Friday, August 29, 2014

Prosciutto Crudo

photo 1Oh my, it’s been a while since a last posted something here. I haven’t stopped making stuff, I’ve just been making stuff which I’ve already posted about, like coppa and bresaola. So I didn’t think it was worthwhile to post them.
But now, finally, I’ve made something new. A whole, bone in prosciutto crudo. Don’t think prosciutto needs any introduction, but just in case, basically it’s  a whole real hog leg salted and then dried. I didn’t have veyr high expectations for my outcome, given it was my first try with a prosciutto. I followed Craig Deihl’s advice on salting time and general process.
In this case I used a rear leg of an American Guinea Hog, a small heritage breed hog from Carolina Heritage Farms. This is a great breed for home curers as they are only about 100lbs fully grown.
Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.16.08 PM

As you can see from the recipe above, it’s exceedingly simple. Just salt in the cure. You can count on the quality of the pork coming out in this.
photo(1) Here’s the hog leg, removed from the body. I cut through the hip, leaving the aitch bone in as recommended from Craig Deihl to avoid removing any more meat than necessary, given how small the leg is already.
The femoral artery was well massaged to make sure to get all the blood out. A video of that operation can be seen in my culatello post.
    20130309-IMG_1687 The hog leg ready for salting. Trimmed up and artery milked.
20130309-IMG_1690 The leg was rubbed and covered with the salt. 3.5% and was then bagged for equilibrium curing. The leg was left in the fridge for 35 days. It was flipped and massaged every so often.
20130415-IMG_1790 After the 35 days it was rinsed and soaked in water in the fridge for 24 hours.
20130513-IMG_2265 The leg was then put into the curing chamber for a month to start drying out.
It lost about 9% of its weight after a month uncovered in the chamber.  (Edit: Mar 30, 2017 - In hindsight, this wasn't really enough loss before larding. The meat was still a bit too wet, delicious, but not quite right. I should have let it lose about 20% before larding)
photo After a month it was wiped off with vinegar and water to clean off any molds and covered with the sugna, which is a lard/rice flour/pepper paste. This slows the drying and protects the meat.
Make really sure any exposed meat is covered and all cracks and crevices are filled.
20130513-IMG_2267 Prosciutto stuccato (prosciutto to which the sugna has been applied) hung.
photo 1 After 18 long months the prosciutto is ready. The plan was to cut this at 12, but for various reasons it aged 18. That can only be a good thing really. Assuming no rot at the bone (unknown until cut or skewered with horse bone, shown in picture), or assuming I didn’t oversalt.
A couple skewers with the horse bone promised well. The aroma was great.
photo 2 After cutting through a rather substantial fatcap we finally hit the meat.

The meat is a dark ruby red, very very moist. Much moister than I would have thought after 18 months of aging.
photo 3 Upon tasting this my mind was blown. There is no point even describing it because words wouldn’t do it justice.
The salt level is perfect, very low, making the prosciutto very sweet. It does not taste like a Parma prosciutto, it’s much much closer to a Jamon Serrano Iberico in flavor. It has that “funk”.
Upon trying it I immediately contacted Gra’ to procure another leg and get it going ASAP.

It’s truly a masterpiece. It’s, BY FAR, the single best piece of cured meat I’ve made.

103 comments:

  1. That is spectacular! I actually started curing meats a long time ago based on your blog to get my home curing box ready. Today we run a small charcuterie and bacon company in Philly. Was just thinking of doing my first prosciutto too and this inspired to to go ahead and order it!

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  2. You'll forgive, I hope, the probably silly questions of a newbie, but I don't see any pink salt or other particular preservatives in the recipe. Is it just normal table salt (or perhaps non-iodized salt, or something) you used? I've long wanted to try similar stuff myself.

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  3. Perhaps you'll forgive a second comment, as well, simply because (once again!) I forgot to check the "email follow-up comments" box the first time around.

