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Iberico ham is some of the world's best quality ham, and it is protected by various rules and regulations so that you, as a consumer, ensure that you get what you pay for!

What is iberico?

Iberico ham can only be called so if it is made from the special brown Iberico pigs, and the only breed that these pigs are allowed to mix with is the Duroc breed. You can therefore get hams that are respectively 50%, 75% or 100% Iberico.

The Iberico pigs can be fed exclusively with acorns and other natural feed they find in the meadow (such as chestnuts and roots from trees), or fed with supplementary feed, depending on the quality. The best Iberico ham, of course, comes from pigs who have been allowed to go and look for acorns, which they find with their snouts in the Spanish nature!

The quality of Spanish hams is judged according to a system where the quality is indicated by colored strips around the hoof of the whole hams:

  • The black label indicates that the ham is 100% Iberico of the very highest quality. Below you will also find the exclusive Pata negra ham, which is characterized by the jet-black hoof, in contrast to the typical light brown colour.
  • After this comes the red label, which is a ham made from pigs that have lived free range and can be respectively 75% or 50% Iberico.

  • The green label indicates that the pigs have lived in free range and have been fed with supplementary complete feed, and can be respectively 100%, 75% or 50% Iberico.

  • Last but not least, there is Iberico ham with a white label, which is an Iberico pig that is fed only complete feed. These pigs can also be 100%, 75% or 50% Iberico.

The whole hams you can buy can either be from the front leg of the pig, called Palette, or the hind leg, which is called Jamón.

Iberico ham is extremely popular throughout the world, and producers are finding it difficult to keep up with demand. In 2017, 13,000 tons of Spanish ham and its by-products were eaten in Spain alone, which adds up to approximately 4 trillion euros in sales value!

The high demand helps set the high prices, together with the attention and love it takes to produce an Iberico ham that meets the strict requirements for taste, fat percentage and appearance. The many traditions are carefully observed, and the Spanish ham makers are trained in everything from drying, aging and storage to carving and serving. Cutting a perfect piece of Iberico ham is considered an art, and great prestige and honor comes with being a ham producer.

How to eat iberico?

The hams are placed on a specially designed ham holder and cut with a ham knife, which is a pointed, sharp and long knife. It is important that the knife is very sharp, so that almost no effort is needed to cut. The slices are cut with slow and gentle strokes, preferably with short breaks to ensure that you cut correctly. Many believe that it makes a lot of difference to the taste of the ham pieces whether it is cut by hand or on a machine, as the machine-cut pieces lack a certain organic quality and texture.

It is important that Iberico ham is served at room temperature, as the flavor will be more intense and prominent this way. The ham is typically served on a large wooden platter or a nice plate, preferably with some pieces of the wonderful Manchego cheese and Spanish olives on the side. And of course a glass of Spanish wine or an ice-cold beer on the side! Salud and buen provecho from all of us at Elenas!

Spanish hams & sausages.