IBERIAN HAMS & SHOULDERS
The Iberian Ham comes from a Iberian pig breed that only exists in the Iberian Peninsula. In Spain there are only four producing areas with Protected Designation of Origin P.D.O. -Denominación de Origen Protegida D.O.P.– in Spanish.
• Jabugo Protected, Designation of Origin (Huelva).
• Guijuelo Protected, Designation of Origin (Salamanca).
• Dehesa de Extremadura, Protected Designation of Origin (Extremadura).
• Los Pedroches, Protected Designation of Origin (Córdoba).
PDO - identifies a product, originally from a specific place, a region or exceptionally a country, whose quality or characteristics are fundamentally or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment, with the natural and human factors inherent to it, and whose phases of production take place entirely in the defined geographical area.
There are several types of Iberian Ham and this depends on the breed of the animal and the food that it eats throughout its life. Regarding this distinction we can make two classifications:
Regarding the PIG BREED:
100% Iberian ham: it comes from 100% Iberian parents.
Crossed: you must specify the % (75% / 50%) of the crossing that you normally have of the Duroc breed.
Regarding the FOOD:
Acorn-fed ham: Iberian pig raised in the pastures and which in its last months of fattening has been fed on natural pastures and acorns.
Cebo de Campo Ham: Iberian pig raised in freedom that has fed on natural pastures and feed.
Cebo Ham: Iberian pig that has not been raised in freedom but on farms and whose diet is based on feed of cereals and legumes.
We must take into account the regulations on Iberian Ham, where determinations are collected such as that the term "Pata Negra" can only appear on the label of the highest quality product such as "100% Iberian Bellota".
The terms "Dehesa" and "Montanera" should be used in the labeling of "Acorn fed" products regardless of the purity of the breed. But not in those who carry the denomination "Cebo de Campo" or "Cebo."
The Montanera is the period of time during which the pig feeds exclusively on what it finds in the pasture, like acorns, grasses or fruits. It usually starts with the autumn rains that populate the acorn pastures and fresh grass, until the month of March.
In the pasture, the Iberian pigs live in freedom, which allows them to walk at ease and vary their diet. Pigs can eat 10kg of acorns a day and get to gain a kg per day. Throughout the montanera, a pig can eat about 900 kg of acorns and 330 kg of pastures.
Curing time of Iberian Hams.
The minimum curing time of an Iberian ham ranges from 18 months to 48 months. Depending on the location or region, the climate, the dryer and the last factor is the decision of the HAM MASTER who reviews and tastes each and every one of the hams and is the one that gives the approval when it is ripe and in perfect condition. Those who need less curing time are 100% IBERICO BELLOTA and those who need more time are 50% IBERICO CEBO.
Types of hams and main features
The Iberian pig is a very characteristic breed that results in exquisite meat thanks to the way in which fat infiltrates the muscle tissue. Hence its high gastronomic value.
But in order to offer the consumer all possible information on the quality and traceability of the types of Iberian Hams on the market, the Quality Standard for meat, Ham, Paleta and Caña de Lomo, IBERICOS establishes a classification.
BELLOTA: Acorn-fed Iberian ham is the highest quality, the first in the classification of Iberian hams, so to speak. The pig has been raised throughout its life in the pasture and feeds on acorns as well as other natural resources that can be found in the pasture.
CEBO DE CAMPO: below the Iberian acorn, we find the Cebo de Campo, the second in the classification. It differs from the previous one in the place of breeding and the feeding of the pig. During the montanera they live in the pasture, not fed on acorns, but feed consisting mainly of cereals and legumes, as well as herbs from the field.
CEBO: in the last order of quality after the Iberian acorn-fed ham and Cebo de Campo, we find the Iberian Cebo ham. It is designed to preserve the Iberian pig breed with hams that have a more affordable sale price. The animal feeds exclusively on feed-based farms, consisting of cereals and legumes.
Iberian regulations on the types of hams in the market
As we have mentioned, this Standard defends breed purity (100% Iberian), a native breed of the Iberian Peninsula. It also designates the type of feeding and the lifestyle of the pig as it is used for a type of ham or Iberian products.
But, in addition, the types of hams must be identified by a color label that will be attached on the ankle bone of the hams and that differentiates each denomination of sale.
BLACK: for pieces of 100% Iberian Acorn Ham. These are types of hams that come from 100% Iberian pigs raised in freedom and taken to Montanera.
RED: for Iberian Acorn-fed Hams that come from crossed pigs, so they are not 100% Iberian.
GREEN: for the Iberian Cebo de Campo Ham that come from pigs fed with high quality feed and that can be complemented by natural pastures). We can find types of 100% Iberian, 75% Iberian and 50% Iberian hams
WHITE: for Iberian Cebo Ham. These are pieces that come from pigs fed with feed, cereals and legumes and that are raised in confined spaces or fattening. We can also find 100% Iberian, Iberian 75% Iberian and 50% Iberian hams