Parma Ham is produced with the thigh of a "mature pig”: "maturity" refers to a type of meat with reduced quantity of water, which allows the use of limited amounts of salt. Its sweetness is not the only feature that distinguishes this meat: the pink color of the lean, low in cholesterol and its high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids are some of the main features provided by the genetics and by how the pig is fed from which Prosciutto di Parma is born. Natural antioxidants factors, such as Vitamin F, protect fats from the risks to go rancid. Parma Ham is easily recognizable by its heavy weight (more than nine kilograms) for the lack of the knuckle at the end of the thigh and for the Official Mark of the Production, affixed to the shaved rind after the official checking. The production area includes the middle and upper Val d'Enza, the middle and upper Val Parma, Val Bardea, Val Parmossa and, finally, the middle Val Baganza.
PREPARATION AND AGING
The pork used for Parma ham is fed with high-quality plant foods: turkish wheat, barley, bran and often with whey. The production technique is exclusively based on three elements: salt, environmental conditions and aging time. Parma ham is aged in specialized plants on the hills in the province of Parma, continually subjected to a series of controls that are necessary to ensure a perfect ripening. The duration of the seasoning ranges from a minimum of twelve months to eighteen months (or more) to have a "sublime ham." When the product is long seasoned, it is possible to find small white spots on the slices, due to precipitation of amino acids, a consequence of proteolysis. Parma ham is raw: that means it’s not treated with heat and this allows the consumer to use all of its valuable nutritional characteristics and, at the same time, its low-calorie diet: in the muscle is, in fact, less than 5% of fat. The limited amount of salt also makes this food ideal for the elderly or people suffering from high blood pressure.
HOW IT IS SERVED
The best way to taste the flavor and sweetness of Parma Ham is eating it with a good slice of not too salty bread. This does not exclude the use associated with cheese or truffles - after a brief cooking - like culinary creations of recent invention indicate. The ideal wines to accompany the tasting of this meat should be soft: dry white wine or a light Lambrusco.