Jamon Iberico Dehesa
Black Pigs in Dehesa

Is Jamón Ibérico or Iberian ham world’s finest dry-cured ham?  Anyway, Jamón ibérico is without doubt one of the most necessary meals gadgets of the Spanish delicacies (together with different dishes resembling gazpacho and paella). Additionally it is one of world’s most expensive foods.

The extremely prized ham comes from the Iberico pig, which farmers breed in Southwestern Spain and Southwestern Portugal.

The pigs eat largely acorns in the course of the fourteen to thirty six months they reside.

Guinness World Records has additionally recognised it because the world’s costliest ham. The most costly leg of ham commercially obtainable is an Iberian Bellota ham that Taishi Co., Ltd. (Japan) as of three February 2020 offered at ¥1,429,000 ($13,183.1 or €11,881.3). Till lately this honour befell to Eduardo Donato.

The Portuguese name the ham presunto ibérico . The opposite well-known  variation of the Spanish Iberian ham is  jamón serrano. The Italians name thier ham ‘prosciutto‘ and should disagree with the declare that jamon iberico is one of the best.

Pork merchandise from Black Iberian breed pigs get the ‘ibérico’ denomination. Based on the ‘denominación de origen’ laws in Spain on ham, Jamón Ibérico should come from pure breed, or cross-bred Iberian pigs. So long as they’re at the least 50% Black Iberian.

Out of the full manufacturing of Iberian ham, solely 6% comes with a black label, indicating it’s the 100% Iberian pure breed.

Supply Wikipedia.

The ‘Ham Museums’ in Spain

Museo del Jamon
‘Ham Museum’

Iberico is so Essential for the Spanish there are a lot of ‘Ham Museums’ in Spain. One of many purpose is that it has a protracted historical past.

Black Iberian pigs descend from wild boars and have been a delicacy since lengthy earlier than our instances. Since historical instances, inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula ate ham, at the same time as early as Roman instances. Within the 12 months 77, Roman author Pliny the Elder praised their superior high quality.

When the Moors invaded Spain, because of non secular beliefs they prohibited pork. However after the Catholics took over once more, pork grew to become a well-liked meals as soon as once more. In 1493, when he sailed throughout the Atlantic for the second time, Christopher Columbus had Iberian pigs aboard his caravels.

The Iberian pig comes immediately from the wild boar. So they’re pigs which have much more muscle mass and fewer fats. All that fats is inside the entire muscle, and it doesn’t sit on the skin of the meat.

Immediately, Spain is the biggest producer and client of air-dried cured ham on this planet. Ham is so prized in Spain at present that not solely is there a number of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) hams (a standing which regulates manufacturing strategies, components and places inside Spain) however there may be additionally a sequence of Museos de Jamón or “Ham Museums” across the nation.

However, it’s to the west it’s a must to search for the best jamón, to the huge tracts of land generally known as the Dehesa, an ecosystem of prairie-like grazing land with holm oak (encina) bushes, which as soon as lined nearly 90% of the nation however now solely stays within the areas of Salamanca, Extremadura, Andalucia and throughout the border into Portugal.


Dehesa Jabugo

The black Iberian pig lives primarily within the central and southwestern area of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain). In Spain, the black Iberian pig sometimes has its habitat within the provinces of Huelva, Córdoba, Cáceres, Badajoz, Salamanca, Ciudad Actual, and Seville.

In Portugal they are often discovered within the central and southern areas , particularly within the Alentejo area. There the black Iberian pig known as the porco preto ibérico or porco alentejano. The black Iberian pig is a vital component within the native Portuguese tradition and custom. Theree are additionally annual festivals of their honor. One in all them is the Feira do Porco Preto, an annual competition within the area of Ourique.

Elevating and ‘Sacrificing’ Iberian Pigs

Instantly after weaning, the piglets are fattened on barley and maize for a number of weeks. The pigs roam in pasture and oak groves to feed naturally on grass, herbs, acorns, chestnuts, and roots, till the slaughtering time approaches. The weight loss plan could also be strictly restricted to olives, chestnuts or acorns for the very best quality jamón ibérico, or could also be a mixture of acorns and business feed for lesser qualities.

The pigs are ‘sacrificed’ when they’re 15 months outdated. The hams and paletas are then buried in salt for 15 to twenty days, relying on weight.

They then salt the hams from the slaughtered pigs and depart them to dry for 2 weeks. They’re rinsed and left to dry for one more 4 to 6 weeks. The ham then remedy at the least twelve months. Some producers remedy their jamones ibéricos for as much as 48 months.

Preservation and Storage

Organic Jamon
Jamon Iberico

Jamón comes from the pig’s rear leg. Most firms will use the entrance leg, referred to as paleta. The remainder of the meat for different merchandise, like chorizo.

Cured meats are edible for a very long time. Individuals used the curing course of to protect pork earlier than the invention of refrigeration. In the course of the curing course of the meat is dried in salt.

