FRESH THIGHS’ DELIVERY


The thighs that arrive in the ham factory are subjected to a strict control carried out by the front desk manager, which involves performing the following procedures:
– aesthetic control of the thigh
– temperature control (0 to 3 degrees)
– verification of the tattoo that identifies the breeding ground
– EEC mark verification identifying the slaughterhouse of provenance
– verification of the thigh identification code applied by the slaughterhouse

SALTING


The art of preserving meat using salt was transmitted to our ancestors from the Celts: around the second century. B.C. a large numbers of them took refuge in our Apennines turned by the Romans from the Po valley. Our people testify this descent in their spoken and constitution and above all in knowing how to breed pork and tan its flesh. It is for this reason that, over the years, in Cà Dante we decided to keep this tradition and want to store our precious thighs using only sea salt and natural flavors without any kind of chemical preserving agents.
Salting is entrusted to the expert hands of our maestro salatore who knows the exact amount of salt to be distributed on each thigh: then the natural process of osmosis acts, allowing the salt penetrates the meat and preserves over time…

DESALTING


Operation performed at the end of the season phase (its duration depends on the thigh size; it varies from 17 days per kg 10/12 thighs to 19 days per kg 12/15 thighs). It is carried out with automatic machines (desalinator) that remove the salt from the surface of the ham through air blowers, which bleed (“spremivena”) through hydropneumatic adjustable and hydraulically controlled rollers and massage (massaging machine) through a set of variable set-up rollers. Weight loss after the salting process is normally comprised between 3 and 4% depending on working conditions and raw material. When salting is right the color of muscle masses is greenish gray, with a feeling of transparency that glimpses, below a reddish color.

GROOMING


It includes the hip reduction operation and meat fractions removal around the head of the femur, in order to facilitate a proper dehydration in that area and to make the surface of the ham smooth for an easier lard’s application at a later stage. The grooming operation takes place during the desalting operation.

REST


The rest operation follow the season phase, during which the hams, released from surface salt, remain in cold storage at controlled temperature and humidity for a sufficiently long time, necessary for good water loss and an adequate salt distribution throughout the thickness of the piece. The aw level (the water activity term is used to express the degree of instability of the microbial activity. In pure water aw is equal to 1) decreases throughout the entire seasoning process, mainly because of the spread of salt from the surface to the inside of the product and the water evaporation from the muscle mass.

WASHING


Removal with the aid of lukewarm water (40/45 degrees) sprinkled on the product through a series of nozzles.

DRYING


The washed hams, must be put in the fixed plants drier to avoid differences between the first and the last introduced. When the charge is completed, the heating phase begins: the more the internal temperature of the product increases, the more the room temperature is increased as well. The drying phase usually lasts 5/7 days, during which the weight loss is about 1-2%.

SMEARING WITH LARD


After facing an arduous path made of cold and dry air, the thigh is ready to face the slow curing process.
Seven months have gone by and our thigh now meets the man’s warm hands dispersing the correct quantity of “sugna” on the part not covered by the rind; this allows the hams to move on the next year keeping the same softness…
The “sugna” is a paste consisting of a undisclosed mixture of lard, spices and flavorings whose receipt is a secret of Cà Dante.. it is like the liquer for the fine wines.

MATURING IN CELLAR


Insiders like the word “cellar” because it is not a simple room on the lower ground floor.
“The cellar” is a magical place, where time seems to stop … perhaps because its air is filled with the scent of the hams for at least one year.
The “aging of the house-made ham” always occurred in this cool and humid place, where the noble cut of the pig was kept and taken care of secretly, like a child, as long as necessary to make it precious.
This is the reason why we wanted to dig the ground where once it used to be a vineyard. We dug and dug to achieve the natural humidity and to set the suitable environment to receive our hams for at least four seasons.
In the cellar our hams acquire a soul that surfaces into a fine powder of amber color: “the ruffino”. It reproduces and settles naturally on the floor where small quantities of it accompanies the ham throughout its journey. The micro-climate will blossom delicate flavors and intense colors evolving in symbiosis with the time passing…

BRANDING


Many people do not know that a Modena ham have to be “pierced” by a porous bone (that is purely a dried horse tendon) in order to be branded.
Different quality controls made by strict and competent people, are carried out to obtain a protected designation product; the audit ensure the origin of raw materials, their traceability and compliance with the Production Specifications.
At the end of this path, when at least a year has gone by, the Consortium inspectors conduct a careful olfactory sampling analysis using the so-called “needle”: this procedure ensures that the ham has reached the required quality standards: only the best hams will bear the mark entrusted to Cà Dante: 94 PM!
This is why we are proud to be part of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Modena, a “family of producers” sharing the values of quality, transparency and respect for tradition …