The Real Stuff: Prosciutto di Parma

Ham is an important Italian ingredient, but not just any ham. Look for Prosciutto di Parma, an Italian ham that’s highly prized for its sweet and salty flavor. It’s been made in the traditional way for centuries, using the same four ingredients: pigs, salt, air and time—no preservatives or additives.

The Real Deal

By law, Prosciutto di Parma (also known as Parma ham) can only be produced in the province of Parma using Italian pigs. Its flavor comes from the more than year-long process of salting and drying the rear haunches of the animal.

An inspector tests the hams at the end of curing to make sure they’re of high enough quality to be labeled Prosciutto di Parma. The ones that pass are branded with the official 5-point ducal crown. Look for that mark to be sure you’re getting an authentic Parma Ham.

Thick and Thin

Prosciutto provides an appealing flavor hit when added to soups, salads and pizzas or wrapped around fish or meat. You can find it already packaged in paper-thin slices (about 1/16 of an inch thick) or have the deli clerk slice it to fit your needs (such as thicker slices for dicing and using in recipes).

Well-wrapped thin slices will last about 2 days in the refrigerator, thicker slices slightly longer. Avoid freezing the ham, which can affect its texture and flavor.

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