Understanding the difference between Serrano ham and Iberian ham is important to know what type of cured ham you are buying.
At Enrique Tomás, as expert ham connoisseurs, in addition to selling the highest quality ham, we want to promote its culture and provide information to expand the knowledge about this typical product of our land.
So, let's start with one of the classic questions in the world of ham: What is the difference between Serrano ham and Iberian ham?
Although you may think you know the difference, there are many specific details that you probably do not know and that justify the taste and price of each: the breed they come from, their diet, and the curing process.
Let's get to know them!
Difference between Serrano Ham and Iberian Ham by Pig Breed
Iberian ham is a product obtained from Iberian breed pigs, and Serrano ham comes from white pigs.
Both hams come from the hind legs of the animal, but the Iberian ham, unlike Serrano ham, can only be produced in Spain and Portugal for two reasons: first, Iberian pigs are only found on our peninsula, and second, only in these countries are the necessary climatic conditions met for Iberian ham to be properly produced for good results.
Iberian Ham Comes from Iberian Pigs
The Iberian pig is a unique species with characteristics that set it apart from other pigs of the same species. Its physiological traits are different from other pig breeds, and one of its peculiarities is its ability to infiltrate fat into the muscle.
This makes its meat very juicy and flavorful, resulting in a ham that is incomparable to any other on the market. Thus, it is recognized worldwide as a gastronomic gem made exclusively in Spain.
White Pig Serrano Ham
What about Serrano ham? This type of cured ham is obtained from white pigs such as Duroc, Pietrain, or Large White, among others, which means those that are not Iberian breed. We can find these pigs anywhere on the planet.
Those involved in ham production feed them appropriately to achieve the most delicious result. This diet is usually based on feed and cereals.
Depending on the white pig breed and the treatment and curing time given, we can identify different flavors, qualities, or characteristics that distinguish ham from each region or country.
In Spain, we talk about Serrano ham, but for example, in Italy, they call it "Prosciutto," in Portugal, "Presunto," or in France, "Jambon." It's clear that each of them has its own characteristics in terms of taste, appearance, and quality.
Iberian Pig vs. White Pig
Difference by Curing Process
The curing process for Iberian ham and Serrano ham is the same, based on salting the piece, but one factor notably sets them apart: time.
As we've already explained, Iberian pigs have a unique feature that no other animal on Earth possesses; they infiltrate fat into the muscle. This is what makes their meat tastier than that of white pigs and, therefore, more expensive to cure.
By infiltrating more fat into the muscle, the curing process for Iberian ham takes longer, and while Serrano ham only needs fifteen months to be ready, Iberian ham can take between 24 and 36 months, depending on whether it's Iberian from feed, field, acorn-fed, or 100% Iberian acorn-fed. Check out all types of ham in our online shop
Enrique Tomás' 5 Types of Ham
Difference in Taste between Serrano Ham and Iberian Ham
We've already explained that the main difference between Serrano ham and Iberian ham is that they come from different breeds of the same animal, but how does this affect their taste?
Iberian pigs have a genetic peculiarity that no other animal on Earth possesses: they infiltrate fat into the muscle. This, combined with specific nutrition and the exercise the pig can get when roaming in the dehesa when released, results in very juicy meat full of nuances and flavors.
It's important to note that even if a non-Iberian pig is allowed to roam in the dehesa, its meat will never be like that of the Iberian pig because white pigs do not infiltrate fat.
If a farmer wants to feed their white pigs with acorns and let them roam in the dehesa, they can do so without any problems. However, it's worth noting that they won't achieve the same taste as Iberian ham; what they will achieve is optimal meat quality, as the pigs will be happier, and this will be reflected in the product obtained from them.
Enrique Tomás Serrano Ham Gran Reserva
Regarding Serrano hams, it's also important to highlight that the fat in these hams doesn't have the same juicy texture as in Iberian hams.
It's only by tasting a genuine Iberian ham that you can appreciate how its fat melts in your mouth!
Serrano Ham Gran Reserva by Enrique Tomás
We call Enrique Tomás Serrano ham "Gran Reserva" because it is a selected ham subject to very strict quality controls.
In the curing process, we retain enough fat for the ham to cure for 18 months, exceeding the curing time of other Serrano hams on the market.
For Enrique Tomás, the care and attention process is the same for all our hams, whether they are Iberian or non-Iberian, to ensure that the result is a tasty ham of exceptional quality, among the best in the market.
We recommend that you try it, either as a whole piece or in slices, and start preparing delicious recipes with it!
Eggplant Roll with Serrano Ham, Tomato, and Cheese
Mexican Omelet with Serrano Ham, Cheese, and Tomato
As you can see, at Enrique Tomás, we want to offer you the highest quality hams to ensure that whatever you're looking for, you'll find it in our establishments or in our online store.
Enjoy ham in your trusted store and make sure you buy exactly what you want!