The main differences between these two types of Spanish Ham are to be found in breed, rearing process and feeding, as well as in their elaboration process (mainly curing period).
Serrano Ham or White Ham:
The most common type of Spanish Ham, the Serrano Ham or White Ham comes from white breed pigs, mainly from the Duroc, Pietrain and Landraceones.
These pigs are fed with artificially-made food, mainly with cereal feed.
The curing period of these hams lasts generally between 7 to 16 months. Amongst the Serrano Ham we can find 3 different qualities:
Silver: From 8 to 11 months of curing
Gold: From 11 to 14 months of curing
Grand Serrano:more than 14 months of curing
Outside this classification, we also find two origin denominations with very specific qualities:
• Teruel Ham: Hams with their own Origin Denomination, elaborated at Teruel, a cold and dry area at the South of the Aragon region. They are made from pigs of mixed breed: Landrance and Duroc.
• Trévelez Ham: Hams with a protected geographic denomination, elaborated in the surroundings of the town of Trévelez to (Granada, Andalucía). They are made from pigs of mixed breed: Landrance, Large White and Duroc Jersey. The « bodegas » can be found at Sierra Nevada, which means that the ham’s curing process takes place at a very high altitude, between 1.200 and 1.900 meters.
The most renowned type of Spanish Ham, the Iberico Ham is made from pigs of the Iberico breed. Here we have to pause our description and dive a bit deeper into the breed issue. We must point out that the normative only requires the mother to be 100% pure iberico for the final product to receive the appellation of « Iberico ». This means than we can find in the market, pigs which with a mere 50% of iberico in their blood receive the appellation of iberico. A mixed-race pig produces a very inferior product quality wise as the traits of the iberico pig get diluted;but on the other hand, at a significantly lower costs, a fact which explains why only 1% of the Iberico ham producers do so with 100% iberico pigs.In other words the vast majority of so called « iberico hams » we can find in the market are a mixed breed of Iberico and Duroc.
As it happens with Serrano ham or White Ham, the quality of Iberico Ham is also determined by the pig’s rearing process and its feeding.
– Iberico Bellota Ham :
It is obtained from pigs which receive a fundamentally natural feeding and which are reared free-roaming during most of their lives. The minimum « Montanera »period required for using the denomination Iberico Bellota Ham is of 2 months.
– IbericoRecebo Ham :
It is obtained from iberico pigs reared in freedom during a significant period of their lives, but which are fatten with feed at the end of their lives to achieve the objective weight before being sent to the slaughterhouse. The quality of this product is inferior in comparison to Iberico Bellota Ham.
– IbericoCebo Ham :
It is obtained from iberico pigs factory-farm reared and fed with grain. The taste has nothing to do with that of Iberico Bellota Ham. The quality of this product is inferior to that of recebo ham and, goes without saying, to that of iberico bellota ham.
Amongst the « cebo » hams we can find two types:
o « De Cebo de campo » : pigs reared in factories but with the addition of an artificially made country-like natural space and fed with grains
o « De Cebo » : pigs simply factory-farm reared and fed with grains
* « Montanera »= Acorn season