Salumi are a part of Italy’s ancient food heritage and the cultural expression of local traditions. Ancient Romans already had a weakness for ham, as evidenced in many documents. Through the centuries, production and consumption of Salumi became more and more important: from the Renaissance splendor, where cuisine rose to an art form with its sumptuous banquets to the nineteenth century, when the first artisanal food workshops and gourmet stores were established. In the twentieth century, artisanal products gave way to industrial production that respected and followed the old traditions of its origin. Intelligent use of modern technology ensured high-quality Salumi characterized by continuous improvements; at the same time, it preserved the cultural heritage and traditions behind these products.
The cured meats maturing process is essentially based on three interconnecting phases: the spreading of salt, the evaporation of water and the variation of acidity. The different preparation techniques are the basis of the division of these matured products into two large categories: those made up from whole anatomic fractions and those based on minced meat. Amongst the first group of matured ‘whole pieces’, we consider the various productions of prosciutto (one of the best known and widespread in Italy and throughout the world), culatello, coppa, pancetta, speck and bresaola, the latter being peculiar because it is made using beef, not pork. Minced meat-based matured products (i.e. salami), have different mixture recipes and maturing conditions also depending on size. After the preparation of the mixture, they are usually packed into natural or artificial gut casings and left to mature in appropriate thermo-hygrometric conditions.
The Italian deli meat industry developed in relation to the growing necessity to preserve meat. Italian production is today made up mainly of cured products prepared through salting and drying; but there are however,, some exceptions, such as for cooked (i.e. prosciutto cotto, mortadella, zampone and cotechino) or smoked(speck) products. Elsewhere, and especially in Mainland Europe, cooking, smoking or fermentation procedures in humid environments are widespread: these diversities are easily attributed to differences of a geographical, meteorological and cultural nature.