Pigs are wonderful creatures that offer us delicious products, from Gran Reserva Serrano Ham to Iberian Bait Ham. Today we'll talk about a very interesting breed of white pig, the Duroc pig.
If you want to know more about this species and the Serrano ham obtained from it, these are the characteristics of Duroc ham that you need to know. And who better than Enrique Tomás to tell you about curing?
Let's get to it!
What are Duroc Pigs?
Duroc pigs are a breed of white pig native to the United States with fatty meat, making them highly suitable for making ham. This breed is a cross between two pig breeds of European and African descent: the Old Duroc and the Red Jersey. The Duroc pig is a very robust animal and has a great ability to adapt to its environment.
What are the main characteristics of the Duroc pig breed?
- Appearance: The skin is reddish and their coat is abundant and smooth. Duroc pigs have small heads and pointed drooping ears. They have thick legs, and their hooves can be black.
- Weight: Males can weigh up to 350 kilograms, while females of the Duroc breed weigh up to 300 kilograms.
- Location: Although they are native to the United States, their production is widespread both in this country and abroad. Unlike Iberian pigs, which can only be raised here, Duroc pigs can grow in different places around the world. For instance, in Europe, where their breeding is widespread.
- Feeding: White pigs are usually intensively fed on farms, primarily with grain-based feeds.
Duroc Breed and Iberian Pig Breed: The Ideal Cross
The genetic conditions of Duroc pigs are perfect for crossbreeding with Iberian pigs. A pig from a Duroc father and an Iberian mother is 50% Iberian and also has the ability to infiltrate fat into the muscle. In crosses between these species, Duroc pigs are usually the fathers, and Iberian pigs are the mothers.
Furthermore, according to the Quality Standard for Iberian Products (R.D. 1469/2007, of November 2), Duroc pigs are the only breed that can be crossed up to 50% with purebred Iberian pigs.
What type of ham comes from the Duroc pig?
The ham that comes from Duroc pigs is not Iberian, but rather Serrano. At Enrique Tomás, we call this type of ham "Gran Reserva".
It's important to note that any ham obtained from white pigs like Duroc pigs is Serrano, never Iberian. While Serrano ham is very good, it's not the same as the texture and flavor of Iberian ham, which is very distinctive. As mentioned, one of the unique characteristics of the Iberian pig is its ability to infiltrate fat into the muscle, which gives its meat an exceptional richness of flavor.
Enrique Tomás' Gran Reserva Ham
First of all, you should know why at Enrique Tomás we call non-Iberian ham "Gran Reserva." We named it so because it's an all-rounder that isn't Iberian. The white pig from which it comes is treated in an exceptional manner during the fattening process to ensure the resulting ham is of extremely high quality.
Additionally, to produce this type of ham, a traditional curing process and unique knowledge are followed, known only on our peninsula. This explains why it's such a select product. The Serrano ham we sell at Enrique Tomás is Gran Reserva, considered the highest category of Serrano ham.
The Curing Process of Duroc Ham
The curing process for producing Serrano ham from Duroc meat is the same as with Iberian ham, but the duration differs. Less curing time is needed to prepare the meat of white pigs.
The minimum period usually required is seven months, but it can extend up to 24 months. Depending on the time, we can differentiate the characteristics of Serrano ham into: "Bodega or Cava," which needs 9 months of curing; "Reserva or Añejo," which undergo a 12-month curing process; and "Gran Reserva," which requires more time and needs over 15 months.
At Enrique Tomás, our Serrano ham undergoes an extended curing process of eighteen months, longer than most Serrano hams in the market. The result: one of the best hams in this category.
Production and Price of Duroc-Origin Ham
Ninety percent of the hams sold worldwide are produced using meat from white pigs like Duroc pigs. However, they are not the only species used to produce Serrano ham; other breeds like the Celtic pig are also used. Only 10% of the world's ham production is Iberian, which explains its higher price.
The price of Duroc ham can vary based on its curing time. For example, a piece of Gran Reserva Ham, which as mentioned is the most prized Serrano ham with curing exceeding 15 months, costs around 129 euros.
In summary, Iberian ham comes from pigs native to our peninsula that can only be raised here and have the ability to infiltrate fat into the muscle. Duroc pigs are the white pigs used to produce Serrano ham. These are the characteristics of Duroc ham and the pigs from which it's obtained, so you can become a true expert!
And since we're talking about experts, at Enrique Tomás we're specialists in ham, so enjoy all our fantastic top-quality products: hams, sausages, wines, and cheeses.
Visit our online shop to buy ham or shoulder in your preferred format!