Black label – 100% Acorn-fed Iberico
It is the finest grade of Iberian pig, produced from pure-bred iberian pigs. They usually roam around oak forests (dehesas) and eat only acorns.
Red label – Acorn-fed Iberico
Produced from free-range pigs that are not pure-bred and the percentage of the Iberian ancestry in the animal must be specified on the label.
Green label – Cebo de Campo Iberico
Produced from pigs that are pastured and fed a combination of acorns and grain.
White label – Cebo Iberico
White label – Cebo Iberico
Produced from pigs that are fed only grain and cured for around 24 months.
The Curing Process
The jamón comes from the rear legs and hind quarters of the Iberian pig while paleta comes from the front legs and the shoulder. For Paleta (shoulder) , as it weighs somewhere lighter than the Jamon (rear leg), the meat of paleta is closer to the bone, which facilitates the repaid absorption of salt and infiltrated fat during the curing process. Slices from the paleta give sharp, powerful, and overwhelming flavors where that of Jamon gives complex and well-balanced flavors and aromas.
The curing of an Iberian ham usually takes around 2-5 years, the heavier the ham, the longer it will take to be cured.
Step 1: Despiece-Perfilado – Cutting and bloodletting of the leg from the pig, cleaning the hair and impurities from the surface, then keep the leg refrigerated at 0-1 degree.
Step 2: Salazón – Salting, bury the hams in salt for an average of 1 kilogram per day.
Step 3: Asentamiento – letting the ham sit for 40-60 days so that salt infiltrates between muscle fibers and water droplets on the surface evaporates eventually.
Step 4: Lavado – Gently washing off the salt on the surface with warm water.
Step 5: Secado – Hanging the ham in the natural drying area where temperature and humidity are controlled through ventilation.
Step 6: Maduración o Envejecimiento en bodega – The Iberian hams are then transferred to the bodega/ cellars where they hang from a cord for as much as it will take. The hams continue to undergo the biochemical processes, enhanced by microbial flora, giving them their particular aromas and final flavors.
How to enjoy Jamón Ibérico
Jamón Ibérico must be served in very thin slices. To enjoy different flavors from the precious Iberico ham, it is only possible when it is carved by knife and by professional ham carver where they can ensure that each ham is has the perfect ratio of fat and meat (marbling) according to the breed, curing period and the specific part of the ham.
Jamón Ibérico is like a good red wine, it has to “breathe”, so its best to serve in very thin slices and don’t forget to open the packaging 30 minutes in advance as the fat (oleic acids) will gently soften and gives out particular aromas.
To enjoy the purest acorn-fed Jamón Ibérico, it is best to eat with your bare hands in which the temperature of your hands will let the fat slowly melts, unleashing the flavors and aromas.