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Apr 15, 2010 05:10 AM

Famous Spanish “Jamon”

Hi I am new to this Grate food forum in my first post in this board I have grate information to share you about “jamon” its a kind of food .
Jamon is the cured leg of a pig of which there are many varieties the most famous being Jamon Serrano and the Jamon Iberico. The different classifications depend on the type of pig, what it is fed on and its location.

Jamon Iberico

The Iberian pig produces the most famous of the range of spanish cured hams. Only the meat that comes from an Iberian pig can be called Jamon Iberico or pata negra which means black leg.
Jamon Iberico is divided into three categories

· Jamon Iberico de Bellota
· Jamon Iberico de Recebo
· Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico is the best quality and comes from free range pigs that live in the mountains and graze on bellotas the fruit of the holm oak tree.

Hope you like my first post enjoy reading, please post feedback also.

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  1. Thanks, donaldcarter55! I had a recipe -I forget what for- that called for Jamon Iberico. I figured out that it was Spanish ham ("jamon" being "ham" and Iberia being in Spain, but I wondered what the big deal was.
    And I couldn't find it, so I used prosciutto. I shall keep looking.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Michelly

      Proscuitto is probably the best sub you could use. But it is definitely worth seeking out and trying. Even the Serrano is miles better than proscuitto, IMHO, and I adore both.

      Not sure I would know the difference, tastewise, with the more expensive Jamon Ibericos. But may be worth seeking out. Delicious stuff.

      1. re: Phurstluv

        Yes, you'd know the taste difference. Serrano is excellent, but Iberico is transforming.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          So I have heard. Unfortunately my local gourmet shop only carries 4 oz packages of the serrano, which I pick up regularly when I get over there. I've only seen the Iberico online at and you have to buy the whole leg, IIRC. Not in my budget at this time.

          1. re: Phurstluv

            Understood. In this country, the price is absurd. I hope you make it to Spain and have it there.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              Oh, yes, that would be a dream come true. Maybe someday. My husband was sooooo lucky enough to do the "backpack around Europe" when you're young & poor, and Spain was his favorite country, BY FAR. He would love to go back someday. We will.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                Phurstluv, if you want to try it, they often carry it at either Surfa's or the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills and Surfa's usually has the better price. And it is 100% worth every penny of the outrageous price!

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  I was just at Surfas two days ago, they don't have the Iberico in stock, normally. It is just the serrano.

                  I love the Cheese store, but don't get there but about once a year, right before the holidays to stock up. But I will keep it in mind, thanks!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    About every other time I go, they have a leg of the jamon iberico de bellota at the cheese counter. I was there saturday but didn't check, but be sure to check each time you go since it's definitely a regular item for them.

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      Shows how infrequent I can get there now, when we walked in I was blown away by the "new" cheese counter, since last time I was there, it was still just cold cases!! Will do, thanks for the tip, friend!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Here is an exert from an excellent article by Simon Majumdar ( who visits Spain and gives us a great insight into the production of the Jamon, the full article is here on the Guardian website:

        "There are four grades of jamón ibérico, categorised primarily by the diet of the pigs. The curing process remains the same, but the length for which they are aged will differ with the lower grade hams receiving little more than a year of hanging and the very best up to four years.

        The age difference can be seen in the finished result with the flesh of the younger hams having a lighter pink colour and those of older hams being a deep, ruby red. The taste too is very different with the acorn richness of the jamón ibérico de bellota lingering on the palate like a fine wine.

        Jamón ibérico de bellota
        From pure Iberico pigs fed on a diet of acorns during the Montanera and granted DO status. These hams are aged for at least three years before being released and often labelled 'reserva' and 'gran reserva' to denote their age.

        Jamón ibérico de recebo
        Fed on a diet of cereals and acorns and aged for at least three years.

        Jamón ibérico cebo de campo
        Free range, but fed only on a diet of cereals.

        Jamón ibérico de cebo
        Commercially reared pigs fed on a diet of cereals."

        1. A good iberico is just on another level of ham from the other players. Yum.

          1 Reply
          1. re: joonjoon

            I buy a two year aged Prosciutto di Parma where the pigs are fed on the whey from the Parmiigiano Reggiano process. To me it's the equal of any of the Spanish Jamon's, and five dollars a pound less. Both make me smile though!

          2. Thank you for the information. However a want to point out something that happened in our home. I happened to have multiple types of ham leftover from a cooking spree. Included were the insanely expensiveSarrano and iberico hams. We had all read the reviews in the LA Times about as one chowhound call it "the transormative nature of the ham." Well when I put out the 5 or 6 varieties that included a TJ's American prociuto and other domestic and inexpensive ham products, no one felt the Spanish hams were worth the money. IMHO I felt it was an enormous hype and rip off. I see more and more of this type of branding and marketing and am continually amused by what suckers we Americans are. So enjoy your acorn fed pigs and by the way I still have this bridge in Brooklyn for sale!

            4 Replies
            1. re: Robhungry1

              Rob - the problem you have is that you may not be getting the hams in prime condition. These are products best enjoyed fresh, cut straight from the joint. Pre-cuting and storing them isn't going to do them any favours. I am lucky enough to have eaten lots of these top quality European hams in their places of origin and in top condition. They are superb. But badly kept ones that are dried out and are in poor condition are fairly unpleasant.

              That said they are not always products for the novice. If your friends are only used to a certain style of "softer" ham, in my terms a York Ham or Gammon Ham then the European hams which have been matured for long periods are going seem tougher and more chewy, it takes a little time to understand the product and then appreciate its virtues.

              Not certain I understand your comments about branding. These are very old products that have been produced for centuries in Spain.

              1. re: Robhungry1

                I think PhilD might be right. In Spain, the Iberico ham is extremely flavorful. I'm a huge fan of prosciutto and other types of cured ham, and the Iberico I've had in this country has been disappointing. Because the imported Iberico is so different (drier, coarser, less flavorful/less nutty) than the Iberico I've had in Spain, I don't think it's worth the money to buy it here either. Even the Serrano is less silky, less moist, less fresh. In Spain, the Serrano is much like prosciutto.

                So, Robhungry1, I don't think you've had a good representation of the product yet. I wish I could give you that experience, and then have you judge.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  I find the presliced Serrano here in WLA to be almost identical to proscuitto. Not sure what that says about either.....

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    It may well indicate large scale industrialised production rather than an artisan product.

                    There are big/small and high/low quality producers in these regions. The EU "protection of origin" (PDI/PDO) regulations ensure that certain standards are maintained and products are made within certain areas to, and then many of these are administered by traditional associations (the DO system in Spain, DOC in Italy and AOC in France) which set the quality standards.

                    However, within the standard there are still good and less good products, it is just the same as wine i.e. Champagne must come from a region in France, it can only contain certain grapes, and must be made in a certain way. But there is still a vast range of qualities of Champagne.