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Production of Spanish Iberico Ham

Production of Spanish Pata Negra HamThe excellent Iberian pork products are obtained by means of a delicate, selective procedure comprising the following stages:

Slaughter and quartering

The carcass of the pig is cut into pieces and the week of the slaughter is branded onto the leg sections. This is done in authorised, extremely hygienic abattoirs. The legs are cut in the typically "serrano", or mountain, fashion and then go into the airing chamber.

Salting chamber

Next the hams are piled one on top of another, separated by layers of salt, to a maximum height of eight hams. They are kept here for approximately one day per kilo of weight, at a temperature of between 1º and 5º C and with a humidity level of around 80-90%. This is a very important stage insofar that quality ham is not supposed to be over-salty. On the contrary, ideally it should taste sweet.


The hams are then washed to remove the remaining salt from their surface, and left for between 35 and 60 days at a temperature of between 3º and 6º C and with a humidity level of 80-90%.

Traditional drying process

Spanish Pata Negra Ham
The hams are air-dried in drying sheds. They are hung up in order gradually to reduce their humidity level. Temperature (between 15º and 30ºC) and ventilation are strictly regulated. The hams remain in these air-drying sheds in the Huelva meadows from six to nine months. They sweat in the summer heat and their fat spreads through the muscle fibres, creating a succulent, aromatic meat.

Maturing and Bouquet

Spanish Pata Negra Cured Ham
The hams are then taken down into cellars to continue their slow maturing process (it is crucial to keep the temperature and the humidity constant). This is usually done in autumn. The hams stay in the cellars for between 6 and 18 months, depending on their weight, at temperatures between 15º and 20ºC and with a humidity level of 60-80%. It is during this stage that the fungi which appear on the outside of the hams begin to facilitate the aroma (bouquet) typical of Iberian cured ham. When it leaves the cellar, the ham is tested by means of a probe (called a cala ) which is stuck deep into the meat, pulled out and smelled. The aroma should be pleasant and strong. In the course of the curing process the ham will have lost 30 to 35% of its weight.

Ham produced by this method is of an incomparable quality, and has been appreciated by gourmets worldwide since Roman times.

Correct Identification

For correct identification, it should be noted that Iberian legs of ham are elongated and finish at the hoof. The meat may vary in colour from pink to a deeper red. It has a very pleasant smell, and far from tasting salty it has a somewhat sweet flavour. Its texture displays very few fibres and its fat is soft and tasty.

- "Ibérico" Iberian ham and shoulder ham come from Iberian pigs fed on a " montanera " diet of fodder authorized by the Consejo Regulador (Regulatory Council).

- "Etiqueta Negra" Iberian Black Label Ham and Shoulder Ham stand out for their gastronomic excellence. They come from Iberian pigs fed on a " montanera " diet of acorns and natural forage complemented with authorized fodder.

- "Bellota" Iberian acorn ham and Shoulder Ham, our best ham, "bellota" ham, come from animals fed exclusively on a " montanera " diet of acorns and natural forage.