The seasoning of Parma Hams is a very important phase of the productive process.
Before passing to the seasoning, the product receives the “sugnatura”, it means it is covered of this specific mixture of grease, salt and pepper (known as “sugna”: lard) which allows to keep the product soft. Lard is a product of the butchery, so it’s natural and without preservatives.
At the seventh month the Parma Ham is transferred to the cellars, obligatorily placed in the typical area of production. The specific environmental characteristics contribute to influence the development of the seasoning and together determine the characteristic scent and flavour of Parma Ham.
During the seasoning, important biochemist and enzymatic processes take place, including proteolysis, that is the fission of protein chains of meat and the release of specific amino acids, which are responsible for the taste’s creation of Parma Ham.
During this process, the product little by little loses taste and the characteristics of the fresh meat, and so in this way Parma Ham becomes more digestible.
It is important that this phase occurs in exact times in order to avoid the arise of deficiencies in the product. The seasoning of Parma Ham goes from a minimum of 10/12 months up to 2/3 years. For this reason strict and habitual controls will be always carried out indications of proteolysis, in addition to the check of damp, temperature ect.
The natural seasoning of Parma Ham is one of the factores that mainly contribute to the quality of the product. The ability of the experts in seasoning consists of always knowing how to better air the spaces according to the weather conditions.
Air, which passes through the windows of the cellars, allows to lose the remaining water thanks to the low degree of damp and the ventilation of the salt.
Due to the seasoning, you have a decrease in weight of approximately 5%
At the end of the seasoning, you can realize procedures of check, an olfactory exam which consists of the penetration of the product with a needle of bone of horse. The needle is smelt by experts with the role of recognizing and valuing the olfactory characteristics, in order to establish the progress of productive process. Then follow the marking of the product and the attribution of the related certifications.