What is Prosciutto? Unwrapping the Mystery

what is prosciutto
12 min reading time

Prosciutto is a much-loved Italian delicacy that has been enjoyed for centuries. This thinly sliced, cured meat has a unique flavor and texture that sets it apart from other cured meats like ham. But what is prosciutto?

Prosciutto is a type of dry-cured ham that originates from Italy. The name “prosciutto” comes from the Latin word “perexsuctum,” which means “dried” or “deprived of all liquid.” True to its name, prosciutto is made by curing ham with salt and then air-drying it for several months or even years. This lengthy process gives prosciutto its distinctive texture and flavor, which is both salty and slightly sweet.

In Italy, prosciutto is a culinary staple, often served as a delicacy at special occasions, and used as a flavorful ingredient in many dishes. But with its growing popularity around the world, prosciutto has become a beloved addition to charcuterie boards, salads, pasta, and sandwiches.

Core Findings:

  • Prosciutto is a type of dry-cured ham that originates from Italy.
  • It is made by curing ham with salt and then air-drying it for several months or even years.
  • Prosciutto has a distinctive texture and flavor that is both salty and slightly sweet.
  • It is a staple in Italian cuisine and is used in many dishes around the world.
  • Prosciutto is a delicious and versatile meat that can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient.

The Difference Between Prosciutto and Ham

Prosciutto and ham are two popular cured meats, but they are not the same. While both are made from pork, the preparation process and flavor profiles differ significantly.

Ham comes from the pig’s hind leg and is typically cooked or smoked. It can be served hot or cold and has a salty, smoky flavor. Prosciutto, on the other hand, comes from the pig’s hind leg or thigh and is air-cured for months. The process involves rubbing salt and other seasonings onto the meat, then allowing it to hang and dry in a temperature-controlled environment. This results in a meat that is tender, delicate, and slightly sweet in flavor.

Another significant difference between prosciutto and ham is their texture. Prosciutto is thinly sliced and has a melt-in-your-mouth consistency, while ham is typically firmer and more chewy.

When it comes to using these meats, they can be interchangeable in certain dishes, but it’s important to note that the flavor and texture will differ. Prosciutto is often used in sandwiches, antipasti boards, and as a topping for pizza and pasta dishes. Ham, on the other hand, is commonly used in sandwiches, breakfast dishes, and as a main course for holiday meals.

Types of Prosciutto

Prosciutto comes in various types, each with its own unique qualities. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most renowned varieties:

Type of ProsciuttoOriginFlavor Profile
Prosciutto di ParmaParma, ItalySubtle, sweet, nutty
Prosciutto di San DanieleSan Daniele del Friuli, ItalyDelicate, slightly fruity
Prosciutto CrudoItalyRich, buttery, savory
Prosciutto CottoItalyMild, ham-like flavor

In addition to these well-known varieties, there are also regional variations of prosciutto produced throughout Italy, each with its own distinct flavors and characteristics.

Prosciutto di Parma

Perhaps the most famous variety of prosciutto is Prosciutto di Parma. This type of prosciutto is made exclusively in the Parma region of Italy and is renowned for its exceptional quality and flavor. The production process of Prosciutto di Parma is highly regulated, with strict standards in place to ensure its authenticity. The pigs used for Prosciutto di Parma are fed a specific diet consisting of mainly whey and cereals, and the curing process requires a minimum of 12 months.

Other Varieties

Prosciutto di San Daniele, another popular variety, is made in the San Daniele del Friuli area of Italy. Prosciutto Crudo is a raw and aged ham that is known for its rich, buttery flavor. Prosciutto Cotto, on the other hand, is a cooked ham that is milder in flavor and often used in sandwiches and other dishes.

When it comes to choosing a type of prosciutto, it really comes down to personal preference. Whether you prefer a delicate, fruity flavor or a rich, savory taste, there is sure to be a type of prosciutto that will delight your taste buds.

The Preparation Process of Prosciutto

what is prosciutto

Prosciutto is a cured meat that undergoes a meticulous preparation process. To start, the meat is trimmed and cleaned, removing any excess fat and skin. Next, the prosciutto is salted and left to rest for several weeks. This draws out any excess water and preserves the meat.

