Buying pure acorn-fed ham – what does this statement mean? When we talk about pure acorn-fed, are we referring to acorn-fed Iberian ham from pigs that exclusively eat acorns? These are two questions whose answers we believe we know, but more from hearsay than actual knowledge. They are straightforward concepts but can lead to misunderstandings due to improper usage. That's why Enrique Tomás himself wanted to clarify this in his book "The Lies of Ham," which you can also find in our online store.
So, let's provide a brief explanation to understand precisely what acorn-fed ham, known as pure acorn-fed, is and how it differs from other Iberian hams.
Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone, Nor Does the Iberian Pig Live Solely on Acorns
The Iberian pig is born, grows, fattens, and matures to adulthood through different stages of feeding. Its evolution is similar to that of humans; no one would think of giving a newborn piglet a paella, right? The same applies to piglets that have just been born. They cannot be given acorns right away. First, they will suckle from their mother. When they reach the appropriate age, they will eat vitamin-enriched feed on the farm, specially prepared to ensure they grow healthy and strong. Later on, they may also be fed cereals, and eventually, when the time comes, weighing about 100 kg and being suitable to go to the pasture, they will eat acorns. But not just acorns – they will also consume herbs, wild fruits, and anything they find in the natural pastures.
Feeding and Iberian Acorn-fed Breed
So, now we understand that even Iberian pigs, regardless of their age, do not solely feed on acorns because they would starve. To say, "Acorn-fed ham comes from pigs that only eat acorns," is a false statement. Regarding the term "pure acorn-fed," the word "pure" refers not to the pig eating only acorns but rather to the percentage of Iberian breed in the animal. If both the father and mother are Iberian, which is usually the mother, we're talking about 100% Iberian, and if it has undergone the Montanera period, then its ham and shoulder would be considered pure acorn-fed. In the production of this type of ham, factors like breed purity, diet, the care provided by master ham producers throughout the process, and the years it spends maturing in the cellar, similar to the best wines, are all crucial.
All of this makes it very special and valuable, enough to be considered the best ham in the world. Its properties are numerous and exquisite, both for the palate and for maintaining a healthy diet.
"The Best Ham Is Acorn-Fed"
As Enrique Tomás says in his book, this statement is not a falsehood, provided that acorn-fed ham is genuinely your favorite as a consumer and ham lover. However, for someone else, it might not be, and they may prefer grain-fed Iberian ham or even a good Gran Reserva. It's clear that acorn-fed Iberian ham is a delicacy on par with the best delicacies in the world. Other delicacies, such as oysters and foie gras, are equally exquisite and surely not to everyone's taste.
So, following Enrique Tomás' theory and what logic dictates in these cases, there isn't one ham better than another. The best ham is the one that gives you the most pleasure. Sometimes, depending on the piece, a ham or shoulder surprises us with its exceptional quality, and we might not even realize whether it's grain-fed or acorn-fed. Since no two pieces are alike, let's simply enjoy the moment.
Price and Quality
The price of ham and its quality are related. However, after all that we've explained, you'll also understand that the most expensive ham isn't necessarily the best. It will likely have higher breed purity and require more effort from expert masters who care for it from growth until it reaches you, the consumer. We invite you to try different types of ham and their origins until you find your favorite, without feeling compelled to taste all kinds of ham.
There's no pleasure like it!