Prosciutto Toscano (Tuscan ham)

From Cookipedia

Prosciutto Toscano

DOP Prosciutto Toscano is a salted, naturally cured product, preserved uncooked. The finished product has a rounded shape, bowed at the top, and normally weighs about 8 - 9 kg. The colour when sliced is a light to bright red, with little infra- and intramuscular fat. It is made from fresh pig thighs from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the Regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Le Marche, Umbria, Latium and Tuscany and which meet production rule requirements.

GEOGRAPHICAL AREA: Prosciutto Toscano processing takes place in the traditional production area which includes the entire territory of the Region of Tuscany. The raw material comes from the area described above, which includes the areas traditionally specialized in pig-breeding.

EVIDENCE OF ORIGIN: The art of preserving pork in Tuscany became well-established in the Middle Ages, the period in which the guilds came into being, which were properly constituted bodies governed by their own Statutes. Laws regarding the slaughtering of pigs and the preservation of pig meat (nothing from the pig was thrown away) already existed by the time of Charlemagne. However, it was around the 15th century that the production of Prosciutto Toscano was regulated by provisions regarding the entire production process, from breeding up through distribution. At the present time, the production rules follow the lines of the already existing specific national regulations for the designation of origin prosciutti of Parma and San Daniele.

ACQUISITION: DOP Prosciutto Toscano production includes the following stages: isolation of the thighs and trimming to a bowed shape; dry salting; washing and drying; larding and aging.

LINK: The requirements for denomination of origin products depend on the environmental conditions and on natural and human factors. In particular, the unique character of the raw material is strictly tied to the defined geographic macrozone. In the area which supplies the raw material, the development of livestock-breeding is linked to the extensive cultivation of grains and to the processing of dairy products, which is particularly specialized, making the area very suitable for pig breeding.

The justification for the localized production of DOP Prosciutto Toscano lies in the particular conditions of the microzone defined above. The shape and geographic characteristics of Tuscany seem to be reminders of its ability to produce high quality prosciutti. The climate, which is very different from that of its neighbouring regions, is also particularly well-suited for optimal ageing of the product. A climate, therefore, which is ideal for favouring a profitable relationship between the typical products of the region and the environment, allowing them to ripen slowly and healthily: thus is the case with its wines, olive oil, cheeses and, not the least, prosciutto. The environmental factors are closely tied to the characteristics of the production area, where cool, wide valleys with abundant water and hilly wooded areas predominate, having a great influence on the climate and on the characteristics of the finished product. The set of "raw material - product - name" is linked to the specific socioeconomic development of this geographic area.

GASTRONOMY: DOP Prosciutto Toscano should be kept in a cool, dry and well-ventilated place, preferably in a cellar, and should be covered with cling film or aluminium foil after cutting. DOP Prosciutto Toscano can be eaten on its own or served with unsalted Tuscan bread; it is also an ideal ingredient for the preparation of delicious dishes such as “Tuscan Rose Salad”, which is a mix of radicchio and whipped ricotta cheese with aromatic herbs.

Reference: The European Commission