The town of Jabugo is located in the province of Huelva, Andalusia (Southern Spain). In 2007, it had a population of 2,435 inhabitants in 25 Km². Its population density is 99.0/Km². It is located at 112 Km from its capital, Huelva. Jabugo’s municipality is composed by four urban centres: El Repilado, Los Romeros, Jabugo and El Quejigo.
This town is worldwide known for its Iberian Acorn ham (Jamón ibérico de bellota) called jamón de Jabugo (Jabugo Ham).
Jabugo’s Iberian Ham Production:
The curing process of hams lasts 18-30 months, depending on what we are about to explain. After being fed with acorn-rich pastures, Iberian hams are sacrificed. Their lives last an average of 21 months and nothing of them is thrown away. A wide range of products will be produced: salami, sausages, black pudding, meat… and, of course, the main product: ham.
As the process of creating a fine ham is long and complicated, a detailed explanation will be provided.
First of all, pigs are branded to indicate the exact date in which they have been sacrificed, then a V shaped cut is applied (known also as “Serrano cut”). After that, the salting process begins and hams are packed in piles (8 hams per pile) of cooking salt (1 day per kilo). It is very important to verify the levels of humidity and the temperature. Once this process is finished, ham will be washed with cold or lukewarm water in order to clean off the salt. The product will not be in direct contact with salt anymore.
Consequently, ham will be stored in another room during 35/60 days with a low level of humidity and at low temperature. Here, salt will be naturally absorbed and the moisture will be dried out.
Then, the hams are continued to be hung, one by one, facing south for 6-9 months. During this time, the temperature remains between 15 and 30 degrees. Dramatic shifts in temperature will have a negative effect on hams. With PDO products this process is carried out manually. Experts will open or close the windows in order to support the evolution of hams. Then, meat begins to take on the “cured” qualities and acorns’ fats will be absorbed by the muscles.
The next stage is to move the hams to the aging cellar. Normally they are aged for 6 up to 18 months (it depends on weight and quality). Temperature may range between 10 and 20 degrees with a humidity of 70%. In the external part will grow a layer of mould that differs from cellar to cellar. This layer will give hams their unique flavor and aroma.
In the final stage of the curing process, experts pierce hams with a needle to test the aroma and rank them.
Angelo Nestore (firstname.lastname@example.org)