This job of “Ham Master” is a mistery to most people, but if you visit in Spain, the area of Jabugo or Guijuelo (the two main areas where Iberico Ham is produced), you’ll find that we’re talking about proffesionals with a great prestige.
In the jargon of the Spanish Iberico Ham business, the Ham Master is not the Ham Master Carver –which is the one that carves and slices the ham-, although this is what most people would think of when they hear the term. The Ham Master is the master of the manufactuting process of the Iberico Ham, a character that is absoluterly essential in order to attain the maximum quality in the 100% Iberico Bellota ham offered by top companies, such as Juan Pedro Domecq.
The manufacturing process of a 100% Iberico bellota ham is slow and laborious, it takes more than 3 years from the day when the pig is slaughtered. In this process, Daniel, the Ham Master at Juan Pedro Domecq, is a key figure, responsible for following the evolution of each piece, from phase to phase.
This requires important expertise and technical know-how, in order to verify the conditions of each phase and control their exact duration. Let’s take you along all the main phases in this process, so that you can appreciate what we’re talking about:
o Slaughter: Although most Ham companies have outsourced this first step, but the Ham Master should be always present in order to control how the pigs are quartered and how the legs, the future hams, are given their shape (“perfilado”). At Juan Pedro Domecq all the hams are given shape by the same 4 persons, 2 for the front side and 2 for the back, specially selected by the Ham Master. This guarantees their future uniformity, that will affect the curing.

o Salting: The hams are put in piles and each layer is covered by a layer of sea salt. Control of the exact time that the hams are kept in the salting piles is of the essence for the future flavor of the pieces.
o Post-salting: after the salting, the pieces have to be washed and stabilized in order to enter the curing phase. A strict control of both temperature and humidity is necessary in order to ensure sanitary control and a correct curing in the future. Also in this period, the salt that is initially only on the exterior of the piece, has to permeate all through.
o Drying cellar: During this period the hams are hung in drying cellars where they start to cure naturally. It is now that the main “sweating” of the ham takes place: the fat of 100% Iberico bellota hams, with a high percentage of oleic acid, “melts” slowly at room temperature. This will be essential for the ham to acquire its final flavor and aroma. The exact duration of this phase is again determined, on a one to one basis, by the Ham Master. At Juan Pedro Domecq, the hams cure naturally under the unique microclimate of the “Sierra de Huelva”: humidity and temperature are controlled only by the closing and opening of airing windows, no drying machines are used.
o Cellar: From the drying cellar, the hams go down to the curing cellars, where they will spend most of their lives. Very much like wine cellars, these cellars maintain a very constant temperature all year long, with variations of not more than 3 to 5ºC. During their time here the pieces will lose between 30 and 40% of their initial weight. And the daily supervising by the Ham Master continues: at Juan Pedro Domecq the pieces rotate along all the areas of the cellar in order to ensure that their curing is homogenous.
Only once the hams have reached the perfect curing point according to the Ham Master, they will be deemed ready for sale.
It is at this point that the “cala” procedure takes place. You may have seen pictures of this strange technique that consists in inserting in certain key spots of the ham, a piercing bone (usually of cow origin), in order to evaluate the aroma and curing of the hams. The Ham Master will do the “cala” of the ham, and by the smell of the bone after the insertions, he will determine their quality. Not something that just anyone can do, you can imagine!
So, when we speak about the Ham Master we have before us a figure of the maximum importance if we want to obtain a top quality ham, such as that offered by Juan Pedro Domecq. The Ham Master determines the most demanding standards, that will give you the unique quality, aroma and flavor that make Juan Pedro Domecq hams one of the most delicious gourmet foods you can find.

This job of “Ham Master” is a mistery to most people, but if you visit in Spain, the area of Jabugo or Guijuelo (the two main areas where Iberico Ham is produced), you’ll find that we’re talking about proffesionals with a great prestige.
In the jargon of the Spanish Iberico Ham business, the Ham Master is not the Ham Master Carver –which is the one that carves and slices the ham-, although this is what most people would think of when they hear the term. The Ham Master is the master of the manufactuting process of the Iberico Ham, a character that is absoluterly essential in order to attain the maximum quality in the 100% Iberico Bellota ham offered by top companies, such as Juan Pedro Domecq.
The manufacturing process of a 100% Iberico bellota ham is slow and laborious, it takes more than 3 years from the day when the pig is slaughtered. In this process, Daniel, the Ham Master at Juan Pedro Domecq, is a key figure, responsible for following the evolution of each piece, from phase to phase.
This requires important expertise and technical know-how, in order to verify the conditions of each phase and control their exact duration. Let’s take you along all the main phases in this process, so that you can appreciate what we’re talking about:
o Slaughter: Although most Ham companies have outsourced this first step, but the Ham Master should be always present in order to control how the pigs are quartered and how the legs, the future hams, are given their shape (“perfilado”). At Juan Pedro Domecq all the hams are given shape by the same 4 persons, 2 for the front side and 2 for the back, specially selected by the Ham Master. This guarantees their future uniformity, that will affect the curing.

