What is Iberian Ham?

what is iberian ham

Many of us think we know perfectly well that is the Iberian Ham but after talking Jabugo Ham, «Pata Negra» Ham , Bellota, Recebo, Cebo … ultimately, we mix terms.

Do we know well which is the meaning of Iberian ham and what are the ham’s requirements to be considered Iberian?

Well, today we review some basic terms and requirements that will make have clearer ideas about the ham.

Ham is considered the rear of the pig as it the front is called pallet and has a lower weight of the ham.

For a ham can be considered Iberian, must come from Iberian pigs, although there are crosses with Duroc pork. This crossing is permitted provided that 75% of the blood is of Iberian pig.

A greater presence of Iberian pig, higher quality in Iberian ham.

Within Iberian hams have three qualities:

Bellota Iberian Ham: acorn pork enters with about 100 kilos and replaces 60% of your weight on acorns and herbs found in the bush.

Recebo Iberian Ham: Pork recovers 30% of its weight on acorns and herbs and the rest is based on natural feed.

Cebo Iberian Ham: pork is fed from feedstuffs.

If an advertisement or label does not appear any of the three grades and only shows the word «Iberian ham», is understood to be bait but usually it is reflected to avoid confusing the consumers.

Iberian ham can have four appellations of origin.
Iberian ham from Extremadura, Huelva, Guijuelo or Valley of Pedroches but are trying to change the Huelva on the Jabugo since this name is more popular among consumers.

The Iberian Ham, 5 Jotas of Sánchez Romero Carvajal


Of all Iberian hams, the most internationally and famous iberian Ham is «5 Jotas» of Sánchez Romero Carvajal.
This Iberian ham is made in the popular village of Jabugo since 1879.
These hams are made from Iberian pigs that have been fed with acorns in era of open range and are sold under the label of 5J after passing strict quality control.
Its annual output is approximately 60,000 pieces.

Recently, the International Taste and Quality awarded the prize for best Iberian Ham to Cinco Jotas of Sánchez Romero Carvajal. The jury was made up of the 12 most important culinary institutions in Europe, such as Maîtres Cuisiners of France and Belgium; Academy of Culinary Arts, Federation of Chefs of Spain; Jeunes Restaurateurs dEurope; Federazione Italiana dei Cuochi; Euro-Toques and Sommelliere Association Internationale.

After demanding process of tasting, 5J Iberian Ham, received the highest score, three stars, in this contest, known as Superior Taste Awards.

The Iberian ham Pata Negra exceeds caviar, foie gras and truffles

Interview to Manuel Lopez, Iberian «Pata Negra» ham expert:

I’m 43 years old. I’m from Barcelona. I’m «tuner hams». I am married and have a son, Mauro (2). Policy? Whoever has the most to help those who have less. Not believing in God, I believe in the social values of Christianity. Seeing and feeling, know what hams will be optimal


Spain produces 40 million annually of ham legs… of which only half a million are Iberian pork …of which one fifth are more than most. And about this, nobody knows more than this man, since he was 14 he has touched and opened hams and more hams and sausages store of his family in the Boqueria. He then earned his master MBA and applied it into he likes more in the world: the pure bellota Iberian ham. He seeks that we will learn about ham as well as about wines: their vintages, -according to the amounts of bellota-, the nuances of flavor into same ham leg … Details than he explains very well in tastings organized at his store in Barcelona, Reserva Ibérica.

How many hams have you cut into your life?
Three per day for 25 years … Something like 27,000 hams! Would I cut to you a «lonchita» of this Iberian leg?

Why I like so much the Iberian?
Because it has umami.

What is «umami»?
The fifth taste. It was discovered by a Japanese researcher studying some algae.

Describe the taste.
Beyond the salty, sweet, bitter and sour, it is addictive … Try this ham!

Hummm …
It’s a unique taste, singular, different: we have here a gastronomic treasure!

What ham you just give me?
A slice (chopped fine) of most excellent qualityIberian ham.

How is a slice «well cut»?
Finely sliced. And short. To fit whole into mouth and melt his fat … What a shame not to cut correctly a great ham!

