Here is a look (below) at a prosciutto di Parma style ham that is still in the process of maturing. I decided to take it down and wrap it in a new skein of cheesecloth after months of walking by it and being disgusted by the mold that was growing on the original wrapper. The mold was not anything that was going to contaminate the meat. But the ham was looking too much like something that one used to see in the subways of Manhattan during the Koch and Dinkins administrations or something in a Matthew Brady photo of civil war wounded.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating but it was seriously ugly and needed to be cleaned up. I estimate that it will be ready in 3-4 months.
Of course, now that the cold season is here and flies (and their miserable little flesh eating maggots) are no longer a threat, I could have done away with the cheesecloth altogether. But I chose to replace it because now that the air is very dry I'm hoping that the cloth will slow down dehydration of the meat enough to avoid over-drying of the "case" or first inch or so or surface muscle.
Also have a look at Mike Pardus' new horse bone needle (above, left and at the end of the slideshow). The needle is used to determine the grade of prosciutto via olfaction. When the bone, which is porous enough to absorb the aroma of the meat yet strong enough to withstand the pressure of insertion, is withdrawn from the prosciutto it is sniffed to determine if the meat is good enough to be a prosciutto di Parma or something less. I suppose that it could also be used to determine the degree of ripening in prosciutto and other types of salumi/charcuterie.
Not that I'll ever get a chance to use the thing since Pardus lives in NY and I live in Pennsylvania. But that's okay, just knowing that he would probably let me use it is good enough for me! :-)