In Spain, the country of ham by definition, we can find a great variety of hams, according to 4 essential traits which determine the quality of the final product:
– Breed : white breeds(mainly Duroc) vs.iberico breeds
– Rearing process : intensive vs. extensive (free-roaming)
– Feeding : feedvs.natural feeding (rich in acorns)
– Curing time : from 12 to 42 months
It goes without saying that a production process comprising pure iberico breeds (and thus top-notch quality) is significantly more expensive than rearing and sacrificing mixed iberico pigs, not to talk about white pigs. A fact that added up to the limited number of « Dehesas » in Spain, and thus of acorns, explains why the market is divided as follows:90%of Serrano, and 10 % of Iberico.We must point out that the limited number of “Dehesas” acts as a natural barrier to the number of Iberico Bellota hams to be found in the market. This type of extension requires very specific climate conditions todevelop its vegetation as well as a very high number of years to get to its full potential production wise.
Without doubt there are also significant quality differences amongst the producers of the other main type of Spanish Ham: IbericoHam.Producers differ basically in the purity of the breed they rear, the time their pigs spend free-roaming, the time they spend in« montanera » (acorn season) and the number of months the ham’s curing process lasts.These differences explain the price differences we find in the market, but unfortunately are not properly explained in the labelling.
For a better understanding of the above mentioned differences we propose you a small explicative table which will allow you to recognise the distinctive traits of high quality in Iberico Hams:

Name Cured ham, “Serrano ham” Duroc ham Iberico “cebo” ham Iberico “recebo” ham Iberico bellota ham Juan Pedro Domecq ham
Breed White pig: Mix of Duroc, Landrace, Large White, Pietrain Duroc 50% Iberico; 50% Duroc 50% Iberico; 50% Duroc Iberico mother and crossed stud (50%-75% iberico-Duroc) 100% pure iberico (100% Iberico mother and stud)
Rearing process Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed and free roaming in part of acorn season Free roaming in final months (acorn season) Free roaming throughout their lives
Age at slaughter time 7 months 7 months 10 months 10 months 14 months 21 months
Feeding Feed grains Feed grains Feed grains Feed grains and short “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- Duration: 2 months “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- Duration: 4 months
Curing process 12-24 months 14-30 months 14-36 months 14-36 months 24-38 months 42 months

Just by looking at the length of both rearing and curing processes we can start to understand the different prices of these products, as in any other industry time means money, so no surprise a product that takes 7 years to market is significantly more expensive than one that takes only 2 years…And that without taking into account yields, true delicacies, are as there name indicates, delicate, and this is the case with the 100% iberico pig, especially compared to the sturdy white pig.
Now you have the tips to understand what you should be looking for…don’t let producers deceive you, if you look for the right information you will always know if you are paying a fair price for what you are buying!
In Spain, the country of ham by definition, we can find a great variety of hams, according to 4 essential traits which determine the quality of the final product:
– Breed : white breeds(mainly Duroc) vs.iberico breeds
– Rearing process : intensive vs. extensive (free-roaming)
– Feeding : feedvs.natural feeding (rich in acorns)
– Curing time : from 12 to 42 months
It goes without saying that a production process comprising pure iberico breeds (and thus top-notch quality) is significantly more expensive than rearing and sacrificing mixed iberico pigs, not to talk about white pigs. A fact that added up to the limited number of « Dehesas » in Spain, and thus of acorns, explains why the market is divided as follows:90%of Serrano, and 10 % of Iberico.We must point out that the limited number of “Dehesas” acts as a natural barrier to the number of Iberico Bellota hams to be found in the market. This type of extension requires very specific climate conditions todevelop its vegetation as well as a very high number of years to get to its full potential production wise.
Without doubt there are also significant quality differences amongst the producers of the other main type of Spanish Ham: IbericoHam.Producers differ basically in the purity of the breed they rear, the time their pigs spend free-roaming, the time they spend in« montanera » (acorn season) and the number of months the ham’s curing process lasts.These differences explain the price differences we find in the market, but unfortunately are not properly explained in the labelling.
For a better understanding of the above mentioned differences we propose you a small explicative table which will allow you to recognise the distinctive traits of high quality in Iberico Hams:

