made?
From salting to final curing, here are all the stages of making prosciutto crudo (cured prosciutto):
Stage 1: Salting
Traditional prosciuttos are salted with sea salt which results in less salty flavor than if you were to use other types of salt. After salting, the pig’s hind leg is placed in the fridge for approximately a week. The second layer of salt is added and left on the pig’s leg for 15-18 days.
Stage 2: Resting
Next is the resting period where the pig’s leg is hung for 2 to 3 months in refrigerated rooms where the humidity is controlled as well.
Stage 3: Washing
After 2 to 3 months of hanging, the pig’s leg is washed with warm water. It is also brushed so that the pollutants and excess salt is removed from it. After that, the pig’s leg is hung in drying rooms for a couple of days.
Stage 4: First curing
In this phase, the pig’s leg is hung in a room that is airy and has large windows. These windows are opened when the temperature and humidity from the outside match the desired conditions needed for the pig’s leg to dry. This initial curing phase lasts about 3 months.
Stage 5: Adding lard layers
The mixture of lard, pepper, and salt is added to the pig’s leg to soften it and prevent it from drying too quickly. The drying should be gradual.
Stage 6: Final curing
Finally, the pig’s leg is moved to rooms that are less airy and don’t have much light where they hang until they’re cured completely. The entire process of curing prosciutto (starting from the initial salting) can last from 13 months to 3 years.
Is It Safe To Eat Prosciutto “Raw”?
If you’re eating cured prosciutto, you aren’t actually eating raw prosciutto. The hind legs of pigs are covered in salt to rest for a couple of weeks.
Now, what does salt do to the meat? It draws out moisture and blood from it which blocks bacteria from penetrating the meat.
Can You Cook Prosciutto?
- ½ tbsp oil (use for cooking on a stovetop)
- 8 slices prosciutto crudo (cured)
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place prosciutto crudo slices on a baking sheet (use parchment paper). Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes until they become crispy and brown.
On the stovetop:
Step 1: Pour the oil into a non-stick pan and heat it over medium heat. Then place the prosciutto crudo slices in it. After a few minutes, turn them over and cook until both sides have become brownish in color.
Prosciutto will become more crispy when it cools.
When In Doubt, Just Put Prosciutto On It!
One of the main reasons why prosciutto is one of my fav foods that start with P is that you can eat it with almost anything. From figs and pears to pizza, peas, and carrots, prosciutto brings out the best of each food and leaves your taste buds surprised every single time.
So, when in doubt, just put prosciutto on it and let it do its magic!