The pigs used must be born, raised and butchered in Tuscany or in nearby areas in north or central Italy, and must be at least 9 months old before being slaughtered. The hams before processing must weigh at least 11 kg (about 24 pounds), and may not be frozen. The breeder’s tracing marks have to be tattooed on thighs of the pigs.
The raw ham is washed, then salted and let stand for about four months. Then the salt is washed off, then the ham is let dry, and age for another three months. Then the exposed part of the leg is smeared with a dry rub cure consisting of lard, a flour (wheat or rice), sea salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, juniper and other flavourings, which will vary by producer – some also use vinegar, fennel and wine. At this point, a seal is applied to each ham indicating when curing started.
The ham has to be aged for at least one year in total. Then, if it passes inspection, it gets its PDO approval allowing its sale.
In the mid 1900s, hams from elsewhere were brought into Tuscany, and just the finishing touches put on such as the pepper coating . Consequently, in 1990, the Tuscan producers set up a consortium (Consorzio del Prosciutto Toscano), headed in San Donato in Collina to stop the outside competition.
The consortium received a PDO for its product on 2 July 1996.