Thứ Bảy, 8 tháng 3, 2014

Jamón Ibérico: An Overview

Iberian ham is also known as pata negra because it is extracted from Iberian pigs that have black hooves. However, in line with the rules of theDenominancion de Origen (Denominations of Origin), Iberian ham can also be made from cross-bred pigs that are at least 75% Ibérico. The breeding of the ibérico breed is limited to an area in Southwestern Spain and Southeastern Portugal.

After the weaning process, the piglets are immediately put on a diet of barley and maize. This happens for several weeks, after which the pigs are left to roam on oak and pasture groves where they eat herbs and acorns. But as the time to slaughter comes close, they are fed depending on the quality of acorns, olives, and commercial feed.

Once the pigs are slaughtered, the ham is salted and left to begin drying for two weeks, after which it is rinsed and left to dry for another four to six weeks. The curing process lasts for over a year, with the best quality Jamon Ibérico being cured for as much as 48 months.

Available Varieties

The finest quality is called jamón ibérico de bellota. This ham type is produced from pigs that feed on acorns before being slaughtered from the oak forests along the border between Spain and Portugal. In addition, they are cured for almost 36 months, which has significant impact on the taste.

Jamón ibérico de recebo is another type of Iberian ham produced from pigs that are pastured and fed a combination of acorns and grain. Finally, we have the jamón ibérico de cebo, which is produced from grain-fed pigs and cured for up to 2 years.

A Brief History

Spain is both the largest producer and consumer of ( Apart from its exquisite taste, the region also has an interesting history and deep cultural significance. Spain produces an impressive 40 million hams annually, and it is consumed extensively with a variety of Spanish cuisines.

Cutting, salting, and curing pork goes back to the time of the Romans (and even earlier). However, when the Moors ruled the Peninsula till the 15th century, pork consumption was prohibited. Hence, eating ham became a symbol of religious and political independence.
Taste and Health Benefits

The ham of Iberian pigs can be cured longer than other pork varieties, which contributes to its unique taste. Jamón Ibérico is rich in flavor and has a very unique texture, and the taste lingers in your mouth for a long time, just like wine.

Finally, this ham is full of nutrients like oleic acid which make it healthier in comparison to the regular pork varieties. In fact, processed pig meat that has been commercially bred and fed with grains contains a lot of preservatives and cholesterol.

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