Parma Ham vs Prosciutto – The #1 Important Difference

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The names “Parma ham” and “prosciutto,” which both refer to thin slices of cured hog flesh prepared in an Italian manner, are often used interchangeably. However, do both of these phrases genuinely indicate the same thing? Is there a distinction between Parma ham and prosciutto, and if so, what is it?

Parma Ham vs Prosciutto – What is The Difference?

Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham in its most general sense; however, when used in its more common sense, the term refers to thinly sliced, uncooked and unsmoked dry-cured prosciutto crudo and other hams prepared in a manner that is similar. Parma ham is a particular kind of prosciutto crudo that originates in the Italian province of Emilia-Romagna or the city of Parma.

The Difference Between Parma Ham and Prosciutto

Because the terms Parma ham and prosciutto are used in a manner that is very comparable to one another, it is not difficult to deduce that they are both referring to the same thing. That is not entirely inaccurate, but there are some significant differences between them that are important to be aware of.

The word “prosciutto” is typically reserved for referring to very thin slices of raw, cured pork that originate in Italy.

What sets it apart from Parma ham is its flavor.

Specific vs Generic Term

The phrase “Parma ham” refers to a particular kind of ham that is dry-cured and originates from the Parma area in Italy. Prosciutto is a more broad name referring to prosciutto prepared in any place.

Parma ham and prosciutto are both terms that refer to the same product; but, in order for anything to be termed Parma ham, it must either be produced in the area of Parma or have originated there.

It is not possible to label anything “Parma ham” if the prosciutto in question originated in another location or was prepared in a separate locality.

To put it more simply, prosciutto can be applied to any and all Parma hams, while Parma ham cannot be applied to all prosciutto.

Protected Designation of Origin Status of Product

Parma ham is a particular variety of prosciutto crudo that hails from the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy and holds a Protected Designation of Origin designation. Not all prosciutto crudo has this designation.

Curing Ingredients

It is possible to cure prosciutto crudo using a wide range of seasonings, some of which may contain nitrates or nitrites, which are often used to enhance the red color of cured meats.

Parma ham, on the other hand, solely utilizes salt from the sea. Other than Italian pork and salt, it is not allowed to include any artificial preservatives or any other additional components.

What is Prosciutto?

Ham is what is meant when one refers to something as “prosciutto” in Italian. It may pertain to either prosciutto crudo or prosciutto cotto. The differences between the two will be discussed further down.

Prosciutto Crudo

Prosciutto, in general use, mainly applies to prosciutto crudo. Ham that has been dry-cured and aged without being smoked is referred to as prosciutto crudo.

Typically, it is served as an antipasto, accompanied with thinly sliced fruits and vegetables such as melons and figs or vegetables such as asparagus. Additionally, it may be wrapped around breadsticks.

How is Prosciutto Crudo Made?

The method of manufacturing prosciutto crudo involves a period of curing and drying that might last for many years. This procedure takes place in an atmosphere that is strictly regulated.

Prosciutto is especially produced from the back legs or thighs of the pig. The hind legs are first washed and then salted to drain out the moisture and leftover blood from the flesh. It is pushed gently and gradually over the course of many weeks as part of this procedure, which is done so that the liquid can drain effectively.

Following this step, the pig legs are washed many times in order to eliminate the salt as well as any other contaminants. It is then seasoned again, often according to secret family recipes that have been handed down for generations, and then hung and allowed to dry and age in a dark setting with regulated temperatures for up to 36 months.

The precise amount of time required is not only determined by the manufacturer but also by the climate of the area. In order to get optimal outcomes, a cold environment is often necessary.

Sometimes, prosciutto crudo may be salted and cured with nitrites to create the required color and taste, however some varieties of prosciutto like Prosciutto di Parma or Parma ham, are merely seasoned with pure sea salt.

Prosciutto Crudo’s peculiar taste and texture are attributable to the interaction of salt and air with the meat, and the chemical reactions that take place over time. These three ingredients are what give prosciutto crudo its attractive taste.

Prosciutto Cotto

Ham that has been brined, seasoned, and then cooked is referred to as prosciutto cotto. It is not as well known as its dry-cured sibling, but it is said that when sourced properly and produced to a high quality, it can compete favorably with its more well-known sibling.