What does it mean «sublime quality»?
The ham from Iberian pig, bred in pasture , neutered, that has fed grass and acorns, which has run and has trotted, sacrificed at the right time (January is the best month), and whose leg is salted, consolidated , Kiln dry and matured in the cellar at the precise terms …

And not all Iberian ham is like it?
No, because there are recebo Iberian ham (pasture. acorn …and supplemented with forage), rhere are bait field ham (field without acorn and only forahe) and there are bait ham (feedlot and forage).

Can you tell difference between each one?
Of course! So it should be specified by law the great distinction between the pasturage Iberian ham and industry Iberian ham .

How do you achieve sublime quality?
Breeding a Iberian pig at pasture, among oaks, that eats only grass and acorns, sacrifice it at the right time and cure him. in perfect conditions. Is what I do myself!

What, exactly?
I supervise and I select the best pieces.

Is that being «hams tuner»?
In France there is a «tuner cheese», which guides aging cheese for optimal pieces … I do that with the legs of Iberian ham, and so get the best.

And how many legs acquires per year?
About four thousand, for my establishment and to export to my partner in Japan.

Is known outside the Iberian ham?
Little yet, but once they taste it, they changed the face …Remain amazed!

Another lonchita, please …
Take it … Iberian ham outperforms three gastronomic pearls: caviar, foie gras and truffles.

Argues that
Is better for their higher nuances of flavor and nutritional qualities.

Is very nutritious Iberian ham?
It is a food with many B vitamins and antioxidants. His fat stored oleic acid, olive oil extra virgin, which preserves our arteries. This quality distinguishes Iberian ham other ham hams like serrano, prosciutto …

Is this due to the breed of pig?
Yes, native pig breed with a genetic infiltrating the fat in meat making it as delicious! That fat absorbs and stores the essence of everything that pork eats.

Yes? Is the acorn shows in the taste?
Of course! And if there are oaks, stands the flavor note. And of aromatic shrubs. I once tasted a ham and noticed thyme! He had eaten too much.

Where to begin his work as «hams tuner»?
I locate small farmers that breed lovingly their Iberian pigs, and the artisanal dryers who try very carefully cure of their hams.

Are not most people do that?
A fifth of the 500,000 annual ham legs (on average). And there I go: I touch the legs, turned his curing …I touched and have cut many hams from 14 years that I know will which be great!

What are the designations of origin of ham?
Four: Huelva, Guijuelo, Dehesa de Extremadura and Pedroches Valley.

From which of these is your favorite ham?
Depends … The Huelva (that’s the brand Jabugo) has tones of nuts … The Guijuelo, sweet tones, of toasted sugar. The Extremadura is an intermediate …

How do you advise me to eat good Iberian ham?
Freshly cut. Taking it with your fingers. And you need nothing more.Ham is the eligible gold single of gastronomy!, As Arzak.

What drink to accompany it?
What better marida is a glass of champagne, which refreshes the mouth. Or a glass of fino or chamomile, great geographical pairings. Red wine, however … sends too mouth: no pairs well with Iberian ham!

What part of the leg is your favorite?
Because of its high intensity of flavor, I like the ham in the tip of the leg that touches the hipbone.

What are those white spots that I see sometimes in the ham meat?
Amino crystallized: great!

What is the best ham you remember tested throughout your life?
I was 15, I went hiking with friends, we stopped to eat in the forest, I pulled my homemade ham sandwich …And I have not forgotten that fabulous enjoyment!

How to buy a spanish Iberian Ham «Pata Negra»?

When it’s shopping time for an Iberian Ham it’s very important to have very clear certain terms before to know exactly what they are offering us, and whether the price is good or not.
Personally, the first thing I notice is the quality of Iberian ham.
If  it’s Bellota Ham, it should cost about 30 € at least kilo. (I’m talking about an authentic Bellota ham).
If  it’s recebo ham, its minimum price may be around € 20 kilo.
And if the quality of the ham is cebo, we can find it for 14 € kilo.
These rates are only an estimate because then there can be exceptions.
In this section, I notice a lot when I buy at a store online and I’ve seen descriptions or titles which only speaks of «pata negra ham» or «Jabugo ham» which gives us no information about the quality of the ham Iberian sold.
Then I look at their source.
Huelva (Jabugo), Cordoba (Pedroches Valley), Extremadura (Badajoz …) and Salamanca (Guijielo).
Then I look at the brand as a ham of a known brand always gives me peace of mind that an unknown brand but then this can be wonderful or vice versa.
Finally watch their weight because I like hams of 7kg  and palettes of 4.5 kg.
When a ham weighs less than 6.5 kg-7kg may seem much cheaper than one of 7kg-7, 5kg but we are paying more for it, because we have a fixed weight corresponding to bone (1.7kg-2kg).
Neither, I do not like weighing more than 7kg-7, 5kg as they are often less cured inside.
And of course, always buy from reputable stores because if there is a problem with ham, these will give me a quick solution.
If the Ham is also in supply,  I pay even more attention to the above as the Ham is a product that has an expiration date and a few months ideal consumer. A past Ham, too hard and does not have the same quality no matter how good is the brand.
What do you look when you buy a Iberian ham?

