You’ve probably heard of Spanish ham. Jamón. You might have even tried it. It’s one of the most incredible inventions to come out of this country. But what is it exactly? And why is it so famous and so tasty? And when it comes to the crunch and you’re in Spain would you know how to tell the great stuff from the just good stuff? We are here with all your ham answers so we’re going to dive into our local market and into the wonderful world of Spanish cured ham. You’re going to see these babies all over Spain. Hanging in markets, hanging in bars, even in people’s kitchens.
What is a jamón, iberian ham or spanish ham? Why is so expensive?
It’s simply the dry cured hind leg of a pig. How do you make one? You’ve got to kill a pig. Pop off the back legs. Cover it in salt for about a week. And then what you do is you hang it to try for a minimum of just under a year and a maximum of three to three and a half years. A great ham is like a fine wines and they get better with age. And yes, it’s getting heavy. But when it comes to ham it’s a confusing world and so this is the information you need to make great ham choices. Check out the prices on the market’s hams. From 16 euros all the way up to 128 euros.
What gives? What’s the difference between types of hams?
Well, I’m afraid, not all hams are created equal. And it comes down to breed. So, there’s these people is jamón ibérico. These are from a native breed to Spain called the Iberian pig and it’s just tastier. And then there’s these other type: jamón serrano. And that’s anything that’s not the Iberian pig. And it’s simpler. We still love it but it doesn’t have the depth of flavour of this stuff. How can you tell the difference? You’ve got to look at the hoof. These have black hooves. That’s why they’re sometimes called “pata negra” black hoof. And if by some cruel trick of fate you could only eat one piece of cured Spanish ham in your life, which would it be? Jamón ibérico de bellota. It’s smells incredible. This little piece of heaven is from a black hoof pig but a special one. A free range black hoof pig that’s been rooting around the countryside very very happy and in the last three or so months of its life it’s just been eating acorns that have been falling from the oak trees around where it lives and those acorns have an oleic acid which enriches the flavour of the meat and takes what is already delicious, the Iberian pig, right into the stratosphere. It makes it a super Iberian pig. 128 euros a kilo. Best to be enjoying liked and with a fine wine. We are not even going to tell you how good it is. You just need to try it. You need to taste it. It’s rich, it’s lingering, it’s unbelievable. Alright, I’m going to go get some wine.
So, you’re in Spain and you want to have a great ham experience. Well, here are our three tips.
- Number 1: Remember to look out for the word “bellota”. That means acorn. And the black hoof. So you know it’s the Iberian pig. And then you know you’re eating the crème de la crème, the jamón ibérico de bellota.
- Number 2: Don’t get your ham in a tapas bar. Go to a market. You’ll get the same thing and you’ll pay a much lower price. And it’s kinda more fun.
- Number 3: You can take ham home but get some place to buy ham on-line like Deligour.com for pack it well. They’ll do vacuum packing. It’ll keep for three months like that, just as long as you keep it at room temperature.