According to a survey by Eurispes and Coldiretti in 2015, consumers are increasingly attentive to food quality. More than 80% carefully check the labelling and almost 50% prefer PDO, DOC or PGI products. The same research also underlines that there is still a lot to be done on food education, especially among the young.
At Faleria Prosciuttificio, we scrupulously comply with European directives on food labelling (Regulation 1169/2011) and believe we must contribute to raising consumer awareness of food beyond the legal obligations.
This is why we have created the Prosciutto Buyers Guide to offer consumers advice based on our experience and passion for prosciutto.
The visual aspect
The visual aspect is the first thing to consider when choosing a prosciutto, which has a lean, red part and a white, fatty part.
The fatty part
The fat gives aroma and softness to the slice. It shows the pig was slaughtered once at the right state of fattening. For Italian PDO prosciutto, the pigs must be at least 160 kg, though abroad lower standards are accepted.
Regardless of size and weight one essential aspect is the ratio between the lean and fatty parts, which must always be well balanced. The share of fat varies with the pig’s breed and diet but should be between 11% and 18%. The colour is also an indicator of quality. The fat must be white or at most just pinkish, if it turns yellow, for example, the pig was not fed correctly or the prosciutto has begun to oxidise.
The lean part
The lean part is bright red and can be crossed by small strips of fat, called marbling. If the prosciutto has been aged for too long, the surface of the slice will be particularly dry and if the ageing was too short, the prosciutto will be moister.
The surface of the slice may have white dots, often mistaken for grains of salt. These are agglomerates of natural amino acids, mainly tyrosine. They are generally the result of a manufacturing defect that has compromised proper drying of the prosciutto and can give the slice a chalky consistency when chewing.
Any iridescent areas with yellow or greenish hues, on the other hand, are not an indication of major defects, nor do they alter the aroma and taste of the sliced prosciutto.
In the next articles we will go into more detail on the olfactory, tactile and taste aspects, sensory analysis and how to sell and preserve prosciutto.