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  4. joshua, there is no nitrate in this. Traditionally there is no need, and for whole muscles it's not strictly necessary, as long as you know the quality of the pork and the supply chain.

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  5. I used standard kosher salt, non-iodized.

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  6. Jason, that is truly wonderful. It looks (and no doubt tastes) like you've been curing prosciutto your whole life. No doubt the quality of ingredients and your attention to detail is what made the difference. Well done and enjoy it.

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  7. hi,

    I'm fascinated by your post because we raise Guinea Hogs and I've had exactly zero luck curing the legs. Each one has ended up infested with bugs. Did you keep it in the curing chamber for the entire 18 months?

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  8. If bugs overtook your prosciutto it has to do with your environment, not the breed of pig.
    Sounds like you're drying in an area exposed to bugs. Address that.

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  9. Jason, how many pounds was this leg when you started?

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  10. I think I calculated it at 10 pds?

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  11. Hi, my pig leg is defrosted and ready for salt. This pig has been skinned, and there are places where the careless butcher cut away the cap fat but fortunately not into the meat. I see that you pig had skin on and just the exposed area are covered with the lard once when it is ready for that stage. In my case, will I be applying lard to the entire leg ? Any guidance is greatly appreciated!

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  12. I would still only apply the larding to the exposed meat and rely on the layer of fat to protect the rest. I'm not really sure how it'll turn out unfortunately.

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  13. What is the best temp for the frig to be set at for the 35 day cure please?

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  14. Thanks Jason, hmm that's too bad for me. Are you able to explain to what I may run into due to the skinless leg?

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  15. the fridge is at fridge temperature. 34-39 degrees F.

    the skin slows the drying process, so without it'll likely dry more quickly.

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  16. So not so much affecting duration of the cure then Jason? Thanks! When it is time to lard it should I use my lovely home rendered lard from this Bershire pig, or store bought low grade?

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  17. Hello Jason.

    Richard Lowe in Los Angeles here. We've chatted back and forth a bit over the past few years, but not for some time.

    If you remember, when we last spoke it was at the onset of my latest curing project, and now those hams are set to come out of the curing chamber this weekend, after a 3 year cure.

    This is my second round of hams I've produced. The 1st batch were 2 year olds, and turned out surprisingly well.

    Success or failure is only realized, once you make that 1st slice. The anticipation is nerve-racking as you probably know 1st hand.

    Wish me luck.

    P.S. Your Jamon has some really nice color and marbling.

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  18. use the good stuff valerie.

    thanks ricardo...glad your 2 year hams worked out!

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  20. Cool blog Jason - thanks for taking the time - I have a leg ready to go, looking at the calculations, I'm thinking of assuming ~10% bone mass - I've noticed, too you've used 3.0% in some recent recipes - any thoughts? Thanks!

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  21. i went with what Craig Deihl recommended...i didn't account for any bone mass.

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  22. What is the purpose of the 24 hour soak in water? How do you determine how long to soak it for. Thanks

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  23. I was told by Craig deihl that it's to give the surface a little extra moisture to resist over drying in the next phase.

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  24. Thanks for the great blog - How long do you soak the prosciutto for after the 35 day cure. Is it for 24 Hrs. or do you soak and then put it in refridgeration for 24 hrs

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  25. Soaking in water means completely submerged?? for 24 hrs

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  26. I think I had the top of the leg ( trotter area) out if the water if i remember.

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  27. Dear Jason
    I follow your wonderful blog for sometime.
    I am just finishing a Coppa and of course I do hope to do a Prosciutto di Parma or a Jamon Serrano in the future.
    Congratulations,
    Alexandre Mello
    from Rio de Janeiro Brazil

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  28. the fridge was at 35F, not 55F, like a standard cure?

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  29. The soaking was done Ina normal fridge.
    Thanks Alexandre.

