Can You Eat Prosciutto Raw?

Prosciutto is a tasty Italian meat that is made out of high-quality pork legs. In other words, prosciutto is a type of ham.

If you’re wondering if you can eat prosciutto raw, the answer is yes, it is perfectly safe to eat this type of ham raw. Because of the way it is processed, bacteria is unable to get into the meat, and the same process also allows for a much better overall flavor.

Prosciutto that you can eat raw

Why You Can Eat Prosciutto Raw

When processed, Italian prosciutto is covered in salt, and is then left to rest for several weeks. During this timeframe, the salt draws out moisture and blood, which is why bacteria is unable to enter into the meat. In addition to making the meat safe for people to eat, the salt allows the flavors to become more concentrated, which is why prosciutto ham is such a tasty type of ham.

Types of Prosciutto

There are two main types of prosciutto: prosciutto crudo and prosciutto cotto. Each has its own unique flavor and can be served with many different types of foods.

Prosciutto crudo

Prosciutto crudo is dry-aged and seasoned but never actually cooked in the traditional sense. In fact, “crudo” means “raw” in Italian. The ham is sliced very thin and has a deep-red color. It is especially tasty when served with creamy cheeses and fresh fruit, and is often wrapped around fresh melon or breadsticks.

Prosciutto cotto

Prosciutto cotto is cooked ham and is a bright-pink color. It has a light flavor and is cooked slowly at controlled temperatures. Prosciutto cotto is sometimes seasoned with herbs and spices, and is especially tasty when served with bold cheeses and a crisp white wine.

Is Prosciutto a Raw Meat?

In reality, there is both raw prosciutto (crudo) and cooked prosciutto (cotto). Many people assume that all prosciutto is raw, but the truth is that it can be either cooked or raw. The prosciutto that comes raw goes through a dry-cured process, which means it is almost cooked in the traditional sense, but is not cooked over a stove or baked in an oven.

Prosciutto Ingredients

The region where the prosciutto is made will give it a unique flavor that is unlike the flavor of prosciutto made in other regions of Italy. For instance, some prosciutto is made with selected heritage breed pigs that are raised in only 11 different parts of Italy. Other types of prosciutto are made in areas with higher altitudes and a different climate, which gives this type of ham a totally different taste.

When you buy prosciutto, you’ll notice the region where it is made, and that’s what gives each type of prosciutto a unique and different taste.

How Prosciutto Is Cured With Salt

Dry-cured prosciutto

The process starts when pork legs are covered with salt and left alone during the curing process, which usually takes several weeks.

After several weeks, the pork legs are washed and seasoned by hand, often with an old family recipe. It is then left to dry at a controlled temperature for the drying process, which takes anywhere from 14 to 36 months. It is the air (which is influenced by the region where it is being processed), the salt, and the timeframe that give prosciutto its delicate and slightly sweet flavor.

How To Prepare and Eat Raw Prosciutto

The best way to prepare raw prosciutto is to slice it incredibly thin. You’ll notice the white streaks of fat in it, which are supposed to be there. If you place the prosciutto slice on your tongue, you’ll be able to savor all the flavors in the meat that make it unique. Make sure you eat it slowly so you don’t miss anything!

Can You Cook Prosciutto?

While it is perfectly acceptable to cook prosciutto—some people add it to sauces for their pasta—doing so often changes the flavor and texture of the meat, which is why it is recommended that you always eat prosciutto just the way it is. Whether you choose crudo or cotto, prosciutto tastes great just like it is and never has to be cooked or altered in any way.

Now that you know more about prosciutto, learn what prosciuttini is.