Location, tradition and geography are all important when it comes to Prosciutto di San Daniele.
That’s because, quite simply, it is a unique prosciutto.
Only prosciutto that comes from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in the area around the town of San Daniele del Friuli, in the hilly Udine province, can bear our name. Local farmers use techniques handed down from generation to generation to create the finest Prosciutto di San Daniele.
Just as Champagne can only be produced from grapes grown in that French region, and Parmesan cheese must come from Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano area, so too is our Prosciutto di San Daniele location-specific.
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio, Abruzzo, Marche and Umbria – the names skip off the tongue as smoothly as models parading down an Italian catwalk. Prosciutto di San Daniele only comes from pigs born and bred in these ten regions of northern Italy.
We are subject to the EU rules of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), and the quality of our prosciutto was recognised by the Italian government as far back as 1970.
There’s something very special about the geography here. Without the Tagliamento river, we wouldn’t have the unique micro-climate and distinctive provenance that allows us to naturally air-cure our prosciutto.
Fresh, clean winds flow directly from the Carnic Alps and meet warmer air coming in from the Adriatic Sea. It’s nature’s own ventilation and it helps to make Prosciutto di San Daniele special.
You can recognise our prosciutto by its ‘guitar’ shape and by the Consortium seal branded onto each rind to guarantee it is 100% Prosciutto di San Daniele.
But what about ingredients? There are just two – pork meat and sea salt, nothing else. Well, perhaps the addition of time, if you can call that an ingredient.
Thanks to the salt and our optimum temperature, moisture and ventilation conditions, our prosciutto keeps perfectly without using any preservatives. We prefer the natural rhythms of nature and time, rather than resort to unnatural additives.
Here’s another interesting morsel of information – only the hind legs of pigs are used to make Prosciutto di San Daniele. We choose them because of their weight, shape of the muscle, flesh and fat proportion, then we air-cure them in a maturing process that lasts for a minimum of 13 months.
Whether the prosciutto has been matured for 13 months or longer, the quality is always the same. And while a longer maturation will result in a more intense flavour, it’s all down to personal preference as to how long you like your prosciutto to be matured.
Any form of freezing our meat is forbidden under our rules and guidelines – the fresh meat must reach San Daniele rapidly for processing. That’s how you know it is a pure as can be. And the trotter is always left in place too, as a sign of the integrity and tradition involved in the process.
There’s so much to learn if you look closely at the thigh. Each one is marked with a code relating to the farm it comes from, and even the birth month of the pig.
But that’s not all, there are some final steps in the process from farm to plate!
An important part of the maturation process is the piercing of the thigh with a special tool made from bone. By sniffing the tool, our inspectors can tell things such as the quality of the prosciutto and how the maturing process is progressing.
The inspectors from the Certifying Body check the quality of the prosciutto, and only when they are satisfied does it get the official mark of Prosciutto di San Daniele.
Then the time comes for the branding of the prosciutto, with the consortium logo and the ID number of the producer. You can think of it as a graduation ceremony – the prosciutto has matured for at least 13 months, it has passed various quality checks and now it is almost ready to go out into the world to be tasted and enjoyed.
When Prosciutto di San Daniele leaves our town, it makes its journey around the world. Perhaps some of our prosciutto will turn up at a picnic in California, or a birthday meal in London. Maybe it will form part of a family meal in Sydney, Australia or a snack-for-one in Milan. Perhaps some of it doesn’t travel very far at all, and is served for lunch or dinner in one of our local trattorias.
Wherever and however you enjoy your Prosciutto di San Daniele, we wish you buon appetito!