Prosciutto has long been known as a cured meat that’s both a delicacy, and available to the public at large. Expensive, yes, but still most people can get a hold of it every now and then.
Since it’s such a premium, delicious food item, you’re naturally going to make the best of it. So letting ay prosciutto simply spoil because you forgot to eat it is out of the question.
But how long does prosciutto last ? That’s something a lot of people ask, and it’s worth knowing. Not only sliced prosciutto, but a whole leg should be discussed too. It’s not everyday you buy a whole leg of prosciutto, but when you do you want to know how long you can keep it.
This is what we’ll be discussing today, and going through the different types of prosciutto. Towards the end we’ll answer some prosciutto FAQ, so you have all the info needed to fully enjoy that delicious prosciutto.
How long does prosciutto last?
Sliced prosciutto will be good in the fridge for about 3-5 days, assuming you’ve opened the package. If you’ve bought an entire leg, then expect it to be good for about 7 to 8 weeks, as long as you keep it in a very cold pantry with low moisture.
Frozen prosciutto will be good for up to 2 months, if kept in an airtight container.
You can also freeze sliced and cooked prosciutto, and we’ll get to that in a moment. There’s no real need to cook prosciutto, as it’s meat that’s been cured and dried for 24 months. Still, if you want to cook it you can.
If you’re not sure what cooked prosciutto means, we’ll explain it shortly. There’s regular prosciutto, made from raw curd mead. And there’s prosciutto cotto, made from the same meat as regular prosciutto, but boiled and cured afterwards.
Now let’s get to how to store prosciutto so it lasts as long as possible.
Read also: 3 Differences Between Prosciutto, Pancetta, And Bacon
How to store sliced prosciutto
Storing prosciutto the right way will make it last for longer, or at least until you can get around to using it. We really recommend only keeping one pack of prosciutto open at any time, otherwise you’ll just have several packs going bad at the same time.
Sliced, unopened prosciutto
An unopened pack of prosciutto is good until the expiry date printed on the side or back. Be sure to check that. As long as you keep it in the fridge, the expiration date should be trusted.
We don’t recommend keeping unopened prosciutto on the counter, at room temperature. Always keep prosciutto, of any sort, in a cold pantry or fridge.
Sliced, opened prosciutto
If you’ve bought a pack of prosciutto and it’s been opened, it’ll be good for 3-5 days if you keep it in the fridge. Be sure to close the pack back as best you can. If you think it can’t be closed properly, put it in a Ziploc bag and close it well.
If you have to freeze it, you can. Just be sure to use an airtight container and don’t crowd the bag.
Cooked, unopened prosciutto
An unopened pack of prosciutto cotto should also be good until its printed expiration date. Cotto is usually short-lived compared to regular prosciutto.
This is definitely not something you should ever keep at room temperature. The same way you wouldn’t keep roast beef at room temp overnight.
Cooked, opened prosciutto
An unopened pack of cooked prosciutto is good for 3-5 days in the fridge. Just like ham, prosciutto cotto is cooked and then cured. It’s not dried though, so mold or bacteria may develop faster than on regular prosciutto.
How to store the entire prosciutto leg
If you’ve got an entire prosciutto leg, then storage is different. You probably don’t have enough room in the fridge for it.
You need to find the coldest room you possibly can. If you do have room in the fridge, use that. Make sure there is as little moisture in the room or fridge as possible. In a fridge that’d be difficult, since there’s always ice on the back panel.
A very well kept prosciutto leg should be good for up to 8 weeks. Assuming you’re keeping it continuously cold and dry.
However there is the entire discussion of using an entire leg. Unless you’re a restaurant or food-preparation service, you won’t go through an entire leg within the 8 week timeframe.
Most like likely it will go bad before you can even eat all of it. It might be better to simply have an extra, unopened pack of sliced prosciutto on hand.
How to tell prosciutto has gone bad
Prosciutto can go bad indeed, and there are a couple of signs you can notice. A bad prosciutto may have mold growing on it, especially the cooked version.
Discoloration is also important. A grey tinge, or worse green, can let you know the meat is definitely rotting. Be sure not to confuse this with the green-pink sheen some cured meats may have when sliced !
A funky smell might be hard to detect. After all prosciutto smells quite strong of cured meat, but it should never smell bad. It may have a little funky flavor, like Parmesan, but it should never make you want to stop eating and wonder if it’s bad.
So a bad taste or smell is a sure sign the prosciutto is off. An interesting point is the fat in prosciutto. In some cases the fat can turn rancid, and you’ll notice this if it starts to smell like you smeared dish soap all over it. Yes it’s a very specific smell and one you’ll definitely catch if it’s bad.
Is it safe to eat raw prosciutto?
Prosciutto is dry cured ham which means it was already dehydrated and made edible before being placed in packages. Thus, it is safe to eat the moment you buy it at the nearest grocery store.
We recommend pairing it with a mild cheese, or a good dry white wine. And if you’re still not sold on raw prosciutto, we’ve explained it in detail here.
Should prosciutto be refrigerated?
Yes, please be sure to refrigerate your prosciutto at all times. The reason why prosciutto should immediately be refrigerated is it will spoil incredibly quickly if you leave it out in open air. When you want to eat some, select a few slices and only leave those on the counter to get up to room temp, about 10 minutes.
What recipes can you make with prosciutto?
Some of the best prosciutto we know of is found on pizza. Yes, there’s room for prosciutto on pizza. Add a couple of sliced mushrooms and mozzarella and you’ve got a seriously delicious pizza.
You may also use prosciutto instead of ham in a pinch, so in some pasta types it will work well. Or use prosciutto instead of bacon ! Just remember that this a very thinly sliced meat, so don’t overcook it.
Why is prosciutto so expensive?
Prosciutto is expensive because it takes a log time to make. An entire pig leg is used to make prosciutto, and it must be cured and dried for two whole years. That’s an aged product that need careful attention, very much like Parmesan.
In act you can think of prosciutto as the Parmesan of deli meats. It’s aged, has a similar aroma, and is best when it’s the star of the show.
Prosciutto cotto is less expensive, as it can be done within a few months. So it will fetch a smaller price, but give you a less impressive flavor as well.
Why is prosciutto salty?
Prosciutto uses a lot of salt in its curing process. It draws out moisture and blood from the meat, making it less suitable for bacteria to develop. It’s a very good way of preserving meat.
If you find prosciutto too salty, try putting the slices in cold water for about half an hour. The salt will be drawn out. Not entirely, but the whole slice will have much less salt.
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What is the best way to eat prosciutto ?
We recommend eating prosciutto with a bit of mild cheese, grapes, or a good wine. A white wine would be better, as a red one would have too strong and dark a taste for prosciutto.
This meat works best when it’s the star of the show. This means that whatever you pair it with shouldn’t be very flavorful, so it won’t compete with the prosciutto.
Vegetables are always a welcome addition, like prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. Or pair it with broccoli, a summer salad, even something as bland as an eggplant can get instantly delicious with some prosciutto !
We found out that sliced prosciutto can last up to 5 days in the fridge while the entire leg will last for 7-8 weeks. You can also freeze prosciutto if you want to make it last longer but this can affect the quality of the meat.
I hope this article helped you and from now you know how to store prosciutto to get the best out of this delicious meat.