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Spanish Ham Guide

Selecting a Spanish ham can be a challenging task for those unfamiliar with the different types and quality levels available. There are several factors to consider when choosing the right ham, such as the region of origin, the breed of the pig, the pig's diet, the length of aging and the cutting of the ham. To explain all these differences a little better and to guide you through the world of Spanish Ham, we have put together the ultimate Spanish ham guide. After going through this page you will know which ham you will soon enjoy!

Types of preparations of Spanish ham

It is important to consider how you will use the Spanish ham before deciding which type of ham to purchase. For example, if you want to buy a whole ham to serve at a festive occasion, a whole ham is probably the best choice. However, if you want to use ham as tapas in combination with bread and other snacks, then sliced ​​ham or deboned ham is probably the best option.

Front leg or hind leg

When choosing between a front leg and a back leg, it is important to consider how you will serve the ham and which flavor you like best. In general, Jamón has a slightly more refined taste than Paleta, but this may also depend on the quality of the ham.

When choosing between a front leg or a hind leg of an Iberico pig, it depends on your personal taste. We will clearly explain the difference between a front leg and a hind leg:

  1. Foreleg (Paleta): A foreleg of an Iberico pig is also called Paleta. The flavor of Paleta is generally slightly more intense than that of the hind leg because the meat is closer to the fat of the pig's belly. Paleta is also usually slightly cheaper than a hind leg.
  2. Hind leg (Jamón): A hind leg of an Iberico pig is called Jamón. Jamón is generally more expensive than Paleta because the hind leg meat is further from the fat of the pig's belly and therefore contains less fat. This gives Jamón a finer texture and a more complex taste than Paleta.

It is important to consider how you will use the Spanish ham before deciding which type of ham to purchase. For example, if you want to buy a whole ham to serve at a festive occasion, Jamón is probably the best choice because of its refined taste and texture. However, if you want to use a ham for everyday use, such as for sandwiches, Paleta is a good choice because of its slightly more intense flavor and lower price.

Difference between Iberico and Serrano ham

The region of origin is important because each region in Spain has its own unique characteristics and flavors. The best-known Spanish hams come from the Jamón Ibérico and Jamón Serrano regions. Jamón Ibérico comes from the Iberian pig, which is fed mainly with acorns, and is known for its intense flavor and high quality. Jamón Serrano comes from the white pig and has a milder taste.

At Iberico Fino we chose Jamón Iberico because we are so impressed by the strong and rich taste that this ham offers.

There are also hams from Iberico pigs that do not roam freely in the dehesa, but are instead fed a mixture of grains and beans. These hams do not have the same complex flavor and texture as Bellota hams, but are still high quality and can be very tasty. These hams are referred to as Jamón Cebo de Campo.

In addition, there are also hams available that are referred to as Jamón Cebo. The Jamón de cebo de campo Iberico is fed with natural springs present in the meadows. Wild herbs, ground oaks, even in many cases they have access to the acorns, although that is not their basic diet in the manure phase.

They are always raised in complete freedom, at ease in the meadows where they can move, which gives the ham a slightly different morphology, which is more stylized. Even the texture, taste and smell of the meat will be slightly different, giving it more intensity, with notes of flavor and aroma of spices.

Maturation

How are the Spanish hams matured?

The maturing time can vary from 6 to 36 months, depending on the quality of the ham and the maturing process. The longer the maturing time, the more intense the flavor of the ham.

Which ripening level should I choose?

The level of ripening that best suits one's taste preference is subjective. We therefore recommend tasting different types of ham and discovering your preference. There's no accounting for taste!

Budget

What budget do I need to buy a Spanish ham?

The budget depends on personal preference and can vary from a few tens of euros to hundreds of euros.

Is it worth spending more money for a higher quality ham?

It is definitely worth spending more money for a higher quality ham, as they generally have better taste and quality.

Save

What is the best way to store my ham?

Once cut, it is important to store the ham properly to maintain its quality and taste. A whole ham should be stored in a cool, dry place, preferably on a hook, and covered with a cloth or special cover to prevent the ham from drying out.

Color & texture

What color is a Spanish ham?

The color of the ham can vary from pink to deep red, depending on the type and ripening time.

In general, the Serrano ham is pink in color and the Iberico hams are known for their deep red color.

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