o Salting: The hams are put in piles and each layer is covered by a layer of sea salt. Control of the exact time that the hams are kept in the salting piles is of the essence for the future flavor of the pieces.
o Post-salting: after the salting, the pieces have to be washed and stabilized in order to enter the curing phase. A strict control of both temperature and humidity is necessary in order to ensure sanitary control and a correct curing in the future. Also in this period, the salt that is initially only on the exterior of the piece, has to permeate all through.
o Drying cellar: During this period the hams are hung in drying cellars where they start to cure naturally. It is now that the main “sweating” of the ham takes place: the fat of 100% Iberico bellota hams, with a high percentage of oleic acid, “melts” slowly at room temperature. This will be essential for the ham to acquire its final flavor and aroma. The exact duration of this phase is again determined, on a one to one basis, by the Ham Master. At Juan Pedro Domecq, the hams cure naturally under the unique microclimate of the “Sierra de Huelva”: humidity and temperature are controlled only by the closing and opening of airing windows, no drying machines are used.
o Cellar: From the drying cellar, the hams go down to the curing cellars, where they will spend most of their lives. Very much like wine cellars, these cellars maintain a very constant temperature all year long, with variations of not more than 3 to 5ºC. During their time here the pieces will lose between 30 and 40% of their initial weight. And the daily supervising by the Ham Master continues: at Juan Pedro Domecq the pieces rotate along all the areas of the cellar in order to ensure that their curing is homogenous.
Only once the hams have reached the perfect curing point according to the Ham Master, they will be deemed ready for sale.
It is at this point that the “cala” procedure takes place. You may have seen pictures of this strange technique that consists in inserting in certain key spots of the ham, a piercing bone (usually of cow origin), in order to evaluate the aroma and curing of the hams. The Ham Master will do the “cala” of the ham, and by the smell of the bone after the insertions, he will determine their quality. Not something that just anyone can do, you can imagine!
So, when we speak about the Ham Master we have before us a figure of the maximum importance if we want to obtain a top quality ham, such as that offered by Juan Pedro Domecq. The Ham Master determines the most demanding standards, that will give you the unique quality, aroma and flavor that make Juan Pedro Domecq hams one of the most delicious gourmet foods you can find.

This job of “Ham Master” is a mistery to most people, but if you visit in Spain, the area of Jabugo or Guijuelo (the two main areas where Iberico Ham is produced), you’ll find that we’re talking about proffesionals with a great prestige.
In the jargon of the Spanish Iberico Ham business, the Ham Master is not the Ham Master Carver –which is the one that carves and slices the ham-, although this is what most people would think of when they hear the term. The Ham Master is the master of the manufactuting process of the Iberico Ham, a character that is absoluterly essential in order to attain the maximum quality in the 100% Iberico Bellota ham offered by top companies, such as Juan Pedro Domecq.
The manufacturing process of a 100% Iberico bellota ham is slow and laborious, it takes more than 3 years from the day when the pig is slaughtered. In this process, Daniel, the Ham Master at Juan Pedro Domecq, is a key figure, responsible for following the evolution of each piece, from phase to phase.
This requires important expertise and technical know-how, in order to verify the conditions of each phase and control their exact duration. Let’s take you along all the main phases in this process, so that you can appreciate what we’re talking about:
o Slaughter: Although most Ham companies have outsourced this first step, but the Ham Master should be always present in order to control how the pigs are quartered and how the legs, the future hams, are given their shape (“perfilado”). At Juan Pedro Domecq all the hams are given shape by the same 4 persons, 2 for the front side and 2 for the back, specially selected by the Ham Master. This guarantees their future uniformity, that will affect the curing.

o Salting: The hams are put in piles and each layer is covered by a layer of sea salt. Control of the exact time that the hams are kept in the salting piles is of the essence for the future flavor of the pieces.
o Post-salting: after the salting, the pieces have to be washed and stabilized in order to enter the curing phase. A strict control of both temperature and humidity is necessary in order to ensure sanitary control and a correct curing in the future. Also in this period, the salt that is initially only on the exterior of the piece, has to permeate all through.
o Drying cellar: During this period the hams are hung in drying cellars where they start to cure naturally. It is now that the main “sweating” of the ham takes place: the fat of 100% Iberico bellota hams, with a high percentage of oleic acid, “melts” slowly at room temperature. This will be essential for the ham to acquire its final flavor and aroma. The exact duration of this phase is again determined, on a one to one basis, by the Ham Master. At Juan Pedro Domecq, the hams cure naturally under the unique microclimate of the “Sierra de Huelva”: humidity and temperature are controlled only by the closing and opening of airing windows, no drying machines are used.
o Cellar: From the drying cellar, the hams go down to the curing cellars, where they will spend most of their lives. Very much like wine cellars, these cellars maintain a very constant temperature all year long, with variations of not more than 3 to 5ºC. During their time here the pieces will lose between 30 and 40% of their initial weight. And the daily supervising by the Ham Master continues: at Juan Pedro Domecq the pieces rotate along all the areas of the cellar in order to ensure that their curing is homogenous.
Only once the hams have reached the perfect curing point according to the Ham Master, they will be deemed ready for sale.
It is at this point that the “cala” procedure takes place. You may have seen pictures of this strange technique that consists in inserting in certain key spots of the ham, a piercing bone (usually of cow origin), in order to evaluate the aroma and curing of the hams. The Ham Master will do the “cala” of the ham, and by the smell of the bone after the insertions, he will determine their quality. Not something that just anyone can do, you can imagine!
So, when we speak about the Ham Master we have before us a figure of the maximum importance if we want to obtain a top quality ham, such as that offered by Juan Pedro Domecq. The Ham Master determines the most demanding standards, that will give you the unique quality, aroma and flavor that make Juan Pedro Domecq hams one of the most delicious gourmet foods you can find.

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