Tag Archives: salumi

You say salami, I say salumi

By Vivian Farmer


CHIUSDINO, Italy– Salumi is the Italian term for any cured meat and boy-oh-boy does Italy have a lot. Drying meat is a way to preserve it for long periods of time and today the curing method is still used for the delicious unique flavors it draws out in meat.


Traditional salumi, starting with the white piece, clockwise: lardo, salame, capocollo, prosciutto and rigatino (also called pancetta). Photo by Vivian Farmer 

Salame–Perhaps the most well known salumi, salame is composed of different portions of pig meat mixed together. The salame made at Spannocchia is soaked in red wine to kill any bacteria and is then cured in a casing made of a pig’s small intestine. The longer the meat is aged the darker its characteristic red color will be. Garlic and black peppercorns are added to the meat to give it a rich flavor. Salame is good as a snack on bread with cheese or enjoyed all by itself.

Prosciutto–Prosciutto is usually the most expensive type of salumi due to its long curing time. Prosciutto is the back leg of pig that has aged for at least four years. To begin, each leg is packed in salt for two weeks, massaged, and then hung to age in a refrigerated area. Prosciutto is sliced thinly and can taste salty, herbal, or slightly sweet. It is often served wrapped around melon slices or as a snack on its own.

Lardo­–This salumi comes from the top layer of fat on the back of a pig. Spannocchia’s version is washed in vinegar, salted, and then cured for three months. Lardo feels slick in the mouth and leaves a buttery coating on the lips. Spannocchia adds rosemary to the thinly sliced fat to give it a distinct flavor. Lardo is often served with bread or as a pizza topping.

Rigatino–Also called pancetta, this dried meat is created from the belly of a pig. Spannocchia adds black pepper to its rigatino and ages it for about three months. Rigatino tastes fatty and rich with a deep meaty flavor at the same time. This meat is eaten as a snack or put into sauces for flavoring.

Capacollo–The meat used for this salumi comes from the nape of the pig’s neck. If used fresh, this meat is almost too tough to eat. However, in keeping with tradition in which no part of the animal is wasted, salumi makers cure it to soften and make it tender. Spannocchia adds black pepper and fennel to their capacollo and ages it for three to five months. Capacollo is eaten on sandwiches, bread, or alone.

salumi chart

Hand drawn map of salumi meat sources at Spannocchia. Photo by Vivan Farmer


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Filed under Chiusdino, heritage meats, MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism, Spannocchia

Nose to tail

By Elizabeth Johnsonimage-2

CHIUSDINO, Italy– The diagram started as a rough outline. Just a snout, two little ears, a big belly supported by four legs and a corkscrew tail. Looking at this sketch, many would see just that. A sketch of a pig. But here at Spannocchia, this sketch represents much more.

One by one, each part of the pig was circled and labeled. The face, the neck, the back, the lower belly and the hind legs. Each of these parts produces six very different, but equally delicious, meats. Today, our group of food writers had the pleasure of tasting each one.
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Jessica Haden, director of intern education for Spannocchia, encouraged us to feel and smell each piece of salumi, before we took our first bites. We started with the lardo, not to be confused with lard. This piece comes from the back fat of the pig. Pure white in color and tender, on a hot day this piece just seems to melt in your mouth.

Next came the pancetta. A piece taken from the lower belly that closely resembles an American breakfast staple. But unlike bacon, pancetta is neither smoked nor served in the early morning hours. Instead, it is peppered and cured to perfection – very different from the bacon back home, but just as tasty.

Then there was the capocollo. This is meat taken from the neck of the pig and enhanced with natural herb flavors.

Finally we arrived at everyone’s favorite part – prosciutto. The perfect combination of sweet and salty taken from the hind leg of the pig. The wonderful flavor of prosciutto and its longer curing process is reflected in its higher price.

The last two meats we tried, salame and soppressata, are on the more affordable end of the spectrum. They were mostly made up of leftover parts, such as the cheeks and smaller pieces of fat, and topped off with a peppery kick.

From nose to tail, each part was surprisingly delicious.

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Filed under Cinta Senese, MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism