Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homemade Proscuitto

My first attempt at making homemade proscuitto started in 2007. I got the inspiration to give it a try from reading Hugh F-W's Meatbook which has been a bible of mine for a number of years - it is hugely imformative and well written but if you're reading this blog you have probably read it already so i won't go on about it. The method I used was very simple put the leg into a wooden box with some small holes in the bottom tilt the box slightly and add a good covering of salt on the bottom of the box (some salt will be lost through the holes) then put the leg on the salt and cover the leg with more salt till you can't see it anymore. I got a piece of plywood big enough to cover the inside of the box and put a big piece of granite on top and left it like that for a month. The combination of the salt and the weight draws out the moisture. Took it out of the salt washed the salt off with vinegar and hung it for 9 or 10 months. Strange molds did start appearing on it but I scraped it off and rubbed it with vinegar apparently the white mold is good mold but the rest should be scraped off when it appears. The following video shows me cutting into the leg for the first time, to say i was surprised at how good it tasted would be a massive understatement! This was filmed March in 2008.

The fact that the above method worked may have been due to beginners luck as I tried it again last year, and it didn't work at all which I discovered when I cut into it and several maggots dropped to the floor - heart breaking experience need I say. Having researched this I have come to the conclusion that the reason why this didn't work was because one needs to weigh the leg and give it 5 days in the salt box per kilo - I just gave it a month and didn't bother weighing it. Weighing is a good idea also as it can be a good indicator of when the ham is ready - as in when the ham has been hanging for some time it becomes lighter and lighter so when it has lost say (and this is a guess) 30% of its original weight you can assume that it is time to tuck in.


  1. Nice job,
    I am just starting to cure and smoke some of my own meats. Although I am a professional chef this is a new areana for me. To risky to do this in the restaurant without the propper equipment.
    What is the temperature and humidity in your aging space. So on your first try would you say you over salted. How was the texture?
    I live on the east coast (US) now and am thinking if I start one in fall it should survive through summer,it does in Italy.
    Let me know what you think

  2. hi max danny dobbs here, i am also curing my own ham..its been hanging for about a month.....the waiting game begins!. That must have been a very specail moment in the video above..looks tasty...

    Mine are hanging in a friends shed,which is slight under ground seems like a good spot, was there must draft in your drying room?..slightly concerned about the lack of air circulating

    ALso both the legs and wrapped in muslin, do you reckon we should check them for mold already, its quite a job undoing the cloth on a regular basis....maybe forget the cloth altogether?

    Any further advice for the caring of my childern so to speak would be very helpful...hope the ballyteige banquets are still in full flow....x

    Here a few pics of my ones...!/album.php?aid=386088&id=870915646&ref=mf

  3. Hey Danny, nice pics! you seem to have wrapped them up very much I never wrapped mine in muslin but that was because they hung in room that had windows which were covered in fly proof mesh and not glass this meant that there was always a draft which is really important. hanging them in muslin from the roof of a veranda would work better i think but you may prove me wrong. yes next banquet happening on 26th march - can't wait! hope to see you over easter.

    as for Justin's comment

    the proscuitto process traditionally starts in september october but the leg in the video was started in june we had a particularly bad summer that year though so its hard to say...