Prosciutto di Parma

The production of genuine Parma Ham is the story of a special relationship between man and nature.

Since Roman times, the unique conditions of the Parma region have made it possible to produce the highest quality hams that have been appreciated by gourmets for centuries. ‘Prosciutto’ is from the Latin ‘perexsuctum’ meaning ‘dried’ – an indication of the purity of Parma Ham production and its ancient roots.
It was in 100 BC that Cato the “Censor” first mentioned the extraordinary flavour of the air cured ham made around the town of Parma in Italy; the legs were left to dry, greased with a little oil and could age without spoiling. A tasty meat was obtained which could be eaten over a period of time while maintaining its pleasant flavour. Even earlier, in 5BC, in the Etruscan Po river valley, salted preserved pork legs were traded with the rest of Italy and with Greece.
The similarity between present-day Parma Ham and its “ancestor” is evident and nowadays the tradition of Parma Ham is as strong as ever.

How it is made

Making a Parma Ham is a long and painstaking process; all producers of Prosciutto di Parma share one goal: To cure a leg of pork with pure sea salt in order to keep the meat as sweet-tasting and as supple as possible.

The hams are made from the rear haunches of the pig; The curing is controlled carefully so that the ham absorbs only enough salt to preserve it. By the end, a trimmed ham will have lost more than a quarter of its weight through moisture loss, helping to concentrate the flavour. The meat becomes tender and the distinctive aroma and flavour of Parma Ham emerge.

Nutritional information

Nowadays we talk increasingly about eating well referring not just to good and tasty foods but to healthy foods as well, for a lifestyle based on a correct and balanced diet. Thanks to its nutritional values, Parma Ham is an excellent food for children, sportsmen and sportswomen, elderly people and anyone who has problems digesting proteins.
The distinctive characteristic of Parma Ham lies in its high protein content; moreover, the richness in free amino acids, which depends on the curing processes, gives this food a very high overall digestibility.

With reference to lipids, the fraction of unsaturated fats is considerably higher (64.9%) than that of saturated fats (35.1%), with a high presence in the form of oleic acid (45.8%). This ensures that saturated lipids and cholesterol are present in extremely small amounts in the fat of Parma Ham.
Their high presence of vitamins in Parma Ham (in particular, for vitamins B1, B6, B12 and PP) enables very high proportions of the recommended daily amount to be achieved; same can be said for mineral salts – phosphorus, zinc, iron and selenium – which are present in very significant amounts in Parma Ham.
Another element of great importance is the absence in Parma Ham of colouring agents or preservatives, such as for example nitrites and nitrates, commonly used in the preparation of other meat based products. The only ingredients allowed by the Production Specifications are in fact pork and salt.

Macronutrient composition expressed in grams (g) and energy value on 100 g of Parma Ham

Parma Ham *

  • Water: 50.3%
  • Proteins: 25.9%
  • Lipids: 18.3%
  • Carbohydrates: 0.3%
Energy value: 269 Kcal/ 1127 Kj

* Parma Ham “as is” (lean + fat)

Parma Ham with fat removed **

  • Water: 58.1%
  • Proteins: 29.1%
  • Lipids: 6.4%
  • Carbohydrates: 0.4%
Energy value: 176 Kcal/ 734 Kj

** Parma Ham with outer fat removed


The name ‘Parma Ham’ is exclusively reserved for hams bearing the Ducal Crown, the indelible and unique brand given at the end of the ageing period. The final branding, however, is only the last step of a long identification process.

Every stage of the rigorous quality control plan can be tested and proven. This is what is meant by traceability. The entire history of each leg of Parma Ham is visible through, seals, brands and tattoos marked on its skin.

It begins with the breeder who puts a special tattoo on both legs of the young pig within 30 days of birth. This shows the breeder’s identification code and a code indicating the month of the animal’s birth

It continues with the slaughterhouse where every fresh trimmed leg is checked and branded with a mark permanently identifying it. The mark has the initials “PP” and the slaughterhouse identification.

Next there is the metal seal made up of a circular crown showing the C.P.P. (Consorzio Prosciutto di Parma) initials and the date curing began.

Finally, the five-point Ducal Crown brand is stamped under the strict control of the CSQA inspectors and is the final guarantee of the quality of the ham.

The Ducal Crown also shows the identification code of the producer and is the final guarantee of the quality of the ham.

Protected Designation of Origin

PDO (short for Protected Designation of Origin) is a European Community certification system designed to protect names and traditions of high-quality European foods made according to traditional methods in a defined geographic region.

The name Parma Ham for instance is exclusively reserved to hams produced in Parma according to the strict rules defined by the Consorzio’s specifications, which are based on the ancient tradition of its place of origin; in 1996 Parma Ham became one of the first meat products to be awarded the Designation of Protected Origin status.
In addition to providing legally binding name protection for these products, the PDO system helps consumers, retailers, chefs, distributors and culinary professionals distinguish between authentic products and their many imitations.

How to taste

With its full-bodied flavour and silky texture, Parma Ham is a world-class specialty food. Favoured by discriminating chefs, this ham from the heartland of Italy enhances appetizers, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches and entrées.

Most often, paper-thin slices of Parma Ham should be served at room temperature. There is no need to remove the band of fat around each slice, which helps give the ham its balance of flavour and texture.

For a classic antipasto, arrange three to four slices of Parma Ham on a plate, accompanied simply by Italian cheeses and bread.

Drape Parma Ham slices around fresh figs or melon slices. Or try other fruits with complementary flavors, such as ripe pears, papaya, pineapple and kiwis. To create an elegant salad, top mixed greens with slivers of Parma Ham and curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Make an Italian-style panino by layering slices of Parma Ham on a crusty roll with fresh or smoked mozzarella, tomato slices and a sprinkling of olive oil. Wrap Parma Ham slices around bread sticks, lightly cooked asparagus spears or grilled shrimp. Dice or chop thick-sliced of Parma Ham to flavour pastas, rice or risotto, or vegetables such as asparagus or peas.

Sauté finely diced Parma Ham with onions, carrots, celery and herbs to make a soffritto, or flavor base, for sauces and many other dishes. Parma Ham also makes a wonderful cooking ingredient so don’t be afraid to experiment. It adds personality to pasta and imparts a delicious flavour when wrapped around fish or chicken and cooked in the oven. It is excellent enjoyed with white wines!

Pre sliced product

Like every production stage, the pre-slicing and packaging of Parma Ham can only be carried out in the Parma region under the watchful eyes of the external inspectors and so guaranteeing slice after slice of authentic, quality product. This consumer guarantee is symbolised by the Ducal Crown logo which can be found in the black triangle on the front of all packets of genuine Parma Ham.

The Parma Ham Consortium works hard to ensure that this convenient product delivers the same taste experience as freshly sliced Parma Ham and guarantees that also when pre-sliced and packed, Parma Ham is 100% natural!

Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma
Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma - Largo Calamandrei, 1/A - 43100 Parma - Italy - Phone: 0521.246211 - Fax 0521 243983
© 2024 C.C.I.A.A. DI PARMA NUM. ISCRIZ. REG. IMPRESE, P.IVA e C.F. 00252820345 - REA: PR-91486. Tutti i diritti riservati.