Maturation



During maturation, proteolysis takes place, i.e. the meat protein chains split down to specific amino acids which are responsible for creating the taste of the ham. As the maturation - and the proteolysis - progress, the ham loses the typical characteristics of fresh meat acquiring texture, fragrance, taste, and aroma, and even becoming easier to digest. The proteolysis process must take place in keeping with precise terms and values, to avoid defects such as bitterness and "sogginess" appearing. For this reason, checks on the proteolysis index are exceptionally strict and frequent, and the maturation is much longer than average, ranging from a minimum of 15 - 16 months up to two, or even three years.

Time, humidity, temperature, percentage data... everything seems so evident and quantifiable. For this reason, some producers have tried to reproduce an ideal maturation environment by using computer-controlled air-conditioning systems. But maturation with natural ventilation is something else entirely: a delicate balance of temperature, humidity and air velocity which leads to the development of extremely sensitive yeasts and moulds which give quality hams their "character".

These micro-organisms make up a microflora, which develops on the lean part of the ham around its fourth month of maturation that goes hand in hand with aroma development. The microclimate which enables the microflora to flourish cannot be reproduced by purely air-conditioned environments. In order to guarantee perfect maturation, and continuing to prefer natural ventilation, at Galloni's there is still someone in charge of opening and closing the windows according to the position of the sun and the wind and the level of humidity.
In Galloni's third and newest plant, traditional architecture has once again been respected, with large windows looking perpendicularly down the valley so as to let the gentle air of the Parma river valleys flow through the large maturation cellars - that unique "ingredient" in obtaining prime quality Parma Ham.