Name Cured ham, “Serrano ham” Duroc ham Iberico “cebo” ham Iberico “recebo” ham Iberico bellota ham Juan Pedro Domecq ham
Breed White pig: Mix of Duroc, Landrace, Large White, Pietrain Duroc 50% Iberico; 50% Duroc 50% Iberico; 50% Duroc Iberico mother and crossed stud (50%-75% iberico-Duroc) 100% pure iberico (100% Iberico mother and stud)
Rearing process Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed and free roaming in part of acorn season Free roaming in final months (acorn season) Free roaming throughout their lives
Age at slaughter time 7 months 7 months 10 months 10 months 14 months 21 months
Feeding Feed grains Feed grains Feed grains Feed grains and short “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- Duration: 2 months “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- Duration: 4 months
Curing process 12-24 months 14-30 months 14-36 months 14-36 months 24-38 months 42 months

Just by looking at the length of both rearing and curing processes we can start to understand the different prices of these products, as in any other industry time means money, so no surprise a product that takes 7 years to market is significantly more expensive than one that takes only 2 years…And that without taking into account yields, true delicacies, are as there name indicates, delicate, and this is the case with the 100% iberico pig, especially compared to the sturdy white pig.
Now you have the tips to understand what you should be looking for…don’t let producers deceive you, if you look for the right information you will always know if you are paying a fair price for what you are buying!
In Spain, the country of ham by definition, we can find a great variety of hams, according to 4 essential traits which determine the quality of the final product:
– Breed : white breeds(mainly Duroc) vs.iberico breeds
– Rearing process : intensive vs. extensive (free-roaming)
– Feeding : feedvs.natural feeding (rich in acorns)
– Curing time : from 12 to 42 months
It goes without saying that a production process comprising pure iberico breeds (and thus top-notch quality) is significantly more expensive than rearing and sacrificing mixed iberico pigs, not to talk about white pigs. A fact that added up to the limited number of « Dehesas » in Spain, and thus of acorns, explains why the market is divided as follows:90%of Serrano, and 10 % of Iberico.We must point out that the limited number of “Dehesas” acts as a natural barrier to the number of Iberico Bellota hams to be found in the market. This type of extension requires very specific climate conditions todevelop its vegetation as well as a very high number of years to get to its full potential production wise.
Without doubt there are also significant quality differences amongst the producers of the other main type of Spanish Ham: IbericoHam.Producers differ basically in the purity of the breed they rear, the time their pigs spend free-roaming, the time they spend in« montanera » (acorn season) and the number of months the ham’s curing process lasts.These differences explain the price differences we find in the market, but unfortunately are not properly explained in the labelling.
For a better understanding of the above mentioned differences we propose you a small explicative table which will allow you to recognise the distinctive traits of high quality in Iberico Hams:

Name Cured ham, “Serrano ham” Duroc ham Iberico “cebo” ham Iberico “recebo” ham Iberico bellota ham Juan Pedro Domecq ham
Breed White pig: Mix of Duroc, Landrace, Large White, Pietrain Duroc 50% Iberico; 50% Duroc 50% Iberico; 50% Duroc Iberico mother and crossed stud (50%-75% iberico-Duroc) 100% pure iberico (100% Iberico mother and stud)
Rearing process Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed (Intensive) Factory farmed and free roaming in part of acorn season Free roaming in final months (acorn season) Free roaming throughout their lives
Age at slaughter time 7 months 7 months 10 months 10 months 14 months 21 months
Feeding Feed grains Feed grains Feed grains Feed grains and short “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- Duration: 2 months “Montanera” -Acorn and natural herbs- Duration: 4 months
Curing process 12-24 months 14-30 months 14-36 months 14-36 months 24-38 months 42 months

Just by looking at the length of both rearing and curing processes we can start to understand the different prices of these products, as in any other industry time means money, so no surprise a product that takes 7 years to market is significantly more expensive than one that takes only 2 years…And that without taking into account yields, true delicacies, are as there name indicates, delicate, and this is the case with the 100% iberico pig, especially compared to the sturdy white pig.
Now you have the tips to understand what you should be looking for…don’t let producers deceive you, if you look for the right information you will always know if you are paying a fair price for what you are buying!

Peso:
14