Does Prosciutto Need to Be Refrigerated?

Cured meats, especially prosciutto, will keep for a longer time if they’re kept in the refrigerator.

If you enjoy eating these foods and want to extend their lifespan, then you should keep them in the refrigerator.

Cured meat should be kept cool. If you’re putting it away for a long time, it should be kept in the fridge.

Most people think that prosciutto, when stored in the refrigerator, should be eaten within a few days.

That is not the case. Prosciutto, like other pork products, can be stored for up to three weeks.

However, if you plan on storing it in the fridge, please make sure you are using a product that has a vacuum seal.

Does prosciutto need to be kept in the fridge?

Although it’s reasonable to think that cured meats won’t go bad if they sit out for a long time, this isn’t always the case.

Whether prosciutto should be put in the refrigerator depends on many factors.

Manufacturing Process

prosciutto (2)

Prosciutto is made by salting, drying, and smoking (or curing) a piece of meat such as pork, veal, or lamb.

As the name implies, prosciutto is made primarily of pork but can include other meats.

The most popular varieties of prosciutto are from Italy, where it is made by the Parma ham producers.

Prosciutto has a particular manufacturing process. It begins with the cleaning and salting of the ham.

Then it is pressed to remove the blood and water, and then it is left to dry out for approximately two months. Salting is a crucial step in manufacturing prosciutto.

The salting process helps to remove harmful bacterial development inside the prosciutto.

The meat is then washed to remove any salt content. Now, this meat is transferred into a dark and ventilated area. It stays there until it becomes dry.

The length of time that prosciutto requires to be cured in a dry environment depends on the ham’s size and the climate.

The entire manufacturing process can take from nine months to three years.

Does Prosciutto Need to Be Refrigerated?

This is a very common question I get asked when talking about prosciutto.

Many prosciutto producers would say no, but it depends on your preference and what you want to do with the prosciutto.

Prosciutto is cured meat and, depending on how long you cure it, it can be very hard and dry.

If you want prosciutto to be more of a snack and not for cooking, refrigerating it will make it a little easier to cut.

If you are going to cook with it, however, I would recommend keeping it on your counter and not refrigerating it.

You could store it in the freezer, but I would only do that if you plan to eat it right away.

The answer also depends upon different factors. If you bought the pre-cut slices or whole prosciutto from the supermarket or you have prepared the prosciutto yourself.

Shop-bought Prosciutto

If you bought that pre-cut prosciutto from the grocery store, you’ll see the expiration date printed on the package. 

Prosciutto needs to be kept in the fridge. Usually, the expiration date is between 60 and 90 days.

However, this only applies to a package that has not yet been opened. If you’ve opened the package, it can be used for about two to three days after opening.

This is because the packaging is usually sealed so that the meat does not lose its freshness.

As there is very little to no moisture in the prosciutto the development of harmful bacteria is reduced.

But, after the time mentioned above, there is no guarantee that your meat won’t spoil.

The USDA recommends that you eat prosciutto within the two to three days after it is purchased, as it can get dry and moldy if stored past that time.

However, you can still buy pre-cut prosciutto at a deli, in which case, the expiration date is the same as for an opened package of prosciutto.

Don’t forget that this meat must be used within one year from purchase and kept at room temperature. It will taste much better if you refrigerate it and slice it up as needed.

If you plan to buy more than 10 pounds of ham, look for an all-natural, uncured ham with no nitrates or preservatives.

It’s okay if it has been stored for a couple of months at room temperature, so long as the quality doesn’t suffer.

Changing the wrap every week keeps the meat fresh.

Homemade prosciutto

If you haven’t cut the leg it is safe to keep your prosciutto at room temperature for about one year.

To prolong the life of the prosciutto, wrap it in tin foil or wax paper, and make sure that there is no air between the prosciutto and the plastic wrapping.

If you want to keep the prosciutto fresh, you can use rubber bands to make sure it’s airtight.

Once you have cut the prosciutto whether it is boneless or bone it is safe to safely consume within two months. This is when you keep the prosciutto in the refrigerator.

Spoilage Signs

First and foremost, if the prosciutto does not smell, taste, or look fresh, then it is spoiled.

Apropos of nothing, the only way prosciutto can spoil is if you leave it in the refrigerator too long.

Properly-cured prosciutto should have a light briny aroma, no moldy or musty odors, and a clean, firm texture.

You can also look at the following factors to check whether your prosciutto is spoiled or not.

Color: The fresh prosciutto is red or pink with white stripes on it. If your prosciutto is turning into a gray or dark color then your prosciutto has been spoiled.

Mold: If you notice any molds on your prosciutto then it’s time to throw it away. 

Smell: If you are a serious prosciutto lover you could sense the prosciutto by its smell. If you have noticed any changes in the smell it is a sign that your prosciutto is being spoiled.

Storage: If you have kept the opened prosciutto package for a long time inside the refrigerator then don’t consume it. Throw it away. It might go bad and make you ill.

How long does prosciutto last at room temperature?

You should take note that prosciutto made by prosciutto makers is well-made and well-preserved, and properly vacuum sealed it will stay nearly one year or sometimes even longer.

If you’re making your sliced prosciutto, then three days is the maximum allowed to prevent it from drying out.

Maybe only two days is acceptable, but even then you should wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it.


Dry-cured prosciutto needs to be stored properly. Although it dries out from the curing process, this doesn’t make it any less of a health hazard.

If not stored correctly or if it is stored too long, prosciutto can become unhealthy and cause all sorts of problems if you eat it.

Hopefully, all your answers got covered in this article. So now you can enjoy your prosciutto without worrying.

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