It is important to be able of recognizing Parma Ham, in order to not run into imitations, above all abroad.
In fact Parma Ham should have the typical roundish form, devoid of the small foot, and its weight should be included between 8-10 kg.
Then you have to learn to read the initials and marks, which indicate PDO: first of all, on the rind you have to find the ducal crown, symbol of Consortium, branded after at least 12 months of maturing. The biggest difficulty comes when the product is not entire: if it consists of thighs with bone or deboned, bowls or vacuum-sealed packages, you have to make sure of the presence of the brand directly on the product or on the package.
Under the crown, you have to see a mark and a number, which indicate the belonging to the Consortium of Parma Ham of the company that produces it.
Moreover, on the legs of Parma Ham you have to find a seal of metal, which indicates the month of year of the beginning of maturing.
On the rind there are all the important data necessary for the traceability of the production chain: code of breeding, EC brand of the slaughter house and EC brand of the producer.
Furthermore it is important the list of ingredients. Real Parma Ham is a natural and without preserves element, and the ingredients are pork meat and sea salt. You have to be suspicious of whatever product has other elements between its own ingredients.
Sensory analysis of Parma Ham
In the qualitative aspects of Parma Ham sweetness, softness and scent must be clearly perceivable and these are the features, which distinctively mark it from others Hams.
The slice exhibits a colour included between pink and red, and interspersed between the pure white of fat parts. Moreover, the slice doesn’t have to be bright, but stew.
Furthermore, the evaluation of the structure is based on the resistance, which the slice offers during the mastication that has to be of scarce importance. A good Parma Ham has to offer a sensation of tenderness and melting, it should not blend in the mouth.
The tasters, who are experts, follow this specific procedure: once it has been swallowed, you have to close the mouth and exhale from the nose in order to define the aromatic olfactory sensations, paying attention to their strength and persistence. So it is possible to perceive better the aroma of matured meat and red fruits.