I San Nicola hams leave the factory to be placed on the market divided into six different stages of maturation. Each of these six products come from the leg of an animal born and bred in Italy, raised on the best breeding farms and slaughtered in the most modern houses, processed exclusively with sea salt and cured for a minimum of 16 months. But the trademark of San Nicola is primarily in long and very long-cured hams – up to 36 months of maturation before being marketed.
To avoid overly salty and savory food, producing any significant curing of cold cuts is in itself a complex process. This is especially true for the producers of Parma Prosciutto, which has a pleasantly sweet taste sought by consumers worldwide. Perfecting the production of an excellent long-cured ham as represented by San Nicola requires very precise selections and procedures.
To start with, the choice of fresh produce is crucial. This selection process begins for the company with the acquisition of potential PDO closed-loop origin cuts - i.e. farms where the animals will be born, weaned and mature - in order to promote consistency of genetic characteristics, and thus the initial quality of the product to be processed. A larger cut of leg must be selected, with a fatty band spread evenly over the surface (to ensure a balanced intake of salt), and generally be of the highest, above-average quality, for the long rest period in the curing chamber in accordance with the quality standards of the facility.
The processing phase in turn is the decisive moment, where the expertise of the production operators is paramount - and the team working with San Nicola has more than thirty years of experience, commencing from the opening day of Prosciuttificio Del Sole. The crucial moments of consideration in the curing process begin by visual inspection of the quality of fat and lean parts, with particular attention paid in the following two stages. First, the trimming, which consists of preparing a thigh to be as uniform as possible in aesthetic terms; then salting with measured salt, for which the quantity, contact time and especially the positioning of the salt relative to the surface of the product is calibrated, to meticulously balance the way in which the salt is absorbed by the various muscles of the thigh.
This painstaking process of selection, precision and choice of methods is the basis of the success of long-curing San Nicola ham, preserving the sweetness and smoothness of the taste, while adding very significant elements of range and intensity for a measured flavor aspect.