How to Buy Prosciutto

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Imported Italian prosciutto stands out as one of the finest cold meats available to American consumers. Though somewhat pricey, prosciutto remains a must-have ingredient in many Italian and Mediterranean dishes. You can serve it raw or cooked for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Like most higher-end imported foods, prosciutto has its imitators. Follow these guidelines to make sure you buy the best quality prosciutto.

  • Decide which of the two kinds of prosciutto you prefer, raw or cooked. The raw prosciutto is most popular, especially with American cooks. It pairs equally well with fruits, as an appetizer or with cheese in a sandwich.

  • Read the label for country of origin. Real prosciutto comes from Italy and, most notably, the Parma region. Prosciutto from this particular region is known as "Prosciutto di Parma."

  • Make sure the prosciutto label identifies the product as "PDO Prosciutto." This stands for Protected Denomination of Origin. It guarantees the prosciutto you buy conforms to the strict production standards in Italy.

  • Buy Prosciutto di San Daniele if you prefer the taste of sea salt. Buy Prosciutto di Toscano if you prefer the added flavors of juniper, black pepper, rosemary and garlic.

  • Purchase a whole boneless prosciutto if you are serving a large gathering. Avoid ordering slices of prosciutto online since they tend to taste like their vacuum packaging.

  • Get prosciutto at an Italian or Greek specialty food store or reputable butcher shop. You can trust the prosciutto at your local supermarket only if you ask to see the packaging on its label which identifies it as an Italian import.

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