25.02.15 – THIS WEEK’S SPECIAL – PROSCIUTTO TOSCANO

Tuscan salume

Among the many reasons why our parma ham remains so popular, must be that it is one of the most famous Italian salumi. Like the hams of San Daniele, a region the Ham & Cheese Co. visited a couple of weeks ago, prosciutto from Parma has a reputation that precedes it – and no wonder, because it is delicious.

However, there are no small producers of Parma and San Daniele hams. The San Daniele producer we met makes 7000 hams a year, which is still a relatively low number and allows him to control the process from selection to salting himself. By contrast, in Tuscany Carlo Pieri makes only 400 hams a year.

His Prosciutto Toscano attracts customers from across the region. Tuscan salumi, such as salame toscano, is traditionally more spiced than its counterparts in neighbouring regions. Carlo’s ham, accordingly, is cured with a mix that includes pepper, juniper, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, bay and coriander, as well as salt.

There is in fact a Prosciutto Toscano DOP, although Carlo has chosen not to be part of it. Most of the hams in this DOP are aged for 12-14 months, whereas Carlo ages his for 18-24 months. His shop is in the Val d’Orcia region, a UNESCO world heritage site where the microclimate around the Orcia river provides conditions that allow him to age his hams for the extra time.

As you’d expect, Tuscan ham goes particularly well with mozzarella, in sandwiches, or as part of an antipasto board.