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How to taste Prosciutto di Parma

A proper Prosciutto di Parma tasting takes place in two phases based on specific evaluation categories.

Visual test

In terms of the external part of the prosciutto, you should begin by analyzing the shape. It should be pear-shaped and the fat should be well distributed. No areas of meat should be exposed and skin itself should be uniform.
The fat should be white with light pink stripes. The meat should be a pinkish-red color and uniform in each muscle group. To evaluate the structure of a slice of prosciutto, pinch together the fatty and lean parts with your fingers to check for moisture and grease. There should be low levels of both. Once sliced, the meat should be moist, but not shiny. In the center of the slice, identify the femoral artery. It should be clean and white with a soft consistency.

Smell and taste test

Now, you can move onto the real tasting of the ham. Begin by examining the aroma of the meat, followed by the taste and touch testes.
The aroma of a good Prosciutto di Parma should be fragrant, delicate, sweet and balanced. It should smell like aged meat.
Now taste a slice by placing it all in your mouth. Does it have the intensity and flavors that are characteristic of Prosciutto di Parma: sweet, lightly salty, fresh, balanced and sharp in the throat.
Swallow the slice you just tasted and close your eyes. Exhale out of your nose to analyze the retro-nasal sensations, particularly their intensity and persistency. The aroma should be that of aged meat and red berries. 
To evaluate the texture of the slice, think about how easy or difficult it was to chew. If the prosciutto is good, it should create a balanced sensation between tenderness and tendency to melt.

Positive Attributes

The deboned ham should weight at least 16.5 lbs

  • The ham should be pear-shaped and not flattened
  • There should be no hair remaining on the skin
  • The veins and hematomas (external and internal) should not be too large or evident
  • The color of the sliced meat should be a uniform orange red, streaked with pure white due to the fat
  • The aroma and flavor should be delicate and sweet, slightly salty, fragrant and typical of prosciutto di Parma.

Defects

  • Flattened or unsymmetrical in shape
  • Excess fat in the lean areas of the aged pork thigh.
  • Limited amount of fat Presence of yeast and mold or liquid has gotten inside the meat
  • Yellow and/or rancid fat due to poor aging or storing
  • Different colors spanning across a single slice of meat
  • White dots (or thyroxine crystals) in excess and crystallized in a way that makes the ham difficult to chew
  • Flavor of raw meat

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