Istrian pršut: Unique dry-cured ham delicacy

By: Gurwoman

Croatia boasts with its excellent pršut, or dry-cured ham, which falls into two main categories: Dalmatian and Istrian. Both are equally delicious, but each is specific as the production and the final product differ. And yes, the word pršut itself originates from the Italian language, but the meat is not to be mixed up with the Italian prosciutto. Of course, Istrian pršut has protected geographical status and can be made only in continental Istria, in ideal climatic conditions, following the strict traditional method dating back centuries ago.

Apart from numerous technical details, its most prominent feature is that it is not smoked, only dry-cured and treated with sea salt or seasoned with some additional natural spices such as pepper, bay leaves, rosemary and garlic. Naturally, everybody has a secret recipe. Istrian is probably the only dry-cured ham in the world where the meat is dried with the skin removed, and a layer of pepper is used to protect it from going bad. The greatest natural ally in producing pršut is the famous bura – cold northern wind. It is dried for approximately 5 months and then left to age for another 12 months. The real stuff contains no nitrites or nitrates, so it’s one of the healthiest cured meat products and also suitable for people suffering from allergies.

Slicing pršut is somewhat of an art.

Proper way of slicing pršut seen in this VIDEO

The town of Tinjan and its surroundings are famous for many high-quality charcuteries specialized in superb Istrian pršut, which is why the whole area is nicknamed “the municipality of pršut”. Good enough reason for the biggest Istrian festival of pršut to take place in Tinjan every year at the end of October. Beside tasting all kinds of good pršut, not only from Istria, this event also offers a lot of fun, entertainment and local flavour.