Jamón Ibérico de Bellota Puro
Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is known as the best quality cured ham in the world, due to its extraordinary texture and superior and complex flavour.
However, not all cured ham coming from Spain are of the same quality. Depends on the type of pig used and the food that they eat, the quality of the ham made can be substantially different.
Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is made using the back legs of black Iberian pigs, who eat only acorns and natural herbs and grasses 60 days before they are slaughtered. They live in the open grassland in the western part of the Iberian peninsula, where they have plenty of space to roam around for food and leisure. The result is a perfect proportion and distribution of fat in the ham, which contributes to its aromatic fragrance and melt-in-the-mouth texture.
The ultimate gourmet lovers look for Jamón Ibérico de Bellota Puro. To claim to be a “pure” Iberian pig, one of the parents has to be a 100% pure Iberian pig and other has at least 50% of pure Iberian blood. Due to its purity in genetic make-up, in combination of the exercises they have in their natural habitat, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota Puro tend to be a little bit more muscular, in a slightly darker red colour than normal Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and has thinner under skin fat compare with a normal Iberian pig. As a result, the preservation process reaches its maturity in around 24 months, compare with a long period required for a normal Jamón Ibérico de Bellota.
Other Types of Iberian Hams
In the market, one can easily find other variants of hams from Spain. It is therefore important to understand what the different labels refer to while choosing the right product for you.
Jamón Ibérico de Recebo eat only acorns and natural herbs and grasses 60 days before they are slaughtered. However, once they have gained at least 29 kg from this natural diet, they will be switched back to normal fodder feeds.
Jamón Ibérico de Campo are made of black Iberian pigs that live free range on the grassland and eat normal fodder feeds rather than natural acorn diet.
Jamón Ibérico de Cebo are made of black Iberian pigs that live in barns and eat normal fodder feeds.
From Spain, there is another type of ham called the Jamón Serrano. Jamón Serrano are usually made of a type of white pigs called Duroc and are processed by traditional methods not dissimilar to the Jamón Ibérico.
Sometimes families in Spain will choose Paleta Ibérico de Bellota as a substitute to Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, due to its equally superior quality and smaller size. Paletas are made using the front legs of a Bellota pig, instead of the back leg as in the case of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. While a Jamón Ibérico de Bellota normally weights between 7kg to 12kg, a Paleta weights somewhere between 4.5kg to 6.5kg, which maybe more suitable for a small family who wants to enjoy this top quality ham regularly.