Giant legs of jamon hanging in a local tapas bar is among the images that come to mind when you think of Spain, but what many don’t know is that the land of bullfights and flamenco is also the world’s number one producer (and consumer) of dry-cured ham in the world.
One of the country’s most treasured foods and a highly prized produce all over the world, the Spanish jamon is still made using century-old techniques and labeled according to the pigs’ breed and diet. Theoretically, Spain boasts two different types of cured ham – Jamon Serrano and Jamon Iberico, but in reality there are many variations available throughout the country.
Also known as Jamon Reserva or Jamon Curado, the famous Jamon Serrano is a dry-cured ham usually made in the Spanish sierras form various breeds of white pigs, including Landrace, Duroc, or Large White. The exquisite Jamon Iberico, however, is a different story. Arguably the greatest ham in the world, this ancient delicacy is made exclusively from black Iberian pigs that roam freely on the picturesque oak pastures of southwestern Spain. The process is both elaborate and very rigorous, and lasts for at least three years. From the finest to the most common, Jamon Iberico is categorized as follows: Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Jamón Iberico de Recebo, Jamón Ibérico Cebo de Campo, Jamón Ibérico de Cebo.