Jamón de Bellota Ibérico: What is it and how is it made?
Sep 06, 2022
Do you know the Jamon de bellota ibérico? Do you know why this Iberico ham is called that and how it is made? In this blog we answer all your questions about this delicatessen product from Spanish gastronomy. Jamón de Bellota is regarded worldwide as a culinary jewel for four main reasons: the pig breed from which it comes, the diet, the care this animal receives during its life and the treatment of the Jamón during the drying process. Would you like to learn more about the world of Jamon? Let's take a closer look at each of these four reasons!
The Iberian race
The Iberian pig is a unique species in the Iberian Peninsula that is bred in both Spain and Portugal. It is an animal highly valued in the gastronomic sector, since it is thanks to this breed that the famous Jamón de Bellota is produced. Genetically, this breed of pig differs from other pigs, because the fat can infiltrate into the muscle fibers.
The offspring of this pig breed, as well as the products made from it, such as Jamón, can have different degrees of purity: 50%, 75% or 100%.
This breed of pig has genetic characteristics that set it apart from other animals of the same species, the most notable of which is its ability to infiltrate fat into muscle. In the production of Jamón ibérico, not only the breed is taken into account, but also the breeding process of the animal, as well as the place where it lives and its diet.
Have you ever heard of the "la montanera" season?
The Iberian pigs from which the Jamón de Bellota is made are pigs that have passed through the so-called "la montanera" season. During the autumn and winter months (4 months), the Iberian pig grazes freely in the dehesa (Iberian pasture) and feeds on acorns, which is the last stage of its breeding. The dehesas are located in Extremadura, Salamanca and Andalusia, these places have the most favorable climatic conditions to develop the acorn: Iberian acorns are the famous fruits on which the Iberian pigs feed and which are the source of the famous Jamón de Bellota. This fruit has an exquisite oil that penetrates the pig's muscles and is the source of the highly prized fat contained in this Jamón after brining and drying. In addition, this property gives its name to the product itself.
The ripening and drying process of the Jamón de Bellota
Jamón de Bellota is distinguished, among other things, by its juicy and flavorful texture, resulting in a jamón that is simply unbeatable on the market. This result is not only due to the origin and diet, but also to the ripening process. These are the moments when our "maestro jamonero" combines all his skills to produce the best Jamón. There is nothing more or less to this ripening process than the conditions in which the bone is kept, the amount of salt, the storage temperature and the ripening time. In short, a Jamón is pickled with time, wisdom, care and salt. In the case of Jamón de Bellota, five years can pass from the moment the animal is born to the moment it is ready and we buy it. For the Jamón to ripen properly, it must mature for thirty-six to forty-four months, depending on its weight.
The jamón de bellota 100% ibérico: the real “Pata Negra”
We call a Jamón "Pata Negra" if we can say that it comes from pigs with both Iberian parents, ie it comes from pigs whose meat is 100% Iberian, giving it a unique category. In terms of nutrition, of course, they are also pigs who have made "la montanera" and grazed freely in the meadow, where they could feed on acorns, wild fruits and other wild plants. The purity of the variety maximally enhances the taste of each piece of Jamón Bellota 100% ibérico due to its great capacity of fat infiltration in the muscle. Try it and you will see that the taste is irresistible! It almost melts in your mouth like butter.
What makes Jamon de Bellota Ibérico different?
At Iberico we have different varieties of Jamón Bellota Ibérico depending on the purity percentage of the Iberian variety. That is why you will find our Jamón de Bellota with a red label (50-75%) and our Jamón Bellota 100% Ibérico with a black label.
At Iberico Fino we hope to help you on your way and teach you how to distinguish the different types of Jamón. With all products in our shop we provide you with information about the type, origin and composition of the Iberico ham. If you still have questions, don't hesitate to contact us!