Spanish Food – Your Guide to Spanish Ham

Spanish ham or jamon Serrano is just one example of Spanish food.

It is deliciously healthy and exquisitely tasty.

But what is Serrano? How does it get made? What are the health benefits of Serrano pork hams? Jamon Iberico is the king Spanish ham. How is Iberico ham different than Serrano hams? What is “pata nueva”?

Jamon Serano

Let’s begin by clarifying its meaning and pronunciation. It is pronounced “hamon”, the “jamon” indicating “ham”, while “Serrano” referring to sierras or mountains, it’s pronounced as “ham-ON”. Spanish hams were traditionally aged in hilly and mountainous terrain.

Curing Process

Serrano Ham is made with white pigs. After being killed in November the hams were placed between layers of sea and curing salts. The curing salts last for approximately 24-48 hours.

The salt is then removed, and the curing, aging, and maturing process takes place. It usually lasts 12-14months.

This is when a specialist will pierce the pork with a cow bone and inspect the meat to verify its quality.

The hams will lose as much as 40% of what they were before curing. This is due to the meat becoming darker-reddish and the fat becoming moist and yellowy.

Jamon Iberico

Iberian porks differ from their Serrano relatives in that they are almost always black and have black hoofs. This is the origin of “pata Negra”, which literally means “black horse”.

It is the Iberian pigs’ free-range diet that makes their Ham superior to other Serrano porks. Plus, they have a longer curing process that can take 18 months to 3 Years.

The “Bellota”, a pig that is exclusively fed on acorns, is the king of Iberian pork hams. Yes, “bellota” is the Spanish term for acorn!

Spanish Ham – Health Benefits

Normally speaking, too much fat in ordinary ham isn’t very good for you as it clogs the arteries.

Spanish ham is an unusual choice. Studies have revealed that it contains monounsaturated fat. The ham won’t clog the arteries and it is rich in Omega-3. Because of its health benefits, the ham is often called “the four-footed oil tree” in Spain.

Spanish ham slices are thin and delicious.