After salting, the prosciutto is washed and left to air dry. This is a crucial step, as it allows the prosciutto to develop its distinct flavor and aroma. The length of the drying process can range from a few months to several years, depending on the type of prosciutto.

Type of ProsciuttoDrying Time
Prosciutto di Parma11-13 months
Prosciutto Crudo2-3 months
Prosciutto CottoCooked, not air-dried

Once fully dried, the prosciutto is ready to be sliced and enjoyed. It is traditionally sliced paper-thin and served as a standalone delicacy or incorporated into various dishes.

Tips on How to Use Prosciutto

  • Wrap around melon or figs for a sweet and savory appetizer.
  • Add to pizzas or flatbreads for an elevated twist on classic toppings.
  • Incorporate into pasta dishes, like carbonara or linguine, for added depth of flavor.
  • Use as a topping for salads or bruschetta for a touch of indulgence.

Exploring the Flavors of Prosciutto

Prosciutto offers a range of flavors, from delicate and buttery to rich and savory. The varying tastes and textures make it a versatile ingredient in the culinary world. Here are some prosciutto recipes that showcase its unique flavors:

Prosciutto-Wrapped MelonA refreshing appetizer that balances the sweetness of ripe melons with the salty and savory flavor of prosciutto.
Prosciutto and Arugula PizzaA classic pizza topped with peppery arugula, thinly sliced prosciutto, and creamy mozzarella cheese.
Prosciutto-Wrapped AsparagusA simple yet elegant dish that pairs perfectly cooked asparagus with salty prosciutto.
Prosciutto Pasta SaladA light and refreshing summer salad that combines cooked pasta, fresh vegetables, and thinly sliced prosciutto.

Whether used as a standalone ingredient or to add depth to a dish, prosciutto is a flavorful addition to any recipe. Try experimenting with different combinations to discover your own favorite prosciutto recipes.

Prosciutto Pronunciation Made Easy

Prosciutto is a mouthwatering Italian delicacy that has taken the culinary world by storm. It’s no wonder that more and more people are curious about prosciutto pronunciation. If you’ve ever worried about mispronouncing this flavorful meat, fear not! With a little guidance, you’ll be speaking like a pro in no time.

Firstly, it’s essential to know that prosciutto is pronounced proh-shoo-toh, with the emphasis on the first syllable. The “sci” and “tto” sounds are both pronounced like “shoo.”

“I love prosciutto so much that I make sure to pronounce it correctly every time I order it!” – John, prosciutto enthusiast

Another common mistake people make when pronouncing prosciutto is adding an “r” sound at the end. It’s essential to remember that there is no “r” sound in the correct pronunciation.

If you’re still finding it difficult to get the pronunciation right, try breaking it down into smaller syllables and practicing each one individually. You’ll soon be able to say it smoothly and confidently!

Prosciutto Pronunciation Tip: Keep in mind that the “tto” ending is similar to how you would say “Taco” in English.

Prosciutto di Parma: The King of Prosciutto

When it comes to prosciutto, there is no denying that Prosciutto di Parma is the most renowned variety. This Italian cured ham is known for its exceptional quality and distinctive flavor profile.

Made only in the Emilia-Romagna region, Prosciutto di Parma is crafted using traditional techniques that have been passed down for centuries. The process begins with a carefully selected pig that is raised on a specific diet and in a specific environment to ensure the highest quality meat.

Once the pig is slaughtered, the meat is trimmed and cleaned before being salted and left to rest. The salt is then removed, and the meat is aged in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment for at least 12 months.

During the aging process, the prosciutto develops a delicate, nutty flavor and a buttery texture that melts in your mouth. The result is a ham that is rich, savory, and incredibly satisfying.

To ensure the authenticity of Prosciutto di Parma, each ham is stamped with a distinctive mark that signifies it was produced according to strict regulations. These regulations include the use of specific breeds of pigs, a specific diet for the animals, and a specific aging process.

