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BUYING SPANISH HAM ONLINE
If you are interested in buying a Spanish Ham, you are at the right online shop. Gastronomic Spain offers you a wide variety of ham and Spanish arm-shoulder pork with free shipping to entire Europe.
We offer you a big range of cured ham, as at the time of buying ham is important to know the product you are about to purchase and the different types of ham you might find available.
TYPES OF CURED HAM YOU MAY FIND
First and fore most is important to remember that the ham is obtained from the back side of the pig. Approximately weights around 7-8,5 kg. Although sometimes you may find a ham of until 10 kg. It has a 50% ratio of bone and fat.
To summarize there are two types of ham, the one that comes from the Iberian ham, and the one that comes from the white pig. As it can be seen we are referencing the animal’s race, separating the Iberian raced ones from the rest.
The element of race is going to determine other key aspects to differentiate one ham from another. These are their diet, the time it takes to cure and how they have been raised, if they have lived in captivity or free.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN IBERIAN HAM AND SERRANO HAM
Although visually, an Iberian ham and a Serrano one might seem identical, there are many differences regarding geographic location, diet, certification, curing and breeding.
Geographic location, Certification of the Iberian ham and the Serrano ham
It is considered an Iberian ham those of Iberian race that have been breaded in the Iberian Peninsula (in Spain and Portugal). Even though the Serrano ham is a typical Spanish product it can be raised and cured in other countries outside the Iberian Peninsula.
That is why one of the most important aspects of an Iberian ham is the certification. Regardless of the ham coming from a guarantee of origin or not, all Iberian hams are certified by the Spanish ministry of agriculture which guarantees the traceability of the animal, the purity of the race, the nutrition and the type of breeding received.
The certification is shown by a seal located over the hoof.
A Serrano ham does not have any kind of certification, unless it belongs to a protected guarantee of origin and that through this seal, they would like to indicate it.
Differences between the Iberian ham race and the Serrano ham race
The main difference between an Iberian ham and a Serrano ham is the race. It is said that a ham is considered an Iberian ham when it is at least a 50% Iberian. With that we want to indicate that an Iberian ham it does not have to be of pure breed, we can find 100% Iberian hams as well as some of 75% of Iberian race. Nevertheless, an Iberian ham can’t be certified as such having less than a 50% of Iberian race.
The white pigs which are common for Iberian pigs to be crossed with are the ones of the Duroc race, an American hog that is characterised by its great size and its proliferation of reproduction.
The reason for the Iberian pig to be crossed with the white pig is not only for the breeding. The aim of this cross is to get a more attractive ham to the consumer. There has to be taken into account that the pure breaded Iberian pigs are quite fat animals that when crossing them with the ones of the Duroc race, we are reducing the percentage of fatness to one preferred by most consumers.
On the other side, the most common white pig race to obtain Serrano ham is the Duroc race and the pigs of the Landrace race as well. When talking about the ham obtained from the Duroc race pigs, it must be said that they have that characteristic marbled produced by the infiltration of the fat into the lean.
The nutrition of the Iberian pig and the white pig
The nutrition is one of the most relevant factors at the time of distinguishing between an Iberic pig and a white one, which will have an influence in the taste of the ham.
A white pig, in most cases, will be fed fodder. Although it is true that it can be found that some hogs eat grassland or even acorn, that tends to be a minority and it is not in order to sell them in a great scale and commercial level.
Regarding Iberian pigs’ different types of diet exist and are indicated in the certification of each animal. We can find pigs that have only been fed with natural fodders, with fodders and grassland, or with natural fodders and acorn.
Types of breeding of and Iberian pig and a Serrano one
On a general basis, except for the really small farm, the serrano pig is raised in captivity, in farms where he does not experience freedom.
Whereas, an Iberian pig can be raised in different ways, with might indicate their certification. We may find Iberian pigs raised in captivity, pigs raised in captivity as well as freedom and Iberian pigs only raised as free.
This is another element of distinction as the physical state of the pig is not the same if is in captivity or if it has experienced freedom.
The curing of the Iberian ham and the Serrano ham
A ham will not be better or worse for having been cured for more or less time. Yet the curing of the ham will determine the size of it and its fat percentage.
Regarding Serrano ham, there are ham drying places that combine curing with drying. On a general basis that is a wrong practice as during curing there should be no rush. That is why there have been created guarantees of origin such as Teruel ham and Trévelez ham, that will not only guarantee the origin and the nutrition of the animal but also the curing practices.
Serrano ham tends to be less fatty than the Iberian ham, for that its curing is shorter when comparing two same size hams. Generally, a Serrano ham has a curing of at least 12 months.
A Serrano ham, even if it comes from a white race pig is considered a cured ham. Depending on the curing that it has then we can differentiate between cellar ham, reserve ham and great reserve ham.
A 50% Iberian race ham tends to have a curing of at least 24 months, as the percentage of Iberian race grows the curing times does it too, it can take up to 48 months when talking about Iberian pure breeding pigs.
HOW TO BUY A GOOD QUALITY HAM
Now that you know the various types of ham, you can choose a ham that checks with your tastes and you can also differentiate an Iberian ham from a Serrano ham, so they will not trick you anymore.
It is highly important if looking for an Iberian ham that its certification is guaranteed. Morphologically Iberian pigs are different from white pigs as they have black hoofs, yet if it is not certified you might not know for certain which nutrition, breeding and curing that ham has had. Hold yourself from buying not certified Iberian hams.
If you do not know the ham, seek help. At Gastronomic Spain we have a chat service in which we can answer any question you may have.
After describing the differences between a Serrano ham and an Iberian ham, we need to take into account that what will be affected will be the taste and texture. Surly we can find exquisite hams, in fact at Gastronomic Spain we offer great quality Serrano hams. Nevertheless, an Iberian ham runs over the Serrano ham on taste and texture. The genetic of the race makes Iberian race pigs to be more cared for than the Landrace or Duroc pigs, as the ham that you obtain from them is one of higher quality.
The taste of the Iberian ham, not taking into account the nutrition nor the breeding, is characterised by its high level of oleic acid and its elevated unsaturated fats that provide it with its characteristic taste.
Within these factors, the better the diet is, the Iberian race origin and the type of breeding that have received the pigs, the better the ham will be. At the time of consuming one ham or another, specially comparing them, what it will call out the attention will be the race and if it has been fed with acorn, grass fields or even fruit, over the white race pigs fed with fodder.
That does not mean that you have to buy an Iberian ham, if you work with a tighter budget you can find Serrano hams that have exquisite texture and taste.