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  30. Hi Jason,
    Did you dry the leg for the 18 months in the curing chamber the whole time? or did you remove it at any stage to 'air dry' in the house / outside?
    Thanks for the great blog.
    Cordell

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  31. Hi, I love your blog and cured pig parts! I've curing prosciuttos for a number of years and struggle with constancy in the sunga. Do you render the lard, add the rice flour, then refrigerate?

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  32. The lard I used was rendered and room temperature. Mixed with rice flour and applied.

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  33. Hi Jason,

    not sure if my previous comment posted - just wanted to check if there is a rule of thumb for how long you cure for based on weight? My raw prosciutto weighs 9kg so i assuming it will need longer than 35 days?

    thanks

    tom

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  34. tom, see my post on equilibrium curing. my last prosciutto was about 11kg and i did 40 days equilibrium cure

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  35. Many thanks sir - to echo various others, i love your blog, its been really useful for me and has helped me to produce some great products. Ive got 4 different Coppas curing at the moment all with different cures,one of which is completely off the wall so i'll let you know how it goes.

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  36. another question and unrelated to prosciutto. I'm curing a tuna 'chain' and using standard 3% / 0.25% mix along with some spices. As it is for a mojama style cured tuna it will need to be in cure a while but wondering if you have ever cured fish and how its stacks up against meat for curing time. I cold smoke a lot of trout and usually cure them for 24hrs pre smoking but as this is more akin to a ham i'm taking a punt on how long it will need to be in cure for.

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  37. haven't cured any tuna, so i can't really say.

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  38. is hanging the leg absolutely required and if so, why? I've just started the drying process today and have the leg laying horizontally for the meantime.

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  39. I think as long as air can access all around the ham and you move it regularly on the rack, it'll be fine.

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  40. Good to know -- thank you. I'll keep moving it around in the meantime and will hang eventually.
    I have a two-part question regarding temp and humidity.

    Currently, I only have access to 1 fridge -- I'm able to keep temps at 46-50 F range (47 F avg) and humidity between 50-75% (65% avg). What problems do you see arising from an avg of 47 F and 65% humidity? Thoughts?

    Also, the humidity fluctuates within 50-65% **constantly**, every time the fridge cycles, H% bounces off the lower range -- does the constant fluctuation in humidity cause any issues?

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  41. The temperature isn't much of an issue, though it's a little low. It'll just take longer for flavors to develop as enzymes work more slowly. The humidity is a little low. It may dry to quickly. Try to get it up to 70-80% if you can.

    fluctation isn't a huge issue but 50% is pretty low as a low point.

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  42. Ok -- great to know, thanks again.

    Well, in terms of humidity, I've increased the low point but that also means the high point increased as well. The new range is 60-88% humidity:

    Time Humidity
    20% 60-70%
    55% 70-80%
    25% 80-90%

    What exactly happens if humidity is too high (above 80% H)?
    Also, how do you know the leg is doing "well" as time passes?

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  43. if the humidity is too high your drying rate will slow down, which isn't necessarily a good thing, but you might also get some unwanted molds.

    Without a bone needle to poke the leg, there is really no good way that i know of to know if the ham is coming along. That's the risk.

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  44. Got it. I make it an effort to decrease humidity and maintain within appropriate range.
    I've tested the risk of growing black/green mold in my fridge by leaving a high sugar content gelatin mix in my fridge for a few weeks and sure thing... my fridge is able to harbor plenty of mold.

    Do you think it's beneficial to introduce penicillium mold to the leg at this stage? I also believe the leg has a bit too much meat exposed (butcher trimmed plenty of skin/fat). Thank you.

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  45. No mold on prosciutto. After the leg has lost about 20-25% of its weight, you apply the larding to protect the exposed flesh.

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  46. If the meat at the bottom of the leg (under the aich bone) forms deep cracks of about 3" of more, would you apply sugna/larding inside the cracks to cover all exposed meat or OVER the cracks to seal things in?

    Another option is pressing the leg together to close the cracks...?
    Leg has been air drying for 54 days.

