Prosciutto Toscano has a long-standing tradition that can be traced to the time of the Medici. As a matter of fact, around the 15th century the production of Prosciutto Toscano is regulated with provisions that concern the entire production process. The unique features of Prosciutto Toscano are the outcome of the climate of this land and the traditional production technique. The temperate winds of Tuscany that blow from both the hinterland and the sea make this region highly suitable for seasoning ham. The land is protected from the north wind by the Apennine chain. These specific environmental conditions, which clearly differ from those typical of the Po valley, and the masterly expertise of local producers, who have always artfully enhanced the flavour of pork meat by resorting to ancient traditional procedures, have determined the success, in Tuscany, of a typical production method that yields hams endowed with unique special features and an unmistakeable flavour.
• Shape: round arch shaped at the top for the presence of a meaty frame that must never project for more than 8 cm beyond the femoral head.
• External appearance: absence of the hoof; presence of black pepper that coats the internal part of the thigh deprived of the rind (crown).
The crown is V-shaped with the tip at the start of the stem.
• Weight: usually in the range of 8-9.5 kg and, however, never below 7.5 kg.
• Appearance when cut: bright red to pale red flesh with scarce presence of intra and ultramuscular fat; subcutaneous, pure white fat with light pink veins, firm, free of detachment lines between the layers and adhering well to the underlying muscle surface.
• Flavour: bold with the right degree of saltiness.
• Fragrance: intense and typical due to both the use, during the salting phase, of spices, herbs and aromatic spices (pepper, garlic, laurel, rosemary, juniper berries, etc.), and to the traditional production and seasoning methods.
To guarantee the consumer, Prosciutto Toscano PDO presents several identification factors, among which a fire brand with the words ‘PROSCIUTTO TOSCANO DOP’ overlaps the stylised image of the Tuscan region with four stars positioned to form an arch in the top right.
Key nutritional facts
Besides being characterised by its unmistakeable flavour, Prosciutto Toscano PDO is a protein rich food that the long seasoning phase makes it easy to digest.
The raw material includes pigs that are born, bred, fattened and slaughtered in the regions of Central and North Italy. The animals are bred according to strict production rules to obtain very high quality meat. In ham factories based only in Tuscany, fresh thighs are subjected to dry- salting that makes use, besides salt, also of pepper, garlic, laurel, rosemary, juniper berries and other spices typical of the Tuscan land. The use of these herbs and aromatic plants plays a decisive role in characterising the unmistakeable flavour and fragrance of Prosciutto Toscano PDO. Salting is followed by pre-salting for a period of about 4-5 months during which the ham is progressively dehydrated. This process also entails slow and gradual maturation of the meat. Actual seasoning starts at the end of this phase, when hams maintained in environments that present excellent temperature and humidity conditions, mature slowly, developing all those particular fragrances and flavours that distinguish Prosciutto Toscano PDO. The minimum seasoning period, considered as the interval between the beginning of salting and the release of the product for consumption, is 10 months for hams with final weight between 7.5 and 8.5 kg, and 12 months for hams with final weight in excess of 8.5 kg.