Iberico ham, also known as Jamon Iberico, is a type of cured ham that is produced in Spain. It is made from the Iberian breed of pig, which is native to the Iberian Peninsula and is known for its high quality meat.
The production of Iberico ham is a long and careful process that involves several stages. First, the pigs are raised on a diet of acorns and other natural foods, which gives the meat a distinctive flavor. The pigs are then slaughtered and the hams are salted and cured for a period of several months to several years, depending on the desired flavor and texture.
The quality of Iberico ham is determined by several factors, including the breed of pig, the diet of the pig, the curing process, and the length of time the ham is cured. The highest quality Iberico ham is known as Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, which comes from pigs that have been raised on a diet of acorns and have been allowed to roam free in the oak forests of southwestern Spain. These hams are cured for at least 36 months and have a rich, nutty flavor and a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Iberico ham is a prized delicacy in Spain and is often served as an appetizer or as part of a charcuterie board. It is typically sliced thinly and served at room temperature to allow the flavors and aromas to fully develop. It can also be paired with a variety of wines, including sherry and Rioja.
Overall, Iberico ham is a unique and flavorful product that is highly regarded in Spain and around the world. Its complex flavor and texture make it a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from salads to sandwiches to pastas.
Here are some additional points about Iberico ham from Spain:
- Grading: Iberico ham is graded according to the percentage of Iberico pig in the ham. The highest quality hams are labeled “100% Iberico de Bellota”, which means that they come from purebred Iberian pigs that have been raised on a diet of acorns. Other grades include “Iberico de Bellota” (which contains at least 75% Iberian pig), “Iberico de Cebo de Campo” (which contains at least 50% Iberian pig and has been raised on a diet of grains and natural foods), and “Iberico de Cebo” (which contains at least 50% Iberian pig and has been raised on a diet of grains).
- Regions: The production of Iberico ham is limited to certain regions in Spain, including Extremadura, Andalusia, Castile and León, and Catalonia. Each region has its own distinct style of Iberico ham, with variations in flavor, texture, and curing time.
- Curing: The curing process for Iberico ham involves several stages, including salting, washing, drying, and aging. The hams are hung in a cool, dry environment and are carefully monitored to ensure that they develop the desired flavor and texture.
- Health benefits: Iberico ham is high in protein and low in fat, making it a healthy and nutritious food. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.
- Price: Iberico ham is a premium product that is often quite expensive. The highest quality hams can cost hundreds or even thousands of euros per kilogram, making them a luxury item that is typically reserved for special occasions.
Iberico ham is a unique and highly prized food that is deeply rooted in Spanish culture and cuisine. Its distinctive flavor and texture make it a favorite among foodies and connoisseurs around the world.
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