Flavor & Ages
Each leg destined for the U.S. must be cured for a minimum of 400 days according to the Consorzio’s guidelines, but can age for as long as three years, which causes a slight variation in flavor. These different flavor profiles and textures of the meat may in turn influence how you prepare or pair a dish that uses the product. As Prosciutto di Parma ages, the flavor becomes more complex and sweeter, perfect for enjoying on its own. Keep in mind also that aging ends when the leg is deboned, but you can continue to age a bone-in leg, as long as it’s not refrigerated.
The ham is the most moist but is still developing its full flavor. Since it is still fairly mild in taste, it can adapt itself to many different applications. About 70% of Prosciutto di Parma in the United States is of this age. Use for appetizers, cooking, fillings for pasta or any dish where you will be bringing heat into the recipe.
Here, the prosciutto flavor is slightly more defined and present. Often described as nutty or earthy, it is best eaten alone or on top of a charcuterie board to balance out other flavors.
Prosciutto di Parma from two years and beyond should never be cooked, and only eaten as is or with light cheeses that don’t compete with its flavor. This older age has a taste that’s more mature and full-flavored, yet dry, with less moisture.