Prosciutto crudo has a more robust flavor than this, but it is brilliant pink in color and has a more delicate taste.

How Is Prosciutto Cotto Made?

A brine that is composed of different herbs, spices, and seasonings is infused into the pork flesh after it has been deboned and trimmed of fat from the pig’s legs.

This brine is rubbed into the meat to ensure that it is distributed evenly throughout. After that, it is cooked at a low temperature with the skin still on so that the moisture is preserved. Additionally, it is chopped into tiny pieces before being served. In general, Prosciutto Cotto has far less salt than ham from the United States.

What is Parma Ham?

Prosciutto di Parma is a type of prosciutto crudo that is produced in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Parma ham is also known as jamon di Parma.

Parma ham is a type of prosciutto that has the PDO status, which stands for Protected Designation of Origin. This means that Parma ham can only come from this region, and it can only be produced from pigs that were bred in this area, and it can only be made in a way that is specific to this region.

The topography of the area is a contributor to the one-of-a-kind flavor and high quality of the product, both of which are difficult to replicate in other locations.

One of the most highly prized kinds of prosciutto, Parma ham is characterized by a texture that is silky and almost creamy, a flavor profile that is irresistibly salty and savory, and a hint of sweetness.

How is Parma Ham Made?

Parma ham is produced in a manner that is highly particular, and in order for it to be granted the title of “Parma ham,” it must first get the seal of approval from the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, which requires that it fulfill certain requirements.

However, this does not imply that the flavor of every kind of Parma ham is same. Different flavor profiles may be produced by using a variety of pig breeds and by aging the meat for varying amounts of time.

Parma ham is traditionally produced using just these four components: pigs that were born and raised in Italy, sea salt, air, and time. After having a taste of these wonderful strips of cured meat goodness, you would say that the painstaking process that goes into making it is surely worth the trouble. The process is lengthy, and after having a taste of these wonderful strips of cured meat goodness, you would say that the process is certainly worth the trouble.

Process of Making Parma Ham

1. The Pork Legs Arrive

Pigs are carefully watched and cared for from the moment they are born, and a healthy diet is provided for them to ensure that they remain healthy throughout their lives. Pigs that are utilized to make Parma ham had to have been born and raised in Italy.

The pork legs that are used in the production of Prosciutto di Parma come from farms that have been granted authorization and weigh approximately 33 pounds on average each.

This occurs around once every week on average.

2. Salting the Legs

The meat is salted with sea salt by a maestro salatore, who is an extremely well-trained expert and master of the salting process. After that, it is stored in a refrigerator for approximately one week at temperatures ranging from 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (33 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit). After this, it is salted once more, and then allowed to absorb the salt for an additional 15–18 days.

In contrast to the production of other kinds of cured meat and prosciutto, this method does not involve the use of nitrates and nitrites. Only salt from the sea is permitted to be used in the curing process of Prosciutto di Parma.

3. Pork legs Are Allowed to Rest

After being hung in rooms with the temperature and humidity carefully regulated for a length of time ranging from two to three months, the pig legs are then permitted to rest.

4. Ham Is Washed And Dried

After that, the pig legs are cleaned to get rid of any remaining salt and any other impurities, and then they are hung out to dry for a few days. After they have been allowed to dry, they are hung on frames in a space that has enough ventilation.

It is very uncommon for the wide windows in these rooms to be opened in order to let fresh air in, particularly when the weather conditions on the outside are good. It is essential to pay attention to the levels of humidity in the air.

Because this step permits the ham to progressively dry out, most industry professionals agree that it is at this stage that the ham’s taste comes into its own; as a result, this step is an essential component of the process. This time frame typically lasts for roughly three months.

5. Pork legs Are Greased and Covered in Lard

When the drying process of the ham is complete after three months, the outermost layer of the ham will have become dry and tough. The next thing that has to be done is smearing the outside skin of the ham with a combination of salt and lard. This is done so that the exterior of the ham does not dry out too quickly.

6. Final Stage of Curing

After that, the hams are moved to a room or basement that has less air and light than the previous location. They are let to hang until the final drying process is finished, at which point they are removed from the racks. The ham continues to improve in both taste and texture over this time span.

