Usually sliced wafer thin, prosciutto is a salt-cured, air-dried, Italian ham. There are two main types of prosciutto, including cotto, which is offered cooked, and crudo, which is sold raw. However, because crudo has been cured, it does not need to be cooked. Therefore, you don't need to cook any vacuum-packed prosciutto before consuming. You should check the consume-by date listed on the package to ensure it has not spoiled.
Keep unopened, vacuum-sealed, prosciutto in your fridge up until the "use-by" date. Generally this is an extended period of time around six months. If the package has been opened, cover the exposed prosciutto with plastic wrap or place it in a sealed plastic bag. Once opened, the prosciutto should be eaten or frozen within a month. While prosciutto will be safe indefinitely from the growth of bacteria, the USDA recommends eating it within one to two months after freezing.
While there is no need to cook vacuum-sealed prosciutto before consumption, some recipes call for prosciutto to be cooked. Omelets, pizza or prosciutto-wrapped asparagus are examples of recipes where prosciutto will be cooked and served hot. There is no real need to worry about reaching a minimum temperature on your prosciutto if it has been properly stored in the fridge before using in the recipe. Once cooked, the prosciutto crisps taking on more of the property of a thin, deliciously salty, slice of bacon.
Pancetta is often incorrectly identified as prosciutto because the coloring of the two meats is similar. Pancetta, also called Italian bacon, is unsmoked pork belly cured in salt and spices. Like American bacon, pancetta does need to be cooked before serving. Often sold either in a roll or slab, pancetta is usually chopped and added as a salty bite to pasta, vegetable or egg dishes. Pancetta has a storage time of seven days in the fridge and four months in the freezer.
Vacuum Sealed Prosciutto Recipes
Though this cured ham is used in a wide variety of recipes, vacuum-sealed prosciutto is used in some popular dishes that don't require cooking at all. Prosciutto-wrapped melon mixes the salty flavor of ham layered over the sweet taste of honeydew. Vacuum-packed prosciutto also makes for an ideal addition to any cheese plate where the brisk, savory flavor can mix with soft, creamy, cheeses such as brie or hard, sharp, cheeses cheddar. Finally, layering a slice of prosciutto on a turkey, roast beef or egg sandwich adds a punch of flavor that will awaken your taste buds.
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