Mortadella Bologna PGI

Mortadella Bologna PGI

Product Charasteristics

Mortadella Bologna PGI is a cylindrical or oval-shaped cured meat that is made exclusively with pork. It has a pink colour and an unmistakable, intense, lightly spiced aroma.

The cuts of meat that are used are carefully selected and minced. Striated-muscle meat is used for the lean part (pink colour), which is mostly obtained from the shoulder. The more compact and valuable parts of the pig are used for the lardons (white colour), such as the fat found in the throat, as required by the product specifications. The small cubes of fat give this cured meat its characteristic sweetness. It consists predominately of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are the best type for the body.

The following ingredients can also be used:  pigs’ stomachs with the mucous removed, hard pork fat, water, natural flavourings (with the exception of smoked flavourings), herbs and spices, pistachios, sugar (a maximum dose of 0.5%), sodium nitrate and/or potassium at a maximum dose of 140 parts per million, ascorbic acid and its sodium salt.

Mechanically-separated meats cannot be used (a technique where meat residues are physically removed from the bones once the most valuable cuts have been removed, leading to the loss or modification of the muscles’ fibrous structure).

Mortadella Bologna PGI

The Consorzio Mortadella Bologna (Mortadella Bologna Consortium) was officially established in 2001 and brings together the major producers of this fabulous cured meat. Its main statutory purposes are protecting, promoting, valuing and looking after the interests of the Mortadella Bologna product. This includes activities that seek to develop the amount of information available and the nutritional aspects of the protected product, whilst respecting the identity and expertise of each producer. In other words, it guarantees that the Mortadella Bologna PGI product is the following: safe and guaranteed thanks to the checks carried out, high quality because it is produced using a simple, authentic and traditional recipe, produced in Italy and, finally, that it has a captivating, recognisable and characteristic aroma.


Mortadella Bologna has a centuries-old history and is unsurprisingly considered to be Bologna’s most famous traditional cured meat. The origins of the Mortadella Bologna PGI can be traced back to ancient Etruscan Felsina and the Gallic Boii’s Bononia (the Etruscan and Roman names for Bologna respectively): a land filled with oaks that provided tasty acorns to the numerous local, wild and domesticated pigs. This extraordinary, internationally renowned cured meat could only have been invented in a place where many pigs roamed free.

There are several different hypotheses regarding the origin of the name Mortadella:

1) The Archaeological Civic Museum of Bologna preserves the first evidence of what is believed to have been a Mortadella producer: a stele from the Roman imperial era depicts seven piglets on a pasture on the one side and a pestle and mortar on the other. Since the Romans used mortars to crush and knead pork with salt and spices, it can be deduced that the name of this tasty deli speciality was obtained from the word mortarium or better still from murtatum, which means meat finely minced in a mortar.

2) Another theory is that the name derives from the word myrtatum, the Latin term for myrtle. Myrtle was an aroma used to substitute the more precious pepper in the aptly named farcimen myrtatum cured meat. Even in those days, farcimen myratum was a well-known and widely appreciated cured meat; both Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) and Varro (116-27 BC) mentioned it.

The first genuine Mortadella recipe was provided in the early seventeenth century by Vincenzo Tanara, an agronomist. The precise ingredients were indicated, and the fat content was much higher than it is today.

In 1661, Cardinal Farnese issued a public notice that codified the production of Mortadella; this was one of the first examples of a product specification, with similarities to the current ones used for the PDO and PGI schemes.

The Guild of Salaroli, one of the oldest guilds in Bologna, were the first to produce and affix the guarantee seals; their emblem featured a pestle and mortar. A couple of centuries ago, Mortadella Bologna was a product reserved only for an elite of gourmets, noble families and the rich bourgeoisie, who could afford a high-priced cured meat that was more expensive than prosciutto. This was due in part to the value of the raw material and in part to the production costs, as highly specialised artisans were needed to produce the product. It was only after the cured meat industry gradually started to develop during the nineteenth century that it became a popular product that was accessible to everyone. The Mortadella sandwich even became the most beloved snack of the working class.


The processing area of Mortadella Bologna PGI covers the territory of Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, the province of Trento, Tuscany, Marche and Lazio.


The meat is roughly chopped to the same size. The resulting mixture is then fed into the mincing system, which reduces the size of the various chunks by passing them through a series of plates with decreasing hole sizes, each of which is preceded by a blade. The hole diameters of the outlet plate must not exceed 0.9 mm. The newly obtained refined mass cannot be subjected to any further mincing processes and its temperature must not exceed +1°C.

The lardons are added at this point – cubes of rindless pork throat fat that are diced, heated, washed with hot water at 40°C and then drained. When they are ready (and salt, peppercorns and herbs and spices have been added), the lardons are evenly distributed throughout the cured meat, in the preferred proportion (a minimum of 15%, in accordance with the Mortadella Bologna PGI product specification).

Should pistachios be added?

The product specification allows for both versions. Historically, the version without pistachios is the preferred choice in Bologna and northern Italy, whereas the green hint of pistachios is an absolute must in Rome, central and southern Italy.


The cured meat is stuffed in casings, tied, hung on special frames and placed in cells where it is gently cooked in hot-air ovens. The core temperature of the Mortadella must reach at least 70°C, and the cooking times average between eight and 26 hours. Our 15 kg Mortadellas take on average 20 hours to cook, whilst the smaller 1 kg ones take around eight hours. It is this step that gives Mortadella Bologna its characteristic aroma and softness. When cooked inexpertly, the Mortadella can end up being irregularly shaped, and this can lead to the lardons partially melting or the pinkish colour altering, due to the excess heat. Larger Mortadellas must be cooked for longer, and the temperature must be gradually increased, in order to enhance the taste and aroma. For this reason, expert consumers unwittingly tend to opt for the large product, based on its taste alone.

On the table

Whether enriched with the crunchy hint of pistachios or not, Mortadella Bologna PGI’s unmistakable, soft and aromatic taste is delicious when eaten on its own, on bread, or as a special ingredient to add flavour to countless kitchen creations, such as rice with Savoy cabbage and mortadella, meat and mortadella roulades or even a salad with diced mortadella.

The showering process

The cuts are then given a cold-water shower and placed in a cooling cell that allows the product to stabilise and become truly unique. When cut, the surface will be velvety and have a uniform, bright pink colour.

Nutritional aspects

Mortadella Bologna is a product that is increasingly falling in line with the principles of modern nutritional science: 100 g of Mortadella contains around 288 calories; less than the calories in a dish of pasta and the same as those found in Fior di Latte mozzarella.

In fact, 100 g of Mortadella Bologna contains Vitamins B1, B2 and Niacin.

Mortadella Bologna is also rich in minerals such as iron and zinc, making it the ideal food for those who need a good energy intake to carry out certain physical activities.

The quality obtained from selecting the raw materials and the processing techniques creates a Mortadella product that is particularly suited to the needs of today’s consumers.


Consorzio Italiano tutela Mortadella Bologna, Consorzio Cacciatore Italiano, Consorzio Zampone e Cotechino Modena IGP:
Milanofiori - Strada 4 Palazzo Q8, 20089 Rozzano Milano, Italy
•Tel: (+39)02 8925901 •Fax: 02 57510607 •E-mail:

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