7. Quality Check and Branding

After the first salting, Parma ham must be aged and cured for a least of one year, and some producers let it mature for as long as three years. This is a legal requirement.

After this amount of time has passed, the ham will have its quality evaluated by specialists. The procedure of creating Parma ham involves inserting a needle into five distinct spots on each leg of ham. Based on the aroma that is absorbed by the needle during this step, specialists are able to determine whether or not the process has been carried out properly.

In the event that the ham proves to be worthy of certification, it will be branded with the organization’s mark or seal. This stamp also contains information about the producer, allowing the origin of the Parma ham to be determined and returned to the manufacturer.

The manufacture of Parma ham is broken down into its component parts, which are shown here in their entirety. After learning about all of the labor-intensive stages that go into making Prosciutto di Parma, it should come as no surprise that the finished product is so flavorful, or that so many people like and respect it.

Conclusion to Parma Ham vs Prosciutto

Parma There are significant distinctions between ham and prosciutto, despite the fact that both terms refer to pork that has been aged and dry-cured.

Parma ham is a specific and unique variety of prosciutto that is processed and produced in the Parma region of Italy. The term “prosciutto” refers to cured pork in general, while “Parma ham” refers to a specific and distinct type of prosciutto.

In contrast to other types of prosciutto, which may be cured with nitrates and nitrites, Parma ham is the only ingredient used in the curing process.

Prosciutto di Parma is the only type of prosciutto that has the Protected Designation of Origin designation, while other types of prosciutto may or may not have this.

When you come across the wonder that is prosciutto for the next time, it will be useful for you to keep these variations in terminology in mind.

Frequently Asked Questions to Parma Ham vs Prosciutto

Is Parma Ham Healthy?

Because it is natural, does not contain any preservatives, and consists of only two ingredients (Italian pork and salt), Parma ham is significantly more nutritious than the majority of cured meats. It does not make use of nitrates or nitrites and can be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet because it does not contain either of these ingredients.

Is Parma Ham Raw?

Parma ham is a dry-cured pork product that is aged and matured over time using sea salt, air, and time. This process takes place over several months. Although it is technically raw, it has been subjected to a rigorous curing and maturing process, which makes it perfectly safe for consumption without being cooked.

Is Prosciutto the Same As Parma Ham?

Parma ham is a variety of prosciutto, but it is distinguished from other varieties of prosciutto by the fact that it is produced exclusively in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.


Which is better Parma ham or prosciutto?

What sets Parma ham different from prosciutto? is one of the most frequently asked questions in our FAQ section. Parma ham and prosciutto di Parma are two names for the same food since ham is referred to as prosciutto in Italian, the language in which it is spoken. Prosciutto is sometimes used as a general term to indicate a product that does not have a label or a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).

Whats the difference between prosciutto and prosciutto di Parma?

In spite of the fact that it has been cured for thousands of years, Prosciutto di Parma has always been completely natural and has never contained any additives, preservatives, or hormones. The Prosciutto di Parma has a richer flavor than many other types of prosciutto because it is aged for twice as long. There is no other prosciutto that has the same refined, savory-sweet flavor and buttery texture as prosciutto.

Is prosciutto di Parma the best?

According to Eataly, Prosciutto Crudo di Parma is regarded as the King of Hams and has been reigning supreme since it was first mentioned in 100 BCE by Cato, the Elder, who praised the flavor of the air-cured ham. Cato was impressed by the flavor of the ham. This prosciutto, which is made in the city of Parma in Italy, has quickly established itself as many people’s go-to choice for cured ham.

What is the highest quality prosciutto?

Where Is Prosciutto Made Best? Parma, which is located in the region of Emilia-Romagna, and San Daniele, which is located in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, are the two cities that have been curing prosciutto for the longest. Both prosciutto di Parma and prosciutto di San Daniele have a long and illustrious history, which contributes to their status as the most well-known hams in Italy and beyond.

What is special about Parma ham?

Parma ham comes from the hind legs of pigs. Curing the meat with sea salt — just enough to preserve the ham without it tasting too salty — causes it to lose a significant amount of moisture, about a quarter of its weight.