This helps to stop the construct up of dangerous organisms. Then they grasp it to be uncovered to the weather, producing an exterior layer of mildew which helps to guard the meat inside.

After salting, the method begins to steadily decelerate. The legs spend about two months in a temperature-controlled room. Then they moved them to an ethereal room for six to 9 months.

The ultimate stage of curing, and likewise the longest, is the one in cellars. On common, an Iberian ham wants a few years to succeed in its peak taste, however some legs can remedy for for much longer.

The time it takes depends upon the burden. The hams can spend two, three, 4 years right here.

Each area of Spain has its personal ham. Each Spaniard has his or her personal most popular ham. Spaniards take the noble pig severely. They classify it by breed, weight loss plan, and area.

Protected Designation of Origin

Protected Designations (DO)
Denominaciones Origen

Like many merchandise, together with Spanish wines, or the ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’ utilized in France, some areas have established their very own ‘denominación de origin’ (D.O), (designation of origin). The D.O. ensures that farmers comply with strict necessities in the event that they need to name their hams ‘jamones Ibéricos’.

EU’s Protected Designation of Origin protects Spanish Iberian ham. 5 Spanish provinces are cut up into 4 completely different Protected Designations of Origin, ‘denomenaciónes de origen’:

1. D.O.P. Guijuelo

Farmers increase the pigs of this denomination within the foothills of the sierras of Gredos and Béjar, throughout the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Extremadura, in addition to in Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha.

The protected zone consists of 77 municipalities of the southeast of the province of Salamanca, being the capital of the Guijuelo itself.  60% of the manufacturing of Jamón ibérico belongs to the DO Jamón de Guijuelo.

2. D.O.P. Jabugo, 

Province of Huelva– Jamón made within the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Pure Park, within the cities of Cumbres Mayores, Cortegana, Jabugo, Encinasola, Galaroza, and so on., that make up the zone of the Denominación de Origen Protegida de Jabugo.

The complete city of Jabugo focuses on the manufacturing of jamón ibérico. The city’s major sq.’s anme is La plaza del Jamón (‘Ham Sq.’).

3. D.O.P. Dehesa de Extremadura 

The manufacturing space is positioned within the pastures of cork oaks and evergreen oaks within the province of Cáceres and the province of Badajoz. Of the full dehesa space of the peninsula, Extremadura has about a million hectares.

4. D.O.P. Los Pedroches, province of Córdoba 

Exterior form elongated, stylized, profiled by the so-called lower in V. Preserve the leg and the hoof for simple identification.

Industrial Grading and Labeling

There are 4 classifications that are recognized with a color coding system. Every color tells you in regards to the breed of the pig, the weight loss plan and manufacturing of the Jamon, and the way the meat will style/really feel.

Iberico labels
Iberico Labels

The hams get labels in response to the pigs’ weight loss plan and the share of the pigs’ Iberian ancestry. With an acorn weight loss plan and pure-bred Iberians being most fascinating.

The present labeling system, primarily based on a sequence of color-coded labels, was phased in beginning in January 2014

1. Black-label – jamón 100% ibérico de bellota

That is the best grade and produced from pure-bred Iberian pigs; pata negra belongs to this grade. Bellota means acorn. This ham is from free-range pigs that reside in holm oak forests and pastures (referred to as ‘dehesas’) alongside the border between Spain and Portugal and eat solely acorns throughout this final interval.

The train and weight loss plan considerably affect the flavour of the meat. The ham is cured for 36 months. Solely ‘bellota’ hams might have labels of acorns and dehesas on their labels.

2. Pink-label – jamón ibérico de bellota

Additionally produced from free-range pigs however solely distinction is that they aren’t pure-bred. The share of Iberian ancestry within the animal have to be specified on the label. Damaged hoofss is a goof signal since they’ve been working round within the ‘dehesa’ extra.

3. Inexperienced label – jamón ibérico cebo de campo

This ham is from pasture-fed pigs consuming a mix of acorns and grain. Which means that the ham is simpler and less expensive to provide. Purchase those that are extra sweaty and have patches. They’re tastier.

4. White label – jamón ibérico de cebo,

Or just, jamón ibérico. The ham is cured for twenty-four months. These animals are on a weight loss plan of grain, they aren’t free vary and never 100% Black Iberian Pig breed. They remedy this ham for the shortest time doable to provide the very best yield. A Jamón Iberico de Cebo is similar to an excellent Serrano ham. The flavour is salty and porky like bacon. 

The labels additionally apply to paleta (entrance legs) and caña de lomo: (loin) cuts from Iberian pigs.

The distinction in age between hams determines the color. The flesh of the youthful hams have a lighter pink color. The color of older hams is a deep, ruby purple. The style too may be very completely different.

Pata Negra

Pata Negra
Pata Negra

When folks in Spain have a good time one thing necessary they usually select pata negra pigs from southern Spain for his or her celebrations.

