Everyone knows that to get an excellent product nothing can be left to chance. In San Daniele we are well aware of this. Behind every Prosciutto di San Daniele Dop there are long months of work and a wealth of knowledge that is the result of centuries-old tradition, and this is renewed every time a pork thigh comes to our town. So let’s start discovering the manufacturing process that leads to the creation of Friulian prosciutto crudo Dop.
The selection of the thighs
A preliminary remark is in order: Prosciutto di San Daniele is made only with pigs that were born, bred and slaughtered in Italy, in the ten regions stated in the Product Specification, the document that strictly governs every processing step. Within 120 hours after the slaughtering, each chilled thigh arrives in the prosciutto factories of San Daniele. Here our specialist operators select the single pieces for the processing. Every thigh must meet a minimum standard weight of 12,5 kg and must not exceed 17,5 kg and have a constant balance between lean tissue and fat layer. If it doesn’t meet these requirements, the thigh is discarded.
Once it has passed the first inspection, it is stamped with the date of the day the prosciutto processing began. This stamp adds up to those that are already imprintend on the rind, with the acronym for the province, and the identification code of the breeding farm, the month the pig was born and the identification code of the slaughterhouse. Once they get past the first screening, the thighs are put in a cold room so they can all reach the same temperature, between 0 °C and 3 °C.
The salting is the second step of the process. The selected thighs are dry-cured with sea salt from the center-south of Italy. After that they are laid in this state to rest for a number of days equivalent to their weight. During this step, the prosciutto starts giving off its moisture and dehydrating. The pressing stage is then crucial, as it allows the salt to penetrate inside the meat , giving all the prosciutto flavour. And it is here that little by little the unmistakable taste of San Daniele Dop starts to unfold.
Towards the maturing stage
Once they are cleaned of the salt, the thighs are delicately massaged and put into frames, stored in cold rooms. In this new environment, with a temperature between +4 °C and +6 °C, the fluid drainage reaches its peak, also thanks to a dampness between 70 and 80%. This is the time to further take care of the thighs, trimming them and removing the excess meat. Now they are ready for the next processing steps, in view of the curing, which will turn them into one-of-a-kind prosciutti.