Andalusian Ham, Iberian or Serrano, is the star product of Spanish cuisine. Those who try Andalusian ham love and are fascinated by it, it is the most international, the most desired, the one that accompanies or the one that stands out in a good meal, its presence always pleases even the most exclusive and demanding palates.
Iberian Cured ham is a traditional Andalusian product, one of the key elements of Spanish gastronomy and one of its hallmarks throughout the world. In the last few years it has crossed boundaries and many countries have already experienced the excellence of this product.
The elaboration of authentic Iberian Cured Ham is essentially a handmade process, consisting of the following stages:
The salt plays a fundamental role in the dehydration of the ham and in its adequate conservation. The piece should remain salted for approximately one day per kilogram of weight.
Settling: In the settling or post-salting phase, the salt is distributed evenly throughout the piece. The duration of this process is variable and depends on the fat content of each piece.
Drying: The pieces are finally taken to the natural dryer. In this phase, the fat is evenly distributed in the muscle tissue and the ham begins to acquire its characteristic flavour and aroma.
Each piece is unique and unrepeatable, no rush is necessary. Time stops at the ageing cellar so that each piece brings out the best in itself to obtain those unrepeatable aromas and flavours that make it one of the great gastronomic delicacies of the world. They are an accumulation of sensations that will flood the palate of those who have the privilege of enjoying it.
The Iberian Cured Ham is a traditional food of the healthy Mediterranean Diet, a digestive product with a composition of fatty acids with high content in unsaturated fats, which helps us fight cardiovascular diseases and hypercholesterolemia.
Andalusian ham is also rich in vitamins B1 and B6, proteins and minerals such as iron, zinc and copper, all of which are beneficial for our health.
To start classifying this product there are two fundamental divisions: the Iberian ham and the Serrano ham. Lovers of cured pork are usually good connoisseurs of the diverse types of ham. They can even distinguish the variety of ham before they taste it – the aroma, colour and texture are different in each case. These differences are really evident between cured Serrano ham and cured Iberian ham. Not all Serrano hams are the same, nor are Iberian hams of the same quality. There are two fundamental types when classifying this product: Serrano ham and Iberian ham. Once classified you only have to enjoy each of its varieties.
The Iberian Ham is a natural food with great nutritional value and health benefits. Its fat is high in oleic acid, which helps to improve the level of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and reduce LDL, as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Iberian ham comes from the pig known as Iberian pig, which can be found particularly in the Andalusian meadows. These animals live in freedom, being exercise an essential element for them that will later affect the quality of flavour. Depending on the type of feed the pig has received, different nuances can be obtained from the tasting.
100% Iberian Cured Ham fed only with acorn is one of the most appreciated varieties. Other hams, also exquisite, come from pigs whose Iberian breed percentage is lower and have been fed with acorn, fodder and natural pastures in different proportions.
Quality standard for Iberian products
There is a legal obligation to identify all Iberian ham. Thus, producers are obliged to identify them with four types of labels or seals
Whatever its type, Iberian ham is the most coveted by lovers of this food and you cannot hesitate to try a dish. Do not leave Andalusia without experiencing this explosion of flavours and, if you can, accompany it with a good Andalusian wine.
Serrano ham comes from the white pig and its diet is based on cereal-derived feed. In this case, the variety depends on the curing time. This delight is more widespread and is usually used for sandwiches at breakfast (the most typical one is ham with oil and tomato) or as an additional ingredient for other recipes such as salmorejo, sautéed mushrooms, or any type of filling or garnish for other meats.
The quality of Andalusian hams is certified and accredited by regulatory bodies of the prestigious Denominations of Origin existing in Andalusia and the rigorous controls established by other international certifications, which highlight the ham as a healthy food and recommend it for its indisputable properties and attributes.
Andalusia has two Protected Designations of Origin that protect Iberian hams and shoulders, the PDO ‘Jabugo’ and PDO ‘Los Pedroches’; and two Protected Geographical Indications that preserve cured ham in certain areas of the provinces of Granada and Almería, the PGI ‘Jamón de Trevélez’ and PGI ‘Jamón de Serón’; as well as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed, the TSG ‘Jamón Serrano’.
An exciting world that begins in the diverse Andalusian countryside, in the pastures, and that is subject to exhaustive controls of all the processes, from the selection of breed, purity, feeding, habitat and breeding of the pig to the production and conservation of the product, respecting the tradition, reflected in its traceability and labelling that informs and guarantees the quality of the ham from our land.