Pata negra in Spanish means black leg . It’s a business label for jamón ibérico. In day-to-day Spanish, it’s used as a synonym for one of the best ham.

It referred to the colour of the pigs’ hoof, that are white or fair-colored in most conventional and business pork breeds in Spain, however all the time black within the Black Iberian breed.

The time period was liberally utilized in each Spanish and Portuguese, resulting in high quality and markets disputes, for the reason that time period was used interchangeably each as nice high quality jamón (of any breed) and ibérico jamón (of any high quality).

Trendy laws solely enable the usage of the wording pata negra for black label jamón sourced from acorn-fed pure-bred Black Iberian pork.The locality of Jabugo is completely dedicated to the Jamón production.

Consumption and Popularity

Every decent restaurant in Spain serves ham.  Spaniards are very proud of their Jamón Serrano and Jamón Ibérico.

Ibérico encompasses some of the most expensive ham produced in the world, and its fatty marbled texture has made it very popular as a delicacy, with a hard to fulfill global demand comparable to that of Kobe beef.

Style and Recipes

Jamón Ibérico, specifically the one labeled as de bellota, has a easy texture and wealthy, savory style. There’s comparatively extra fats in comparison with jamón serrano. A very good ibérico ham has common areas of intramuscular fats generally known as ‘marbling’.

When the Iberian pig forages for its favorite meals, acorns, the nutty flavour is absorbed into the fats. This breed of pig is exclusive as a result of it shops fats in muscle tissue, producing the ham’s marbling and far sought-after candy style.

For instance, within the Huelva mountains, with its distinctive temperatures and weather conditions, the ham naturally sweats, the fats melts, and it takes on the aroma and the scents, the air of the mountains. Afterward, the whole lot passes to the loin of the meat. The meat has a greasiness and sure scents and flavors which are utterly completely different from these of different forms of meals.

Supply: Wikipedia

Right here a video on methods to carve a jamon (see additionally the chapter on carving within the Jamon Serrano submit).

Is Jamón Ibérico natural and wholesome?

The most effective Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is produced within the conventional manner with out nitrite cures. However to be natural the ham and processes utilized by a farm must be licensed.

Many Spaniards assume they don’t have a necessity for such a time period. It’s not “natural” meals to them. It’s simply regular meals and produced in the identical conventional manner as centuries in the past when chemical substances weren’t but used.

Acorns are excessive in oleic acid, a fatty acid additionally present in olives, that’s believed to be good for well being, in response to the US’ Nationwide Heart for Biotechnology Info (NCBI).

It’s wealthy in protein, nutritional vitamins B1 and B6 and wholesome minerals.

Style and Recipes

Iberian Ham Slices
Slices of Iberian Ham

The fallen acorns that carpet the dehesa give the meat its complicated flavour and aroma for which jamón ibérico de bellota is known.

The fats is white and smooth; it has notes of toasted dried fruit and bread crust; and its total taste is a fragile stability of candy and salty.

You possibly can style the ham in crusty rolls, ham in tapas snacks, ham with cheese.  On the Mercados you may get it in paper-thin slices proper from the road of hanging hams.  Some prefer it higher than prosciutto as a result of it has much less fats and salt and isn’t as smooth. 

It’s nice with a little bit of Manchego cheese and Spanish olives, however by no means, by no means served with mustard.

Watch Out for Faux Pata Negra-“model” Ham

Given the truth that top-quality Iberian ham resembling Dehesa Maladúa is comparatively scarce, and the truth that the prices of manufacturing are excessive, some uncertain producers exterior Spain have begun producing pata negra-“model” ham from factory-fed animals which are artificially fattened.

Apparently, a large portion of each native market and exports should not truly ibérico. As defined above, Spain regulation defines commerce labeling for all ibérico merchandise.

Jamón has additionally been offered unlabeled in small cities and unpretentious institutions throughout rural Spain. Whereas as a basic rule, a black hoof ought to point out an Ibérico ham, the ancestry could possibly be exceedingly cross-bred or untraceable, and likewise there have been circumstances of ham sourced from uncommon breeds with darkish hoofs, and even manually darkened hoofs.

As a result of jamón ibérico manufacturing and export is proscribed, patrons ought to beware and never fall sufferer of retail or wholesale bait-and-switch or fraud much like that in olive oil export fraud.

What do they do with the remainder of the pig?

The remainder of the pig is just not wasted and these different cured merchandise from the remainder of the pig (the ’embutidos’ are additionally nicely value consuming.

  • Chorizo de cerdo ibérico – a cured sausage created from chopped pork, pork fats and paprika. There are lots of of regional varieties, some containing garlic and herbs.
  • Lomo de cerdo ibérico – the cured tenderloin of the pig.
  • Morcon de cerdo ibérico – a bigger, much less well-known sausage cured with herbs and spices.
  • Salsichon de cerdo ibérico – one other sausage, cured for at the least 4 months.

I discovered the above and extra attention-grabbing information on this Guardian article on the black Spanish pig.



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