How to cut a Iberian ham

Cut Iberico ham

It seems a simple task but cutting a Iberian ham is an art and taste of our Ham depends in part on our ability with the knife.

Before starting with explanations, it is important that you know the different parts of a ham to better understand and cutting.
As can be seen in the picture, we have the mace, the counter, the tip, the stifle, hock and shank.
Step 1. Cut the ham. 
Place the ham in the ham holder with the hoof up making sure that has a good setting. If you are going to consume in one day, will remove all outer bark and bacon peeling the Ham. Otherwise clean and outline as it is cut.
Step 2. Cut the ham. 
With the wide knife, remove the outer rind and subcutaneous fat and gives a deep cut in the cane. From this court, with the carving knife begins to remove slices to the hub, which is the thickest part of the piece. It is advisable to combine each portion of the central slice, with some of the tip and the shank.
Step 3
Cut the ham. Step 3.
The slices should be small and as thin as possible. The direction of the cut must be uniform either to the hoof or down. For safety, make sure the blade is not facing you.
Step 4
Cut the ham. Step 4.
Upon arrival at the hip bone, will make a deep cut using the lace around the bone so that subsequent slices out clean of this area.  The meat attached to the bone, cut into strips and irregular pieces «taquitos.»
Step 5
Cut the ham. Step 5.
Once exhausted the «maza» is flip the ham with the hoof down the same operation is performed with the «contramaza», down to the bone. This side of the ham is the hardest, so it will be a higher difficulty.
Also I leave a video where you can see cut:

The spanish ham, Iberian cured and serrano cured

In this article we’ll try to explain the different kinds of Spanish hams that it exists and it’s description.

– You can find the dry or serrano ham, the most typical, from white pigs.
It can be from Trévelez, Teruel or another place. It’s normally dried for no more than a year.

– The Iberian ham, which comes from the Iberian pig breed.
It can come from Huelva (the most known is from Jabugo), Córdoba (Valle de los Pedroches), Extremadura and Salamanca (Guijuelo).

 In the Iberian ham you can also find three qualities, Iberian ham cebo, recebo and bellota.

The cebo Iberian ham is a ham that comes from pigs that were fed with grain and grass.

After, you will find the recebo Iberian ham, a ham from pigs that where fed with grains, grasses, and acorns during the time of “Montanera”, (time from October to the end of February).

And finally, you will find bellota ham, the best. It comes from Iberian pigs that where fed only with grass and acorns in the mountains during the “Montanera”. This ham needs  more drying months  because more acorns (Bellotas) ate the pig and more time it needs to dry.
You can find Bellota hams in our spanish store online  Spanishtaste.com


Spanish Cured Ham Iberian

Iberian Ham suitable for pregnant woman


We had always thought that pregnant women could not taste the ham during pregnancy because of the possibility of contracting toxoplasmosis but a recent study concluded the opposite.

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a parasite that can cause mild and mortals infections for the fetus. It is what we called congenital toxoplasmosis.

So pregnant women who have not gone through this disease, which presents no symptoms, should take extra hygiene and nutrition, avoiding eating raw or undercooked meal. This last thing affects the Iberian Ham.

However, a study carried out in Andalucía just concluded that pregnant women can eat ham because of her healing process has no risk of toxoplasmosis.

These are the first findings of a study by the Andalucian Technological Centre of the meal Industry (Teica), participated for the Innovation of the Government of Andalucia.

The social group included in this study is very large because it represents a vast dimension of society. According Teica manager, Juan Carlos Racero, «we must not think only on pregnant women, we need to think in her closest family too, since this situation occurs no one eats Ham«.