The Characteristics of Prosciutto di Parma

Prosciutto di Parma is a true delicacy that can be enjoyed on its own or used to elevate a wide range of dishes. Here are some of the unique characteristics that make it the king of prosciutto:

Aging ProcessProsciutto di Parma is aged for at least 12 months, resulting in a rich and nutty flavor.
ColorThe meat is a deep pink color, with a thin layer of fat that adds to the flavor and texture.
TextureThe texture of Prosciutto di Parma is buttery and tender, with a melt-in-your-mouth quality.
FlavorThe flavor is savory and nutty, with a subtle sweetness that lingers on the palate.

If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Italy, Prosciutto di Parma is a must-try. Whether enjoyed on its own, wrapped around melon, or added to pasta and salads, this delicious cured ham will transport you straight to the heart of Emilia-Romagna.

The Versatility of Prosciutto

Prosciutto is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways to add depth of flavor and texture to dishes. Here are some creative ways to use prosciutto in your cooking:

In Savory Dishes:

  • Wrap prosciutto around asparagus, chicken, or shrimp before grilling or roasting for an extra burst of flavor
  • Top homemade pizzas with thinly sliced prosciutto for a delicious, salty kick
  • Add chopped prosciutto to omelets or frittatas for a protein-packed breakfast
  • Stir finely sliced prosciutto into risotto or pasta dishes for an added savory richness

In Sweet Dishes:

Prosciutto may seem like an unusual ingredient in sweet dishes, but it can add a delightful balance of saltiness and sweetness:

  • Wrap slices of prosciutto around fresh figs or melon for a simple yet elegant appetizer or dessert
  • Top buttery crostini with ricotta cheese, thinly sliced prosciutto, and a drizzle of honey for a sweet and savory snack
  • Serve prosciutto alongside a cheese board with nuts and dried fruit for a delicious contrast of flavors and textures

With its unique flavor and versatility, prosciutto is a must-try ingredient in any kitchen. So, experiment with different recipes and have fun incorporating prosciutto into your cooking!


We hope this article has provided you with a better understanding of the world of prosciutto. From its definition and preparation process to its versatile uses and unique flavors, prosciutto is truly a culinary delight that is worth experiencing. If you haven’t tried prosciutto yet, we highly recommend giving it a try. Start by trying out some of the recipes we’ve suggested or simply enjoy it on its own with a glass of wine.


What is the difference between prosciutto and ham?

Prosciutto and ham are both cured meats, but they differ in their preparation and flavor. Prosciutto is air-dried and aged, resulting in a more delicate texture and subtle taste. Ham, on the other hand, is typically cured with brine or smoke and has a stronger flavor.

What are the types of prosciutto?

There are various types of prosciutto available, including Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto San Daniele, and Prosciutto di Modena. Each type has its unique characteristics, influenced by factors such as the pig’s diet, the curing process, and the region where it is produced.

How is prosciutto prepared?

Prosciutto is prepared through a meticulous process that involves salting, air-drying, and aging the pork leg. The leg is first salted to draw out moisture, then hung to dry for several months. The length of aging can range from a few months to several years, resulting in different flavors and textures.

What flavors does prosciutto have?

Prosciutto offers a range of flavors, from nutty and sweet to savory and slightly tangy. The taste can vary depending on the specific type of prosciutto and its aging process. It pairs well with other ingredients, such as fruits, cheeses, and bread, enhancing their flavors.

How do you pronounce “prosciutto”?

The correct pronunciation of “prosciutto” is “pro-shoo-toe.” The emphasis is on the first syllable, and the “o” is pronounced like the “o” in “got.”

What is Prosciutto di Parma?

Prosciutto di Parma is a specific type of prosciutto that is produced in the Parma region of Italy. It is known for its exceptional quality and strict production standards. Prosciutto di Parma is aged for a minimum of 12 months and has a delicate, slightly sweet flavor.

How can prosciutto be used in recipes?

Prosciutto is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. It can be wrapped around melon or asparagus, added to sandwiches, salads, or pasta, or even used as a topping for pizzas and bruschetta. Its salty, savory flavor adds depth to any recipe.

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