Iberian Ham, Delicious Spanish Ham and Iberian Ham: Production Types

The Moorish occupations of the Iberian Peninsula were the only exception. Iberian pork has been consumed in Spain since the Roman occupation. Although the tools, techniques, climate, and other factors have changed over time for Iberian Ham production, the fundamental principles still apply today. This is an explanation of how it is made.

Dry-cured hams are not uncommon. France, Germany, Italy, Germany to name a few, all have their unique versions. The Iberian ham is, without doubt, the King and Queen of the Castle. There are no comparables anywhere in the world. It’s a top choice for taste and texture.

Spanish Iberian Ham production requires a lengthy and meticulous process. Food quality control standards are extremely strict. Jamon Serrano, a Spanish Iberian Ham, achieved Denomination of Origin status. This was represented by a label that included an “s” symbol in the form of a ham. There are many Spanish producers. Therefore, it would be smart to purchase from those producers who can clearly demonstrate that they follow the strict guidelines for producing hams. Extremadura, Southwestern Spain, is home to the highest quality Jamon de Bellota as well as Pata Negra. The Sierra Nevada foothills are where the best Jamon Serrano is found. Trevelez is where it all happens. Wonderful ham and trout in the most well-known Spanish municipality (1486m).Jamon Serano.

This account for 90% of the total production. It is derived mainly from white pigs like Pietrain, Landrace, Large White and Large White. These animals are typically fed cereal-based products. The curing process takes between 7 and 16 months.

Jamon Iberico or Pata Negra y Jamon de Bellota

These products represent ten percent remaining in production. They have a higher quality and are very popular. Jamon Iberico, which comes from the Iberian Pig that is found in Extremadura (Southwestern Spain), is called Jamon de Cebo. There are some differences in the Iberico clan: First, Jamon de Bellota (the most prized) comes from pigs who eat only meadowgrass and acorns. Jamon de Recebo is a pig that eats grass, acorns, and cereals. Jamon de Cebo is grass-fed.


Once the pigs have been cleaned, the curing can begin.

The ham pieces are first covered with salt. Then they are stored in specialized areas that maintain a steady temperature between 0oC- 5oC and a level humidity of 70% to 90%. The salting time will vary depending on how heavy the ham is, but typically it lasts no more than 2 weeks. Salting the meat is intended to preserve it and remove excess moisture.

To eliminate any moisture or uneven distribution of salt, the hams must be washed.

The next stage in the curing process involves the transfer of the Hams to drying areas that have been specially designed to allow the right amount of light in. By opening and closing windows naturally, the area’s temperature and humidity can be maintained to a certain level. This is an important step in the curing process. After six to nine month, the hams will begin to emit their distinctive aromas. Over this time, the fat disperses to the muscle tissue. It is vital that the hams are heated slowly to aid curing.

The maturing stage is where the hams dry in a drying rack. This is when the hams are given their characteristic smell and texture.

Once the Bodega’s inspector approves the hams, they can be packaged and sold. From the time of the pig’s birth to its final testing and sale, it takes 3 to 4 years for a top-quality Iberian Ham. Enjoy!