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real prosciutto...

 
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laxmaster



Joined: 23 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15 11 12:49 am    Post subject: real prosciutto... Reply with quote

if you look at prosciutto from italy, the only 2 ingredients listed are salt and pork. No nitrites/ates. In fact, many of the POD designations prevent these, or anything "unnatural", from being added.

My questions is, how are these prosciutto then safely cured? Are nitrates/ites naturally present in the sea salt that they use? Etc?

There needs to be an answer somewhere or Im sure this country wouldnt let proscittuo or other foreign dry cured products be imported as often as they are for consumption in this country... Thx, Paul
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patruns
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15 11 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prosciutto is cured, dried and aged in a controlled environment. Salt is a natural preservative and also draws out the moisture from the meat, which helps in preventing contamination. I'm sure the region (Parma) also has a lot to do with the resulting product starting with the land the pigs graze on and finishing with the air the meat is exposed to in the drying process. You can find much of what you want to know here: http://www.mmdtkw.org/VProsciutto.html
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laxmaster



Joined: 23 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15 11 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's great info. But nowhere is my original question answered regarding nitrates/ites...prosciutto was made for centuries before refrigeration so there needs to be an answer somewhere...
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tacklebox
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15 11 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

laxmaster wrote:
That's great info. But nowhere is my original question answered regarding nitrates/ites...prosciutto was made for centuries before refrigeration so there needs to be an answer somewhere...


Sure it was

patruns wrote:
Prosciutto is cured, dried and aged in a controlled environment. Salt is a natural preservative and also draws out the moisture from the meat, which helps in preventing contamination. I'm sure the region (Parma) also has a lot to do with the resulting product starting with the land the pigs graze on and finishing with the air the meat is exposed to in the drying process. You can find much of what you want to know here: http://www.mmdtkw.org/VProsciutto.html


The salt and time is the cure/preservative. Much in the way fish is dried (salt cod) or red meat (basic jerky), the nitrate/nitrite is not needed due to the presence of oxygen surrounding the meat during the curing period. The reason nitrates/nitrites are added is due to the smoking process. The low temperature and little to no oxygen during the smoking process can create a breeding ground for c. botulinum spores (think botulism-deadly eats). Prosciutto is a dry cured ham, not smoked, therefore it is never in a low oxygen environment, and C. botulinum cannot grow in the presence of oxygen.

Another important condition affecting the growth of Clostridium botulinum is the present of oxygen. These organisms can't grow if air or free oxygen is present in their microenvironment (the area immediately next to them).

From--->http://www.ext.colostate.edu/PUBS/foodnut/09305.html

I am far from an expert on this subject. Harry Nutczak is our go to guy on curing and the like, maybe a PM to him may answer your questions more thoroughly/safely.
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laxmaster



Joined: 23 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15 11 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you for your response the info wis always greatly appreciated...

However, my understanding is that salt in itself does not stop botulism, it is the salts job of removal of moisture from the meat which inhibits the botulism growth. Further, the salt does not do this instantaneously, and contrary to your email (please someone correct me if im wrong), there is no oxygen inside the meat during the cure process. Sure it surrounds the meat, but inside the muscle fibers, inside the meat, there is no oxygen and it is here where botulism can grow. In your example, Salt cod is cured so rapidly with so much salt that this is not a problem, but prosciutto takes months, much longer then cod for example.

It is my understanding that the initial curing and drying time are below or very near 40 degrees; and it is this frigid temperature that inhibits botulism growth initially. As the salt dries the prosciutto out, the lack of moisture within the meat is what continues to prevent botulism growth.

I am assuming we add nitrates/ites as an additional preventive measure just in case temps. rise above that 40 degree mark or the meat does dry completely in the time it needs to prevent botulism growth. I would greatly appreciate Harry Nutczak (GREAT NAME BY THE WAY) or another knowledgable foprum member confirming what i just said or rebutting it. Thank You all
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Jogeephus
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16 11 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right, salt itself will not impede the growth of botulism and the conditions used for curing meat are perfect conditions for the growth of botulism. It is the breakdown of the nitrite that impedes its sporing. Other things that will are water loss (less than 0.94 AW) and pH (less than 4.6) and temperature. Temperture needs to be less than 38F since some strains of botulism can do well at 40. Or heat. Keep in mind the temperatures are altitude dependent as well. But here lies the problem, it takes time to get the pH down and time to get the aw down and when something is growing exponentially then time is not on your side. Pork has an average pH of 5.5 - 6.2 and the lower pH pork is best for curing since it has a lower water holding capacity.

Cured fish is not exempt and has been a problem before since botulism was able to form under the skin. Check the USDA out for specifics.

LINK!

In summary, we have a very dangerous opportunistic organism that has proven itself to be tolerant to everything but nitrates and/or 10,000 psi of pressure. It has been proven nitrates are the ONLY substance that will stop its developement. But on the other side we have people saying its not safe and we should not use it because its a man made additive. They want to promote a natural organic alternative for various reasons - mainly money. They sometimes promote the use of organic grown celery nitrates because these are produced organically. This tickles me since nitrate free bacon has 3 mg/100 mg of nitrates in it however organic bacon cured by the anti-nitrate camps who use organic celery salts to cure bacon produce bacon with twice as much nitrate in them but get around this because the nitrate is in the salt and not added seperately so for some reason this is doesn't matter. FYI, celery curing salt has 50% nitrate by weight. That's ATE not ITE too. So after beating around the bush I'll try to answer your question by saying this. To make true "certified" parma ham you must make it in that region using local pigs and local inputs. During Homer's time salt containing nitrates were used to cure meats. The Romans learned how to cure meat from the Greeks and they made note that "this salt" would turn the meat a pretty red color which we all now know is attributed to nitrite. Nitrates/nitrites are formed the same way salt is and is more often than not found in the same locations. So in conclusion, the answer is in front of our face. What is the color of proscuitto? Is it a dull grey or black or does it have a nice pretty reddish color to it?

Can you cure ham with pure morton's salt? Yes as long as you keep the botulism spores off of it you should do just fine.

Here is another thing you may find of interest. Look at the impurities in the Italian sea salts and you will see its heavy in potassium nitrate and lower in sodium nitrate along with other impurities.

http://www.ingredientsgourmet.com/articles:encyclopedia/SEA%20SALT%20ITALY/
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patruns
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16 11 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am kinda at a loss as to what else you absolutely need to know. Salt is added and the meat is cured, dried and aged under controlled conditions. Nitrates are not added. Are you considering trying to reproduce prosciutto or is this some kind of science thesis? Yes, it was made before commercial refrigeration but there are natural occurring areas to be utilized such as caves and underground areas. Oktoberfest beer was made in the spring and stored in icy caves until the fall. Today, we use refrigerators to lager the beer in much the same way.
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laxmaster



Joined: 23 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16 11 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful, thanks for the great explanation. So basically they (in parma) really do only use salt and pork but their natural sea salt isn't as refined as ours thus containing natural ATES/ITES...and your right all prosciutto and Spanish jamon iberico is bright red so that color had to be caused by something...thx, Paul
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Jogeephus
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19 11 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes but our ites/ates are formed by nature as well so to say ours is not natural is misleading. Biggest difference is we know how much ite/ates we are using but as you can see, sea salt can be variable depending on many things.
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