The iconic Prosciutto di Parma, known for its delicate flavor, rich aroma, and centuries-old curing methods, is celebrated annually at the Festival del Prosciutto di Parma. This year, the festival marks its XXVI edition, which will take place from the 1st to the 3rd of September, 2023.
A Peek into the Art of Prosciutto Making
A highlight of the festival is the “FINESTRE APERTE” (Open Windows) initiative. This event, which attracts a vast audience of enthusiasts every year, offers visitors a unique behind-the-scenes look at the meticulous process behind the creation of Prosciutto di Parma. As part of this initiative, producers open the doors of their prosciutto-making facilities – known affectionately as the “cathedrals of Prosciutto di Parma” – allowing guests to immerse themselves in the rich aromas and discover the secrets of the ham’s production cycle.
Guided Tours and Bookings
To provide an intimate and informative experience, the festival organizes six guided tours daily. These tours, orchestrated by the participating companies, are limited to groups of a maximum of 15 people. Morning tours are scheduled at 10:00, 11:00, and 12:00, while afternoon tours are available at 15:00, 16:00, and 17:00.
If you’re keen on joining the FINESTRE APERTE experience, remember to book your spot in advance through the official website https://www.langhiranovalley.it/finestreaperte/. The initiative comes with a modest fee of €2 for adults, while youngsters under 18 can join for free. However, participants are required to arrange their transportation to the facilities.
Participating Prosciutto Facilities
On the 2nd of September, the following establishments in Langhirano will be welcoming visitors:
- Corradi Guerrino spa
- Fratelli Galloni Spa
- Leporati Prosciutti
- S. Ilario Prosciutti s.r.l. (located in Lesignano De’ Bagni)
- Tanara Giancarlo s.p.a.
- ZUARINA spa
The festival also lists other dates in September for open visits, hinting at an extended celebration and multiple opportunities to explore different prosciutto-making establishments.
How to Reach the Festival
While specific directions and details on how to get to the festival are not provided in the shared information, potential visitors can select dates and commune data or consult an interactive map available on the festival’s website to guide their journey.
Contact and Further Details
For more information or queries about the festival, one can reach out to the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma at Largo Calamandrei 1/A, 43121 Parma, Italy. Their contact number is 0521 246 211, and email inquiries can be directed to [email protected].
What to Expect from the Visit
Upon entering the prosciutto facilities, visitors are instantly greeted by the unmistakable and enticing aroma of aging ham, a testament to the time-honored curing process that defines Prosciutto di Parma. The tour guides, often seasoned experts, will walk you through the various stages of production – from the initial salting to the final aging. As you meander through the corridors lined with rows of hanging hams, you’ll gain insights into the delicate balance of time, temperature, and air circulation that gives Prosciutto di Parma its unique flavor. Along the way, there will be opportunities to ask questions, and often, taste samples of this exquisite product at various stages of its maturity. Expect an immersive experience that tantalizes not just your taste buds, but all your senses.
How Prosciutto di Parma is Made
Prosciutto di Parma is a result of a meticulous process that combines age-old traditions with strict regulations to ensure the highest quality product. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how this delectable ham is made:
- Selection of Pork: Only specific breeds of pigs, primarily Large White, Landrace, and Duroc, are used. The pigs are raised in eleven regions of Italy and are primarily fed a diet of grains and the whey from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese production, which imparts a unique flavor to the meat.
- Salting: After slaughter and initial preparation, the hams are salted. This is a critical step in the curing process. The salt draws out moisture and helps to preserve the ham. The amount of salt used and the duration of salting are carefully controlled to ensure a perfect balance of flavor and preservation.
- Resting: Post salting, the hams are stored in a cool environment and left to rest for about a month. This allows the salt to penetrate deeply into the meat.
- Washing and Drying: After resting, the hams are washed with warm water and brushed to remove any remaining salt. They are then dried in a well-ventilated area.
- Aging: The hams are transferred to aging rooms where they undergo a natural drying process. This is where the magic happens. Exposed to the gentle breezes of the Parma region, the hams slowly develop their distinct taste and aroma. This aging process can last for over 18 months.
- Greasing: To prevent the exterior of the ham from drying out too quickly, a mixture of lard and salt, sometimes with added rice flour, is applied to the exposed surface of the meat.
- Inspection: Only the best hams earn the prestigious ‘Prosciutto di Parma’ designation. After the aging process, each ham is carefully inspected by a member of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma. They use a horse bone needle to check the aroma at various points. If it passes the test, it is fire-branded with the iconic Ducal crown, a guarantee of its authenticity and quality.
- Final Preparation: Once approved, the prosciutto is trimmed and cleaned, giving it its final, recognizable shape. It can then be packaged whole or sliced and is ready to be savored.
The entire process, from selection of the pork to the final product, reflects a commitment to quality, tradition, and the rich heritage of the Parma region. When you indulge in a slice of Prosciutto di Parma, you’re tasting not just the flavor of the ham but the legacy of centuries of Italian culinary artistry.
The Festival del Prosciutto di Parma is more than just a celebration of a culinary delight; it’s a homage to a tradition that has been upheld for centuries. Whether you’re a gourmet, a curious traveler, or someone who simply appreciates the fine things in life, this festival promises a flavorful and enriching experience. Join the celebration and savor the unparalleled taste and tradition of Prosciutto di Parma.