Call me naive, but isn't this essentially uncooked meat? Reading how prosciutto is prepared now, and I don't see any cooking involved, just salting, pressing, and letting sit, sometimes for years. Leaving food out for years at a time should make it accrue mold or etc.

Why doesn't it go bad, and why is it safe to eat? This isn't just for prosciutto, but soppressata, capicola, and more.

FWIW, these are some of my favorite things to eat in or accompanying a sandwich. I just don't grasp how they don't make you sick as raw meat would.

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    Having worked at a place that made our own cured meats, they do sometimes accrue mold.
    – SourDoh
    Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


Salting, fermenting and drying render these products safe. Always salting (including sodium nitrite, also known as pink salt) and always drying. This creates an inhospitable atmosphere for unsafe organisms. That would cover dried/cured meat products like prosciutto, pancetta or bacon. Most salumi are also fermented, which produces that pleasant, slightly sour taste...and further increases safety by creating an acidic environment.

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