Hind legs of pigs bred in Italy, sea salt and the distinctive microclimate of San Daniele del Friuli. These are the only three ingredients –all crucial- of Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP. Top-quality and exclusively Italian raw materials, combined with the knowledge and the skills of our master prosciutto makers, give the prosciutto its unmistakable aroma, making it an excellence of Made in Italy cuisine.
Only Italian pigs
Let’s start with the key element of the raw materials of San Daniele Dop: the pork hind legs.These are entirely produced and processed in Italy, in a limited geographical area. We are speaking of a supply chain consisting of 3799 farms and 116 slaughterhouses, that enclose as many as ten regions of the North and Center of the Peninsula, (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Latium, Abruzzi, Marche and Umbria).
Here the pigs used for the production of San Daniele DOP are bred and selected, all coming from Italian races.
Every single hind leg is obtained only from selected cattle of heavy weight Large White, Landrace and Italian Duroc. Pure bred pigs or coming from these kinds are also allowed, from the traditional Large White, Landrace and Duroc basic races, as improved by the Italian Breeding Book. Pigs from other breeds, mixed race or hybrid, are allowed as long as they come from selections or cross schemes with purposes that are consistent with the purposes of the Italian Breeding Book. The required genetic types are distinguished by the attainment of a heavy weight: the Product Specification requests an average weight of 160 kg, with a 10% variable range.
The production cycle does not include all pigs not belongin to the above mentioned races or not suitable for the allowed genetical types. The creation of a pig DNA database provides an additional control on the supply chain. The purpose is to avoid counterfeiting and frauds on the genetical types, and it allows, through a test on DNA on the final product, to certify with due reliability the use of compliant races.
The weight of Prosciutto di San Daniele and the fat layer
The weight of every single hind leg is important to obtain a prosciutto of the highest quality.
Sure enough, after the first selection, already carried out in the slaughterouses, the specialized operators of the prosciutto factories of San Daniele pick the individual pieces to send to the production process! You should actually know that every hind leg must absolutely comply with the minimum standard weight of 12,5 kg and must not not exceed 17,5 kg, with an even ratio of lean mass and fat layer. The latter must meet specificied parameters in terms of thickness and texture. In the outer part of the trimmed raw hind leg the fat layer, vertically measured at the femur, must be no less than 15 millimetres thick, rind included.
The sea salt
The second ingredient, dry sea salt, is added to the selected hind legs ready for processing. This too is an Italian raw material, as it comes from the central-southern area of our country. Every pork hind leg, having been sprinkled with salt, is left to rest at a temperature between 0 and 3°C, for a number of days corresponding to the kilograms of its weight. During this step, prosciutto starts to release humidity and later to dehydrate. Pressing is the next step, and it allows the salt to penetrate inside the meat and flavor all the prosciutto.
In compliance with the most recent Product specification, the amount of salt has been largely decreased, to reduce also the environmental impact of the production cycle of Prosciutto di San Daniele.
Regarding this last issue, since several years the Consorteum is committed to allocate the residual salt from the processing to alternative uses, such as road de-icing or for the tanning industry.
The raw materials of Prosciutto di San Daniele: the microclimate
The third ingredient of San Daniele DOP is there but you can’t see it, and it does a very important job. We are speaking of the unique microclimate of San Daniele del Friuli, crucial to give prosciutto not only its typical taste but also its sensory qualities.
This hamlet is set in the heart of Friuli Venezia Giulia, in a spot where the salty warm breezes, going up the river Tagliamento from the Adriatic sea, meet the cold winds that come down from the Carnic Alps along the river bed. This creates a light and constant ventilation, to which the prosciutti are exposed during the maturing process. Added to this is the presence of the same river Tagliamento, which flows nearby and borders the Friulian town. The river serves as a natural regulator of the air temperature and humidity, thus granting an ideal environment for the prosciutto production. This is why the 31 prosciutto factories of the Consorteum are based solely and exclusively in San Daniele del Friuli!
In short, only three ingredients, three raw materials for the San Daniele Dop are enough to make our jewel a delicacy of Made in Italy eaten and valued worldwide.