A table of ham is the best to start a lunch or dinner on Christmas Day, which are already just around the corner. However, the investment in this starter can vary greatly depending on the type of ham that is chosen. In the Iberian ham sector there is a wide range of prices, with legs that can range from 100 to more than 500 euros. And then there is the sector of white ham, whose assortment is very wide both in quality and prices.
All that are not Iberian jamos are pieces of white pigs
The serrano name is the most common to name the hind leg of the pig that receives a salting and curing process. There are even some who may call Iberian products serrano. However, it is a mistake, the second plus. The correct thing to do is to call all ham that does not come from Iberian pigs. The name of white refers precisely to the color of pigs.
This group of white pigs is divided into four groups : Guaranteed Traditional Specialty Jamón Serrano, PDO Jamón de Teruel, Protected Geographical Identification Jamón de Trevélez and Protected Geographical Indication Jamón de Serón . In addition, there would be a last group that would collect all those hams that are not located in the four previous varieties. This last group would receive the name of ‘cured ham’.
Origin of cured and serrano hams
The cured or serrano hams come from a cross of white pigs. The most common breeds in these crosses are Duroc, Pietrain, Landrace or Large White. In addition, they are pigs that follow a diet with feed made mainly with cereals.
Regarding the PDO Teruel and the PGI Trevélez and Serón they have more valued genetic possibilities. Thus, the DOP Teruel ham comes from crosses of male Duroc pigs and Landrace, Large White mothers or a cross between both. The IGP Trevélez, for its part, is the result of crosses of the Landrace, Large-White and Duroc-Jersey breeds. And the PGI Serón comes from crosses of the Landrace, Large-White and Duroc-Jersey breeds. Duroc, Large White, Landrace, Blanco Belga, Pietrain and Chato Murciano.
The degree of curing of cured and serrano hams, the secret of quality
The differences between Iberian hams and hams from white pigs are important. In fact, many would say that they are totally different products. However, a ham from a 50% Iberian pig and fed with feed may have less differences compared to a good ham that comes from a white pig. A good resource to find a good white ham is to look at the months of maturation and find one that is as close as possible to the curing times of an Iberian ham, which is at least 20 months. Thus, the sector of white hams has certain maturing times:
- Gran Reserva: the hams are cured for 15 months. They are products of higher quality than the rest of white hams.
- Reserve or aged: The yield and the type of fat is similar to that of the rest of white hams. In this case the cure is 12 months.
- Cellar or cellar: these hams are aged for at least 9 months.
- Note 1 : it is worth mentioning that what the norm says is that the minimum maturation time is 7 months. For this reason, it is important to look at the labeling of the piece and follow the rule of the higher the maturation, the higher the quality (and therefore the price).
- Note 2 : the maturation times of the Teruel PDO and the Trevélez and Serón PGI are longer and are priced.