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Q: Varieties of Ham ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Varieties of Ham
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: chriso_312-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 11 Jul 2003 09:31 PDT
Expires: 10 Aug 2003 09:31 PDT
Question ID: 227852
What are the primary differences among the following varieties of ham?
- Proscuitto
- Serano 
- Virginia
Subject: Re: Varieties of Ham
Answered By: kutsavi-ga on 11 Jul 2003 11:20 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hey there Chriso,

Great question, and now I'm very hungry ;-)  

Prosciutto is an Italian-style raw ham, a specialty of Parma, cured by
salting for one month, followed by air-drying in cool curing sheds for
half a
year or longer. It is usually cut into tissue-thin slices that
highlight its
intense flavor and deep pink color. The slices are enjoyed on their
own or are
heated or cooked as part of a recipe. Prosciutto di Parma, imported
from Italy,
is regarded as the best quality. Refrigerate prosciutto, well wrapped,
several weeks.

Serrano ham is from Spain.  Interestingly, the color of the pig the
meat comes from matters:

"The most popular jamon, [ham] in Spain is the "Jamon Serrano", or
"mountain ham". While the curing process is very similar to the
Iberico, the jamon serrano is from the white pig, typically a
Landrace/Duroc cross-breed that is fed a low unsaturated fat diet of
quality grains."

From the same site, here is a bit of information about the differences
between prosciutto and serrano:

"Jamon is Spanish for "ham". In the Spanish style, it is the rear-leg
of a pig that is briefly cured in a 2,000 year old tradition. Since
the time of the Caesers, jamones have been made using simply the
finest quality swine, sea salt, fresh mountain air and time. It is a
purely natural product and is served in thin slices, uncooked, since
the salt-curing process has perfectly preserved and stabilized the
meat. The air-drying process removes the water and bacteria no longer
can survive. Spanish-style jamon differs from the Italian prosciutto
of Parma or a French jambon. Jamon is longer aged, its flavor much
bolder and its texture is firmer."

Another interesting fact about Mediterranean hams like Serrano and
prosciutto is that they are carved paralell to the bone and extremely
thin, while we carve our "Virginia" style hams perpendicular to the
bone into more of a slab here in the States.  This accounts for the
marbeled appearance of the prosciutto and Serrano styles.

Country-style ham such as Virginia is cured with salt or brine, then
smoked and
aged. Ham is also sold boiled or cooked and canned. It can be ground
or cut
into steaks. There is an excellent site about the dry curing method
for making
a "virginia ham.":
The site also gives a note of historical information about the
Virginia ham.
I've copied it below:

"Virginia ham was one of the first agricultural products exported from
America. The Reverend Mr. Andrew Burnaby enthusiastically reported
Virginia pork was superior in flavor to any in the world. Another
clergyman, the Reverend Mr. John Clayton, wrote the Royal Society in
that Virginia ham was as good as any in Westphalia.

"Today, after more than three centuries of progress, Virginia ham is
considered a superb product because of its distinctive savory taste.
For those
who want to "do-it-yourself" cure and age a ham that will recapture
delightful flavor so highly cherished by these early clergymen,
certain rules
must be followed."

So, it appears that the primary differences in types of ham are the
curing process and the carving style.  Hope this is the information
you were looking for.  If you need clarification, don't hesitate to
use the "Request Clarification" button!

Thanks for very interesting question, 

A good list of different types of ham and other things of interest
pertaining to ham can be found on the site:


ham types -radio
ham history
prociutto ham
serano ham
serrano ham
virginia ham
ham varieties
chriso_312-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Great answer and fast, too! thank you!

Subject: Re: Varieties of Ham
From: magnesium-ga on 11 Jul 2003 11:34 PDT
What an excellent and comprehensive answer! Bravo, kutsavi-ga!

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