Ham it´s without any doubt one of the most popular products of our country. Once you try it, you´ll not forget the taste of a piece of Jamón melting in your mouth!
I´m sure you heard about Bellota Ham, Serrano Ham, Ibérico Ham, Pata Negra…. Sometimes you can feel frustrated when choosing one. Indeed, we receive a lot of enquiries asking us for advice or tips for choosing a good Ham. That´s why we decided to start our blog by making an Iberian Guide to help you and dispel your doubts.
It´s not all about the outside, there are so many factors that must be taken into account when you are in the search of the perfect piece.
To start with, there is a great diversity of pig races in Spain, but we can group them all in two, which I´m sure you heard about before: Serrano and Ibérico. Therefore, you´ll find Serrano Ham and Ibérico Ham.
- Serrano Ham comes from White Pig races (Duroc, Large White….). With a delicate taste, it´s sweeter and saltier than the Ibérico Ham. Also, the level of fat infiltration into the muscle is higher.
- Ibérico refers to the products than comes from Ibérico race Pigs. It is native to the Iberian Peninsula so it can only be found in Spain and Portugal. Larger and stylized legs, short hair and a dark tone in their paws are some of their characteristics but what makes them unique it´s the way they infiltrate the fat, making their meat juicier and with a greater aroma and texture.
In the process of obtaining an Ibérico Ham three aspects take part in the final result that you must take into account: Purity of the Race, Feeding and type of farming.
- The Ibérico Purebread it´s often crossed with White Race Pigs to get a higher fat infiltration while preserving the taste of the Iberian Meat. You can find Purebred Iberian Ham (100%) or Crossed Iberian Ham (50%-75%). It´s a matter of taste and preference.
The curing process it´s also unique. Our location (Guijuelo) meets the best climatic conditions to assure a natural and traditional process. Our winters are long, dry and cold and our summers are warm. Those, together with the winds of the Sierra de Francia and Sierra de Béjar help the natural curing and also make our pieces to require less salt to complete the process, enhancing their natural taste.
- The natural habitat of the Iberian Pig it´s the Dehesa, a landscape native to the central and southern Spain where the pigs are allowed to roam quietly and eat Bellota, the nut of the oak. Summing up, the race purity together with the feeding will be the differentiation from one category to others.
But, how can you distinguish each type? Don´t worry, attached to the Ham there must be a tag with all the information needed.
There are four different categories, as follows:
100% Iberian Bellota Ham (Black Tag). Purebred Iberian Pig fed on Acorns.
Iberian Bellota Ham (Red Tag). Cross-breed Iberian Pig fed on Acorns.
Iberian Cebo de Campo Ham (Green Tag). Cross-breed Iberian Pig Fed on Grains.
Iberian Cebo Ham (White Tag). Intensively Reared Cross-breed Iberian Pig Fed on Grains.
Hope we have stimulated your interest in the Iberian World now that you are aware about all the process and the background.
Here, in Guillén due to the precise control of all the processes in the production chain, our cured and fresh Iberian Meats stand as a reference for our consumers. We take care of everything: from the genetics conditions of our animals, their feed and breeding to the elaboration and final distribution of our products. Just a taste it´s an unforgettable experience.
In the next posts we will unveil more information and data about Spanish Iberian Ham.
You can check here our posts in Spanish related with the Iberian World.