A horse bone needle is used to test prosciutto and other charcuterie because it absorbs and releases scents quickly, which helps in telling if there’s any spoilage, but you can use it again immediately. Add a sheath for extra protection.
Symbol of the master prosciutto maker, this horse bone needle, made from actual horse bone, allows you to check if the prosciutto has reached its right maturity through the Puntatura test. Thin, pointed, and very porous, it captures the internal aroma of prosciutto, or any other charcuterie, and transfers this to the expert nose of the craftsman. A must-have tool for true lovers of raw ham and other charcuterie!
What is a horse bone needle?
A horse bone needle is used to test prosciutto and other charcuterie as it absorbs and releases scents quickly, which helps in telling if there’s any spoilage, but you can use it again immediately. Each needle is hand-made and with a natural variation. As it is quite fragile, please do not insert it too hard or too deep and do not wash it.
How do you use a horse bone needle?
The word prosciutto, which translates to “ham” in Italian, is made only from the hind legs of pigs and is aged during a dry-curing process. The quality of prosciutto is based on the curing process, region, and strict quality controls during production. Curing prosciutto originated in Italy thousands of years ago and the ham is produced only using specially bred pigs, sea salt, air, and time. By law Prosciutto di Parma is cured for at least 400 days (starting from the date of first salting), and some may be cured for as long as 3 years. After that time has passed, an independent inspector pierces the ham (1 cm) in several locations (see below) with the ‘Osso ago di cavallo’, a horse bone needle, smelling it after each puncture to check for scents that may indicate any flaws or spoilage. A horse bone needle is used to test prosciutto and other charcuterie because it absorbs and releases scents quickly, which helps in telling if there’s any spoilage, but you can use it again immediately. The bone only requires a quick wipe on the apron in-between uses.
Olfaction analysis: example for prosciutto.
During the olfactory Puntatura test on prosciutto, the inspector pricks the meat with the horse bone needle to examine the scent and the dryness. The scent intensity of the lean part and the sweetness of the fatty part are tested. Prosciutto must have a slight scent of dried fruit, hazelnut, wood, and a slight smell of salt. The fatty part should have a sweeter smell. The prosciutto should also carry subtle hints of the area where it was seasoned. You shouldn’t smell any sour or bitter notes from the meat and unpleasant, pungent smells such as raw or rancid meat, or boar taint, are an indication of faulty processing, maturing, or poor meat quality. These parts can be sampled:
Tra corona e parte magra;
Nel fiocco sopra la noce;
Lungo la vena femorale o arteria Illica;
In una fossetta a sinistra della noce.
Buying a horse bone needle?
Order your osso ago di cavallo at startercultures.eu, the European webshop for all your fermentation, sausage, and charcuterie needs. By Meneer Wateetons, renowned Dutch fermentation and meat expert and author. Order on weekdays before 3 pm and we’ll ship the same day. Questions on the usage? Ask them in our chat, we’re here to help!
Add a sheath for protection
Protect your horse needle by keeping it in a sheath. Buy both and save 20% on the sheath. Add it below.
Online English spoken ‘how to make your own dry cured charcuterie’ workshop
Learn how to make your own whole muscle charcuterie from ‘Meneer Wateetons’, the author of the (dutch) leading work in this field: ‘Over Charcuterie‘. Cured ham, pancetta, guanciale, lardo, coppa and more delicious Southern European dried meat products will be covered. In this online English spoken workshop you will learn everything about salting, drying, maturing, vacuuming, smoking, temperature and humidity in 90 minutes, after which you will be ready to make your own charcuterie yourself, safe and tasty. Click here for more info.
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