Frequently Asked Questions about Iberian Ham

Pata negra or iberico ham, is it the same thing? What is the best quality?

What is commonly referred to as « Pata Negra » refers to pigs with black hooves. But not all Iberian pigs necessarily have a dark hoof, and the black hoof is not exclusive to the Iberian breed. The quality of the ham is essentially defined by its breed and diet. Thus, an acorn-fed Iberian pig will give, if properly dried and matured, the best hams.

The connoisseurs work exclusively with products from 100% Iberian pigs raised freely and whose diet is composed of natural products including the famous Bellota (acorn).

What is the difference between Jabugo ham and Iberian ham?

Iberian Ham is a ham produced and processed in the locality of Jabugo (Huelva). This place belongs to the AOC « Jamon de Huelva », and has been producing hams since time immemorial. Its reputation is such that it is often believed that it is hams from pigs of a particular breed. The best hams produced in Jabugo come from Iberian pigs, some of which belong to a variant of the local breed: the Manchado (stained) Jabugo pig with white spots on its skin.

What are these little white dots that appear on the ham?

These are crystallisations formed mainly by an amino acid called tyrosine, which appear during protein degradation. They are absolutely not harmful. On the contrary, they generally indicate optimal drying and maturation.

What fat content in a ham/shoulder?

Usually, in an Iberian shoulder, 40% of the weight of the original part is used and in a ham, 50%. That is to say that 60% of the weight of a shoulder (and 50% for a ham) corresponds to bone, hoof, rind and excess fat (fat that we do not eat).

How should I keep my ham at home?

Once the ham has started or is waiting to be cut, it must be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place. The cut part must be covered with the rind and external fat of the ham to prevent it from drying out, and lose aroma and flavour.

Do pigs only feed on acorns?

During the growth phase, the pig needs another type of food, different from acorns, in order to develop and build its bone structure. When its weight is between 80 and 105 kg, it can start to worm in the wooded meadows of the dehesa, where it will gain about 60% of its entry weight by feeding on acorns and grasses.

How to cut a ham or shoulder?