The term “speck” first appears in Tyrol’s history in documents dated back to the 18th century. However, the word makes was first used under different names and definitions in the trade registers and butchers’ ordinance as far back as the year 1200. The term has its roots in the Middle High German word “spec” and the Ancient High German word “spek” and actually translates into “something thick, fat.”
South Tyrol’s history documents that South Tyrolean farmers originally cured speck to preserve the meat. The ham was intended for home consumption. Traditionally, pigs were slaughtered during the Christmas Season. The production of speck ensured that farmer’s had a supply of preserved meat for the entire year. The ham recipe was carefully guarded and handed down from generation to generation. The ancestral seasoning secrets from more than 100 years ago still give the speck its typical taste today.
Speck Alto Adige is in no way related to the standard fatty pork belly speck described by the common German term. Speck is the result of a combination of two methods used to preserve meat: the standard Mediterranean style curing process for raw ham and smoking, which is a process typically used in Northern Europe. As a result, a unique South Tyrolean ham was created based on the traditional rule “a little salt, a little smoke and a lot of fresh air.” Speck is an ingredient used in numerous typical South Tyrolean dishes, such as the South Tyrolean Speck Dumplings. In South Tyrol, this ham paired with bread and wine, is the main component in the genuine “Marende” – the typical South Tyrolean snack platter. Over the centuries, Speck Alto Adige has been continually upgraded and is now considered a star ingredient by many award-winning chefs.
To celebrate a piece of South Tyrol’s history, the Villnöss Valley hosts traditional South Tyrol Speck Festival