Parma ham is produced in the Parma region of Italy (Emilia Romagna). San Daniele ham, however, is exclusively made in the Municipality of San Daniele del Friuli. This gives both of them the DOP label, meaning, that all the production, transformation, and processing of the product takes place in this specific area.
You can recognize a Parma ham from a San Daniele ham, as there is no trotter in Parma ham, but there is in a San Daniele ham. Therefore, Parma ham has a rounded shape and San Daniele ham is shaped like a guitar. The colours are different from each other as well. Parma ham is pinkish in the lean part and white in the fat. San Daniele ham has more of a red colour with some thin streaks of white fat. There is less fat in the San Daniele as the trotter keeps draining the fat and liquids.
Both Parma ham and San Daniele ham follow a specific curing procedure. For Parma ham, after being processed, the legs of the ham are left to rest for 60 to 90 days. Afterwards, they are hung for six to seven months. Lastly, they are cured for at least 12 months. Some Parma hams can even be cured for three years. The area of production of Parma ham is humid and quite foggy, which is why it needs a little more time to mature. The process is a little different for the San Daniele ham. Once the ham has been processed, there is a pressing phase which lasts 24 to 48 hours. Then, the ham will age for at least 13 months.
The flavour of Parma ham is different from the San Daniele ham as well. For example, San Daniele hams are salted for less time than the Parma hams, and this is why they develop a sweet and delicate flavour. Parma ham is less sweet, and much saltier, compared to the San Daniele ham; it has a distinct sweet and nutty flavour.
But how do you pair these hams? Parma ham should be paired with fruits like melon or figs, fresh cheeses like buffalo mozzarella, burrata or Parmigiano Reggiano, and with breadsticks. It is often used as the filling of tortellini as well. San Daniele ham can be used in many recipes, and it can be combined with fruits like melon, figs, grapes, or pineapple. It can also be eaten with some bread, as a snack.