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While the term ham refers to a pork's hind leg which has been salted and cured naturally, the forelegs are called 'paletas' or 'paletillas'. The famous Spanish cured hams (p.e. Iberian ham, black pork, 'serrano' or white pig) as well as different variants of the Italian prosciutto ham rank amongst the most famous ham types on international level.
Iberian hams are classified by the food and acorns fed to the pigs:
- Bait Iberian ham: The fodder is mainly composed of concentrated feed (either in the field or inside).
- 'Recebo' iberian ham: The pigs are fed with both, concentrated feed or acorn.
- Acorn iberian ham: The feeding of acorns is of a main importance.
The 3 different curing qualities for 'serrano' hams are distinguished as follows:
- 'Bodega' ham: 9 to 12 months
- 'Reserva' ham: 12 to 15 months
- 'Gran Reserva' ham: more than 15 months
The different appellations of origin regulate certain characteristics of hams in order to grant them certain quality marks. The most important Spanish ones are p.e. the D.O. Jamón de Huelva, the D.O.P. Los Pedroches, the D.O. Jamón de Guijuelo and the D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura. As to 'serrano' hams, the 'Jamón de Teruel' as well as the 'Jamón de Trevélez' are definitely in the spotlight.
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