We jumped on one of the rare chances to get to see how Parma ham is made, the factories are usually not open for visits, only during the "Festival del Prosciutto di Parma" they do guided tours.
Production of Parma hamThe whole process, from the moment when the meat comes in, follows 500 years old rules and there is nothing else involved than high quality meat, salt, time and a lot of knowledge. The location also plays an important role, so it´s not a coincidence that Langhirano, a small town close to Parma, became famous for its Ham - most of the factories are located in the surrounding hills, they get the salty wind from Liguria, which gives the Ham its special taste.
Every single Ham has to be controlled by the Consortium before it gets the seal and I couldn´t believe what I saw: The Controller has something that looks like a long needle (actually it is a bone from a horse), pokes into the Ham in three different spots and smells at the needle after every poking - it looks kind of weird! So if you get to see a whole Prosciutto di Parma, look for three small spots where the needle went in! And another thing: The Ham starts loosing its flavor in the moment you cut it, my advise is: Buy your Prosciutto in shops where they sell a lot!