Center has signed a framework agreement on scientific and technical collaboration with the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SEGO) in relation to the results obtained with the next study on toxoplasma in cured ham and its posible use by pregnant woman.

Racero describes as «very important» the signing of this agreement because «the responsible doctors of all spain will have a protocol, endorsed by cientific research to inform pregnant woman about the consume of Ham».

How To Buy The Finest Iberian Ham

Spanish Ham Online

Below, you will find some precious advice to help you buying the finest spanish ham online:

Whenever you decide to buy a pata negra ham online (el jamon iberico), the quality label must be present on the product. The first thing to do is verifying its origin. An Iberian ham (iberico ham) may come from the region of Extremadura, from Huelva, Cordova or Salamanca. The labeling must include the variety (bellota, recebo or cebo) and the curing period (that depends on the variety). The bellota ham, for example, needs a longer curing period than the other ones.

It is easy to recognize an Iberian ham thanks to its stretched and delicate shape and, of course, thanks to the black foot of the animal. These two elements must be clear in the photos shown and, in case you are not satisfied with the purchased product you must be allowed to return it.

Once in our hand, it is possible to notice that the colour varies from a shade of pink to purple-red and that the texture is not sinewy, whereas the fat part is fluid, shining and soft.

The brand is not the most important thing if you decide to buy a high quality product. As a matter of fact, many mediocre companies  invest a lot of money in advertising campaigns, while others, perhaps less known, prefer producing homemade hams of high quality, even though they do not have enough economic resources to make themselves known.

Remember that iberian cured ham is not the same than serrano cured ham. The last one comes from a white pig and his quality is lowest.

It is crucial to buy your ham in a spanish store that offers you guarantee on the product you are purchasing and the option to return it if it doesn’t meet your expectations. In Spanishtaste.com you can always find the finest Iberian hams counting on our personalized customer service if you have any problem with your orders.

The spanish iberian Ham Conservation

Iberian Ham

Iberian ham is a special product, for a maximum enjoyment we need to know how to consume and conserve the product. Here we explain briefly this and we hope you keep visiting our blog to know more amazing details about the product.

About to consume

The Iberian Ham should be consumed in ambient temperature, which is considered close to 20°C. If we have the Iberian Ham at this temperature, the color turns shiny because of the natural fat of the Iberian Ham itself. If we keep it in a coldest temperature it turns opaque

To maximum enjoyment is essential that the Iberian Ham have a good cut, this can slightly oscillate between preferences, but in general all want thin slices to get some fat and keep it juicy.

Conservation of Iberian Ham

A good thing about this product is that the conservation is really simple. we only need to keep it in a fresh and dry, in a temperature between 10 C and 5 C we can keep it very good. is advisable keep it hanging or in a Ham Holder.

When the ham is about to be cut, it needs to be consumed at the moment. If we want to keep some pieces for later is important to cover with paper for meal or transparent film, the important thing is avoid the air contact otherwise it dries.

Most important things is: Only cut it if you will consume shortly.

Do you want to buy a ham holder (Jamonero)?

A good Iberian ham needs a good ham holder «jamonero» (a device that holds dry-cured ham so that it can be cut into fine strips) to his court to be suitable.
There are many models on the market and choosing not the question arises which is appropriate.
I will try to help you choose the one that best suits your needs:

1 ° We have to take into account what we pay for the ham holder. Models of ham holder from 25,5 € to fulfill their role as support even very basic.
Then find more sophisticated models, folding, revolving, or both. Its price is around between 75 € and 119 €.

2 ° We must see whether the use that will give will be professional or personal (occasional use at home).
For professional use, is often preferred models where the Iberian ham is horizontal as it is the most comfortable position for a long time to be cutting. This is not to say there are not professionals who have other preferences.

3 ° If we want that the ham holder is folding.
One of the major drawbacks of bulky ham, is the problem of where to save once the ham holder. Almost all can be removed but not easy to walk mounting and dismounting the ham holder every time you need.
so a good option is to choose to buy a ham holder folding. There are different models priced from the 37 € to 119 €.

4 If we find it useful to have a rotary ham holder. This mechanism allows us to turn the ham, once we have finished cutting one side, without having to drop the ham. It is very comfortable but these are usually the most expensive. You can find some at a good price but its price can cost over 300 €.

I think going through these four steps can more easily choose our ham holder.
Here are some pictures of several ham: