The Passion for Ham

 
Today Iberian ham is one of the most valued food products in the world and a benchmark in terms of tradition and quality.

You cannot speak of Iberian ham without fully determining three factors: the pasture, which is a unique environment; the outstanding breed of the Iberian pig and the ancient tradition that is reflected in the methods of raising and product development.

It has passed from generation to generation until today. It is known and appreciated for thousands of years. Already the Roman Empire spoke of its excellent qualities and both, pig and product development have changed very little since.

This ancient tradition has been present throughout the centuries in the very specific areas of Spain, highlighting the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. The knowledge was passed from father to son, knowledge that is an essential part of our culture, family and the society of our region.

The classification of the Iberian ham is related to the food the pig eat during the time in The open range.

The pasture is a Mediterranean forest ecosystem that consists basically of oaks, e.g. cork oaks. The acorns and the wild growing herbs are part of the pigs diet.

The classification of the ham is related to the feeding of the pigs during their time in the open range from autumn to late winter. In this period the Iberian pigs are fattened with acorns, grasses of the meadows and in case of the porker with natural feed baits.

Thanks to the acorn and the exercise carried out by the pig during the search for food, the animal will get its final fattening, reach the desired level of intramuscular injection and also provide the much appreciated aroma and taste of Iberian ham.

The curing process of Iberian ham depends on three factors: the legacy of tradition, the climate and the innovation.

The curing process of Iberian ham depends on three factors: the legacy of tradition, the ideal climate and the innovations in technology and food security. This factors lead to the special and distinctive aroma of Iberian ham. Once the animals have been slaughtered and butchered the long process of curing begins:

Salting and washing. The hams are covered with sea salt for one week. The temperature in the chambers can range between 1 and 5º C and the humidity is usually about 80 to 90%. After this time the pieces are washed in warm water to remove the salt from the surface.

Settlement. The washed pieces are left 30 to 60 days in chambers with a temperature between 3º and 6º C and a humidity of 80 to 90%. At this time the salt is uniformly distributed throughout the piece to promote dehydration and preservation. After this period the pieces remarkably increase its consistency.

Drying and maturation. In this stage the hams are transferred in a drying area where moisture and temperature are controlled by ventilation system. The temperature ranges between 15º and 30º C for 6 to 9 months. During this period the ham continue to dehydrate and develops its flavour and aroma because of changes that occur in proteins and fats.

Aging. The hams are hung in cellars for at least 6 months and up to 30. The temperature can range between 10º to 20ºC and the humidity is between 60 and 80%. In these months the biochemical process of curing continues.