The first historical documentation of the processing of this product dates back to the Dark Ages. Two “coppe” are obtained from the neck muscles of each pig, which are salted and flavoured with different spices, of which pepper, ground cinnamon, cloves, bay seeds and nutmeg. White wine from the local hills is also added to the mixture used for Coppa Piacentina PDO, while chilli pepper can be used in the Capocollo di Calabria PDO.
Coppa is prepared in a traditional way, a procedure that includes the following main steps. The meat is cut, cleaned and placed in contact with a specially prepared mixture of salt and herbs: black or white pepper, whole or crushed, a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and nutmeg. The salting procedure is of the dry type and it’s important to massage in the salt. This is followed by cold storage for at least seven days. Subsequently it is wrapped in pigs’ membrane , a totally natural membrane. The tying is a very special and characteristic operation as it is very cleverly done by crossing the string over an array of lumps of meat.
Once covered and sealed, coppa is dried in special drying kilns, where the temperature can fluctuate between 15 and 25° C and relative humidity goes from 40 to 90%, with constant ventilation. The product is left to dry for at least a week, until such time as its characteristic “blooming” causes the color to change to the well known characteristic pink. The maturing phase is the product’s final exam that lasts at least six months after salting, and again requires a strictly controlled environment, with a temperature between 10 and 20° C, and relative humidity between 70 and 90%. The end result is a compact dry product of about 1.5 kg.
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