Iberian Ham or Jamón Ibérico, the best in the world;
The Iberian Ham (from now on will be called Jamón Ibérico in the entire article) is one of the greatest treasures of the Spanish Culture. Unique for its flavor, texture and unmistakable aroma, are prized throughout the world and its fame crosses borders.
There are two types of Jamón Ibérico, Jamón de Cebo and Acorn Ham, which provides to the market a variety of prices that make this culinary gem to supply most of the budgets and can be enjoyed any time, any day of the year. For breakfast, as a snack, for lunch or dinner, there are plenty of moments to enjoy and revel in the Iberian Ham.
The Jamón Ibérico, the finer of the two types of ham, is that which comes from Iberian Pigs that during fattening period have been released in the Dehesa (protected Spanish Meadows) and only fed exclusively on acorns and other natural resources available only in Spanish Dehesas. By contrast, the Iberian Ham, Jamón de Cebo, is that which comes from Iberian Pigs whose diet is based on natural feed mainly composed of cereals and pulses, whether during their fattening farms are in or outdoors.
Clearly, there is considerable qualitative difference between them, as well as in price between the Jamón Ibérico and Jamón de Cebo. Prices of Jamón Ibérico can vary depending on its Denomination of Origin and the company that produces, but approximately the considered best ham in the world, about 600 €/Kilo, price in Spain, although the undersigned, has seen true atrocities in price of Jamón Ibérico outside our borders, but I understand that there are some factors involved in this aspect as transport, customs, trade margins of importers and other variants.
And … You wonder why the Jamón Ibérico is the best ham Worldwide?. There are 4 factors involved in this aspect, the Iberian pig, the meadow or Dehesa, climate in Dehesa and process.
With a unique genetics, Iberian pig is a unique breed that dates back to Neolithic times and, believing that it is a mixture of Sus Scrofa (European wild boar), Sus Mediterraneus (Mediterranean wild boar) and Sus Vittatus (Asian Pork), which through evolution and adaptation has got some features that non another breed has got. These features are:
* It is a medium sized pig, pigmented skin changes from deep black to blonde or deep purple.
* It has little hair, or rather low in the absence as hairless variety.
* Has a well-developed musculature in back and hams due to grazing performs during its life in the pastures.
* Its limbs are thin, strong and hoofed dark and uniform color, except in one variety (Torbiscal) which may have slight pigmentation and whitish stripes.
* Its genetic most remarkable feature is that it allows store large fat deposits through a biological mechanism leading to fat infiltration in muscle mass which gives the meat a texture, aroma and unique flavor, allowing obtaining an Iberian ham with a particular aroma and flavor.
The habitat, in which the Iberian pig, the Dehesa, unfolds, is almost exclusively on the Iberian Peninsula. The Dehesa are extensive and broad areas of Quercus, Quercus either Ilex, the oak, or Quercus Suber, cork oak, natural spaces that are processed by humans from long centuries ago. The word has its origin in pasture voice late Latin “defense”, from time of the Roman Empire, and was a territory bounded with significant benefit of timber and livestock, “Pratum Defensum”. The Dehesa provides us with beautiful landscapes, with holdings based operating environmentally sustainable practices since ancient times, with ranching leisurely fattening, a high quality one. In addition, the Dehesa is an oxygen factory, through the grass and flying, and flame away from the clouds to rain.
The queen of the Dehesa is the Oak, Quercus Illex, which can reach over 20 m in height. The oak is fed through very penetrating roots, reaching 10 meters deep and large surface area, which gives it a great ability to pump all the water and subsurface trace elements, providing an excellent fruit, Oak Acorn, fundamental in the Iberian pig feeding base, fruit that is characterized by a high nutritional value. Its protein content and rich in carbohydrates can easily be transformed into fat, raw material ideal for feeding Iberian pigs.
Nearly 100% of the Dehesa (Oak Forest) of the planet is divided by the Mediterranean, and about 80% of it is located in the Iberian Peninsula, being the resident per excellence of this 80% worldwide the Iberian Pig, settled in this almost exclusive habitat for millennia, having is flesh a peculiar texture and an unparalleled smoothness because during the fattening period of Iberian pork fat infiltrates the lean meat and animal muscle bundles due to their natural food, called “montera” based on providing the oak acorns. Iberian pork fat is a healthy fat, 55% thereof is constituted by oleic acid.
Another important factor in the whole process for obtaining the best ham worldwide is climate, rather Dehesa microclimate, which has arisen as a result of the requirement and need of man to adapt to unfavorable ecological environment and today is one of the few examples of ecosystems in which humans and the environment can live without the first burst, gouge and destroy the second, in a perfect example of sustainable development. The action of man on Dehesa has improved air quality and weather conditions. The microclimate that produces the Dehesa, tempers extreme temperatures and rises relative humidity, fixes large amounts of CO2, helping to moderate the greenhouse effect and global warming. The Iberian Dehesa is a true sink of carbon dioxide and helps preserve and maintain many species of flora and fauna, providing a wealth of biodiversity, the most abundant of all European ecosystems, with this remarkable the Dehesa was listed as protected by the European Union by Directive 92/43 for the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora systems.
Of the 4 factors involved when you can define Jamón Ibérico as the best ham in the world, we have seen 3 of them which are unique and exclusive from Spain, do not exist anywhere else in the world as much as the Iberian Ham, or Jamón Ibérico, wants be imitated, it is impossible to change mother nature, although it is possible to get ham in another countries, but it’s like comparing a normal car with a Ferrari.
And there is another factor to describe, the Jamón Ibérico development process, which I will detail in another article. Meanwhile, hope you can begin to understand why the Iberian Ham is the best in the world.
I recommend you to try it on your next visit to our country.
Just look at this video if you want to learn how to cut Spanish Iberico Ham…not difficult