Difference between Jamon Iberico and Paleta Iberico
Aug 06, 2021
Which is better, the Iberico jamón or the paleta?
Before buying an Iberico shoulder ham (paleta) or Iberico Jamón, many customers ask us what the differences are between the two, especially from a quality point of view. Our answer is always the same, in terms of variety it is the same product, but in all other respects they are completely different products. There is a marked difference between the part of the pig they come from, as well as the taste and drying time, the latter being the most determining factor.
The drying time and weight also determine the price difference between an Iberico Jamon (ham) and an Iberico Paleta (shoulder ham)
So they are two completely different products, despite coming from the same Iberian pig. This is a unique breed distinguished by its unique ability to infiltrate fat into muscle. This means that both Iberian jamón and paleta are characterized by a tastier and juicier meat, incomparable to any other ham on the market.
Jamon or Paleta?
One is no better or worse than the other. They're just different. The quality is mainly determined by the producer and the drying time.
In addition to your own preference, what you could especially look at is the number of people who will eat the ham. If there are more people at home or if you are going to have a lot of visitors, the choice of a jamon would be more convenient. It is advisable to use up a jamon or paleta within 3 weeks to enjoy the best possible quality.
Including bone and fat, a Jamon at Iberico weighs about 8.5 kilos and a Paleta about 5.5 kilos. Such a share of pure ham is about 44% to 36%.
At Iberico Fino you also have the option of ordering the whole (shoulder) ham pre-sliced and vacuum-packed in packs of 70 to 100 grams. In this way you extend the shelf life of the ham considerably and time is no longer a factor when choosing between a Jamon or Paleta.
The general differences between Iberico Jamon and Paleta
Both parts are from the same Iberian pig. The jamón is the hind leg of the animal and the paleta is the front leg, or shoulder ham.
Iberico jamón usually weighs between 7 and 8.5 kg. The paleta instead weighs 4 to 5.5 kg. Because the morphology (structure and shape) of the paleta is smaller, narrower and less round than that of the jamón, the slices are also somewhat smaller and thinner. In terms of length, the paleta measures between 60 and 75 cm compared to the 70 and 90 cm of the jamón.
This is actually the factor that differentiates both legs the most. Even more important than the price. In the case of the Paleta shoulder, which is slightly smaller than the ham, the meat is closer to the bone, which facilitates the rapid absorption of the salt and infiltrated fat. Hence the red color of the paleta is more intense than that of the jamon. At the same time, this also directly affects the taste, the fat is still in each slice, but the meat is also more salted. Therefore, the taste of Paleta is more intense compared to the Jamon.
The curing/ripening of an Iberico paleta takes about 18 months. For a Jamon Iberico this takes about 24 months. A Jamon Iberico Bellota is usually aged for about 36 months. It is not for nothing that this is the very best Spanish ham available.
Based on all the differences mentioned above, we can substantiate why the Jamon is more expensive than the Paleta. It is not the quality that determines the price, but rather the size and maturation time that the ham expert has invested to transform a piece of meat into a gastronomic jewel such as an Iberian paleta or jamón.