Prosciutto is a delicious treat, originating from Italy. It’s a dry-cured ham, served sliced, and it literally means “to suck out the moisture”.
Maybe you’ve bought a dozen packets of sliced prosciutto on offer, or a bone-in whole prosciutto leg, or maybe even a vacuum-sealed de-boned leg of prosciutto.
Now you’re wondering: how long will my prosciutto last?
We’ve got you covered.
Below, we’ll cover how long each type of prosciutto will last, as well as the best storage methods.
Here’s the lowdown for those of you who want answers, fast: unopened sliced prosciutto lasts for 2-3 months in your refrigerator, a dry-cured prosciutto leg lasts for 6-12 months, and a de-boned prosciutto leg lasts for 6 months.
Prosciutto Storage Periods
How Long Does Sliced Prosciutto Last?
This is the type of prosciutto you’re most likely to have. Most grocery stores sell thinly sliced prosciutto in vacuum-sealed packaging.
This vacuum seal protects your prosciutto from the outside world’s air, bacteria, and moisture. Therefore, as long as your sliced prosciutto is unopened, it will last in your refrigerator for 2-3 months.
If your sliced prosciutto isn’t vacuum wrapped, or if you’ve opened it, expect it to last for 1-3 days in the refrigerator.
How Long Will My Dry-Cured Prosciutto Leg Last?
As a general rule of thumb, your dry-cured prosciutto leg will last 6-12 months. If you haven’t sliced it when it’s a year old, it will likely still be okay to eat for another few weeks longer.
However, to ensure you enjoy the best quality prosciutto leg, you should aim to finish it within 12 months.
Once you’ve opened the package and started slicing, the shelf life drops to just 2 months.
Plus, during that 2 months, you may need to cut off parts that are discolored or moldy, to prevent the bacteria from infecting the whole leg.
How Long Does Vacuum-Packed Prosciutto Leg Last?
Your vacuum-packed prosciutto leg is protected from bacteria, moisture, air, and other contaminants, so expect it to last 6 months, and maybe a little longer.
How To Store Prosciutto
How To Store Sliced Prosciutto
You’ll find sliced prosciutto in the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket, and that’s the same place you should keep it at home.
Once you’ve opened your packet of sliced prosciutto, wrap it up in cling film to protect it, and replace it in the refrigerator.
How To Store A Bone-In Leg Of Prosciutto
You need some kind of pantry, cellar, or cool room to store your bone-in leg of prosciutto.
Unfortunately, that means the kitchen isn’t a good shout, because it often gets hot due to cooking.
Heat is the enemy of prosciutto, so keep it away from any heat sources. If you live in a humid country, or you don’t have a cellar, you may need to store your bone-in leg of prosciutto in the refrigerator.
One last thing. Keep your prosciutto away from cheese, whatever type of prosciutto you have. Cheese changes the flavor profile of prosciutto.
How To Store A De-Boned Leg Of Prosciutto
A de-boned leg of prosciutto is usually sold vacuum-sealed, which means you should refrigerate it.
Just like sliced prosciutto, wrap it in plastic wrap once you’ve opened it, and change the film every 5 days.
How To Tell If Your Prosciutto Has Gone Bad
How you store prosciutto changes depending on which type you have.
Thankfully, telling if your prosciutto has gone bad is the same across the board.
First off, check the vacuum seal of the packaging. The seal acts as a barrier between your ham and the outside world, so any damage to it means your prosciutto has likely gone bad, and you should proceed with caution.
The next thing you should check is the expiration date. Unlike other foods, you should never eat prosciutto pasts its expiration date.
Other than that, you should look for discolorations, which are likely to be green, blue, or gray. Don’t worry if you see the white ribbons, though – they are ribbons of fat.
If you notice a sour smell that’s different from the usual, that’s a sign that your prosciutto has gone rancid. That’s when the fats in your prosciutto react with the air, causing the fats to oxidize.
Rancidity isn’t dangerous, but it makes your food smell and taste bitter, so discard rancid prosciutto for quality purposes.
Lastly, if you notice slime across the surface of the meat, you should also chuck your prosciutto.
The Summary: Prosciutto
How long your prosciutto lasts depends on how well the product was stored before you purchased it, how you stored it, and the type of prosciutto.
Expect dry-cured prosciutto leg to last the longest out of all of your options, and thinly sliced prosciutto to last the least.
And remember: opening or slicing your prosciutto will significantly reduce its storage life. That’s because you’re allowing more air and bacteria to reach the surface of the meat.