Parma

4-7 August 2015

We made a culinary stop in Parma to learn how Prosciutto di Parma Parmigiano-Reggiano are produced!

Sara from Food Valley Travel took us on a private tour to visit two local family-run producers of these two most famous Italian delicacies. It was one of our best culinary experiences in Italy :-)

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We first visited the Parmigiano-Reggiano producer S.Pier Damiani, which is run by Anna, Bruno and their son Attilio.

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One of things that make Parmigiano-Reggiano special is that the cows that provide the milk for production have to be fed only on local grass or hay.
To produce one wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano you need 600 litres of milk!

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You can distinguish a real Parmigiano-Reggiano from a fake one looking at the print in the crust. The authentic cheese can only be produced in the Parma – Reggio Emilia area and needs to be minimally 12 months old, which is crucial to obtain an even salt distribution within the cheese.

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We of course had to taste it ourselves!
The tour was even a nice experience for Gabriele, our Italian friend who grey up in the Parma region. 

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On our way to the local Prosciutto di Parma producer, Conti, we passed the beautiful Castello di Torrechiara.

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Like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma has a Protected Geographical Indication. There are 150 producers in Parma that produce 10 million hams in the region in total (out of 20 million pigs!!).

The exquisite taste of the hams comes from the special climate in the Parma region. The local breeze coming from the river is used to dry the hams. Originally the drying process was only controlled by using this natural breeze through opening and closing the windows. Nowadays it is a mixture of climate control and the use of windows.

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Grease with a hint of pepper is put on the hams to protect them from drying out to much.
The aging takes up to 18-24 months. The longer the aging process the stronger the ham tastes.

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To distinguish the real Prosciutto di Parma from a fake one, you have to watch out for the original sign + Parma stamp.

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Once a month a quality test is performed by official experts that place a wooden stick in each ham at 5 different places to smell if it’s still good.

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You were a fantastic and wonderful guide, Sara! Grazie mille!