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  47. i would cover it in sugna i think

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  48. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  49. I have a leg in fridge in vacuum sealed bag @ ratios you have listed - it has been 35 days, still liquid in bag, it all hasn't been soaked back up yet (about 1 cup's worth).... any experience on something like this? Thinking wait another week - the question is also, drain, or open bag up to let it dry...thanks for any thoughts!

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  50. Hi Jason, is there particular thickness of the sugna you look for when applying it to the exposed meat?

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  51. No particular thickness. Just a nice even coat. I'd guess 1/8" thick or so. Definitely more than just a smear.

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  52. Hi, great write-up! I have 2 questions about sugna. #1, do I apply it to just the meat or to that fat as well?

    #2, is there a recipe for sugna you like?

    Thanks!

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  53. DAn, teh sugna is applied mostly to the meat, feathering onto the fat.

    The sugna recipe is in the post.

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  54. Thanks. I somehow overlooked it! I know I saw it previously, but could not find it again. Thanks again

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  55. Please someone help me....last yr. I was busy taking care of my father, and my friend tended to my prosciutto. ... it's rock hard... what can I do

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  56. Please someone help me....last yr. I was busy taking care of my father, and my friend tended to my prosciutto. ... it's rock hard... what can I do

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  57. Not sure what you can do. Slice it thin and eat it, or cook with it?

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  58. Do you remove the aich bone for prosciutto and how far up the leg do you trim away skin?
    Thankyou Scott

    P.S. A great blog

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  59. normally the aitch bone is removed, but in this case the leg was so small i didn't want to waste any meat

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  61. Hi Jason ,, inspired by your post I set about curing several legs in our July winter here in Oz.
    Although an amazing sweet smell & great texture , taste is over salty . I used the 3.5% equilibrium method which have used on smaller cuts in the past with success.
    My question is since they have only aged 4 months , will they loose saltiness overtime or will the salt intensify over time generally ?

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  62. as the prosciutto dries it'll lose more water and the salt will intensify.

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  63. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  64. Is it ideal to use a wine cuvee for curing? It's all wood inside but seems like it would work really well.

    Any thought?

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  65. assuming it's wood that can withstand 70-85% RH and you can hold temperature and humidity it'll work perfectly.

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  66. The cuvee held temp around 58-60 degrees and 70% humidity BUT the leg rotted after a month in the chamber.

    Sad for me and the pig.

    Gonna try again.

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  67. If it rotted something went wrong in your salting. 60 degrees while a little high wouldn't cause it to rot.

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  69. Jason,

    Thanks for putting this blog up. Great information. I have two more questions after reading through all your content and all the q and as. When you put the pork leg in a plastic bag all salted up, is the plastic bag vacuum sealed or simply closed or melted shut with as much air removed from it?

    Second question: when all salted and sealed in the plastic bag, you stick the whole leg in a fridgerator with temperatures ranging between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit or must it be cooler like 45 to 50? I feel I've read some conflicting numbers and facts throughout the site.

    Thank you again and hopefully I can share a photo of a successfully made Texas prosciutto or jambon.

    Sincerely,
    Sammy

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  70. The bag is just closed up, and turned every so often.
    The salting occurs at regular fridge temps. 33-38 degrees. The second phase of salt redistribution can occur at curing chamber temps.52-58 or so.

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  71. Jason, not sure if you're still checking here but did you ever add salt during the curing phase?

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  72. No, i add all the salt at the beginning and that's it. No additional salt.

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  73. Jason , I notice many recipes recommend salting the leg twice.
    Initial salt then re salt after 7 days. Have you any thoughts on why this method is used or what benefits it could produce.?
    I believe Craig Deihl does the same , Parma also describe the method in their making of ParmaCrown .

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  74. ADding it in 2 phases maybe allows you to be sure it's all being absorbed rather than falling to the bottom of the bag? I'm not really sure.

