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When it comes to ham, the jamón from Spain waves the flag. Pigs in Spain have a long and precious history. In the past, the poor families needed to find a way to cure the meat from the pigs they were raising. To have food in the colder months of the year, they found ways to cure meat which is still intact today.
There are basically 2 types of Spanish jamón, that is Jamón Iberico (Pata Negra) & Jamón Serrano. The main difference between them is the breed, what type of food they had & for how long it’s cured. On the picture, left the Iberico, right the Serrano.
JAMÓN IBERICO (PATA NEGRA)
Jamón Iberico, in Spanish Pata Negra, comes from the black pig. The pigs graze on the so called Dehesa, private or communal open fields with grass & oak trees, found in Central & Southern Spain. The pigs walk freely & feed themselves with acorns fallen from the trees. As the pigs have no stress & wonder around freely, it enhances the flavour of the meat. Rich, nutty flavours and darker colour with great marbling between the muscle fibres makes this jamón the best.
There are 3 types of jamón:
- Jamón Iberico de Bellota (acorn in Spanish): free range pigs that eat acorns. Cured for 36 months.
- Jamón de Recebo: pastured pigs that eat a mix of acorns & grain. Cured for 24 months.
- Jamón de Cebo: pastured pigs that eat grain. Cured for up to 24 months.
Jamón Serrano comes from the white pig. The Serrano pig has been bred with many different breeds of pigs, and therefore not as such a quality as the Jamón Iberico. Jamón Serrano is produced across Spain, this type of jamón is cheaper & has a different lighter colour, less flavour, softer aromas & is saltier.
The Jamón Serrano has 3 types too:
- Serrano Bodega: pigs raised on farms & eat grain. Cured for 10 to 12 months.
- Serrano Reserva: pigs raised on farms & eat grain. Cured for 12 to 15 months.
- Serrano Gran Reserva: pigs raised on farms & eat grain. Cured for at least 15 months.
Thank you Jamonarium for the info. Next time you’re in the grocery store & you pass by the ham selection, have a look!