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Perfect as an appetizer, delicious in a sandwich, heavenly in many dishes, presunto is the one deli meat we all should have at home. Presunto is the Portuguese word used to describe an uncooked, dry-cured ham. It is a fatty cut of meat that, when sliced thinly, has a sweet meaty flavour with a pleasant edge of saltiness, and a buttery texture that melts in the mouth.
Presunto is made from the hind leg of a pig. Once the leg is cleaned, it is heavily salted with sea salt and left for several weeks in a cool, dry environment. The salting process removes leftover moisture and creates an unique flavour. The legs are then hung in cool, humid rooms for 60 to 90 days. When the salt curing is over, the leg is washed, the salt brushed from the meat, and the ham is left to dry for 12 to 24 months in large buildings that capture and circulate breezes throughout the drying rooms.
In addition to the salting and air-drying, the amount of time presunto is allowed to age makes a huge difference. A young presunto is bright reddish pink, with a soft, moist texture and a sweet flavour. As it ages, it becomes drier and firmer, with a more refined, subtle, and complex flavour.
The best way to showcase the amazing flavour of a high-quality presunto is to slice it thinly and serve it as an appetizer with cheese, figs, ripe melon, jam, or toasted bread. However, presunto can also be used to cook. Presunto: a perfect balance of sweet and salty.