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  75. So I've had legs hanging for ~12-18 months (2 legs) - while on vacation the chilling unit went out - so the legs saw 70F / ~99% RH, leading to mold , mostly on the sugna, green and white. Are they garbage?

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  76. i they were already 12-18 months old, i would expect they're perfectly fine. Many hams, spanish and southern american, go through a summer "sweat" by design.

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  77. Today i decided to try do it. Thank you for this article!
    Here is nice headhunting company for everyone. Check it to hire an ICT professional.

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  78. Hi my leg has been curing for 3 days now and there is lots of liquid brine in the bag.do I keep it or should I discarded? Thx

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  79. If you're equilibrium curing keep the brine or your salt % will be off.

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  80. hi jason, i have tried a proscuitto following your method in this blog. i have salted and dried my leg of ham and applied the sugna a week ago. this morning i noticed some cracking in the sugna, why do you think this would happen?

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  81. I have a question on making prosciutto.
    I'm working with a 21 lb leg. It was in 3.5% EQ for 50 days under weight.
    Soaked in water for 24 hours than hang in my garage at @40F for 3 days
    Today I started to smell a bit of funk.

    Is that normal?

    I repacked in a bag, put it under weight and hoping that if I leave it for an other 30 days it will be fine.

    Any thoughts?

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  82. I guess it depends on what you mean by "funk". It shouldn't smell rotten or sour or
    Nasty. It can smell funky in a good meaty way. Really hard to describe smells especially "funk". I'm not sure I can help. 3.5% salt for 50 should be properly cured.

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  83. Thanks,
    I guess I would say it wasn't pleasant.
    The skin surface was kind of tacky too.

    There wasn't much airflow as it was hanging.

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  84. Oh. There should be airflow to allow the skin to start drying. You can try rinsing the whole thing in vinegar then water and hanging somewhere where air can get to all sides. See if it still smells after that.

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  85. Will leave it in salt for an othe 30 days to be sure, than rinse with vinegar and hang with a fan going.
    Thanks

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  86. No fan needed as long as air can get all around it.
    Putting it back in salt is going to make it too salty most likely.

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  87. I have a feeling that that last 24 hour soak got it going the wrong direction.
    The skin was tacky after 3 days.

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  88. So I had the prosciutto back in salt for a couple of days. Rinsed, but didn't soak it and hang it to dry.
    No smell :)
    I think we are in for a tasty treat in about 18 mo

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  90. You left it like a lot more time than cullatello, would you say thats the reason it is better? or the prosciutto process itself (the sugna, the skin, the bone, etc.) makes some difference also?

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  91. The skin and the sugna really slow down the drying which allows it to
    Go longer than a culatello.

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  92. Wonferfully clear page, thanks. I do ,however, have a question. You indicate that the sugna is applied as soon as it has been cured, lost about 9% of weight. One of your answers
    Jasonmolinari said...

    No mold on prosciutto. After the leg has lost about 20-25% of its weight, you apply the larding to protect the exposed flesh.
    June 26, 2015 at 10:47 AM
    says otherwise. ¿Could you please clarify?
    Thank you so much.

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  93. You're right tpaul. I should have clarified. When i made this, it lost about 9% before i applied the sugna. I found this to be a bit too little and the meat was a bit too wet.
    My next prosciutto i let it lose about 20% and it was perfect. I will update the post.

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  94. Question on the bag. I picked up a leg and after taking the skin off part of it and trimming, I got it to 22.2 lbs. I didn't have a bag large enough so I put the salted leg in the bag that it came in, then a "clean" unused garbage bag over it in the opposite direction, and then another "clean" unused garbage bag over that in the opposite direction.
    How did you seal loosely seal your bag and/or what bags did you use?
    Do you think it's ok sitting in the bottom of my garage fridge this way or do you recommend I buy larger bags that I can heat seal or vacuum seal?
    Thanks in advance!

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  95. as long as the bag doesn't leak, it should be fine.
    I used a big trash bag if i remember

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