Diferencias entre maestro jamonero y maestro cortador - Enrique Tomás

Differences between master ham maker and master cutter

Today, we're going to focus on a topic we love and that, for obvious reasons, is very close to us: the differences between a master ham producer and a professional ham cutter. While in popular belief, the idea often prevails that a master ham producer is the same as or equivalent to a master cutter, the truth is that these are two entirely different professions.

At Enrique Tomás, as experts in both worlds, we want to explain what each of them does so that you can get to know and distinguish them well. This way, you can appreciate them for their roles in their respective fields without confusing them.



The Master Ham Producer

The master ham producer is a profession that many are unfamiliar with, but highly respected by others, especially in the areas with a strong ham-making tradition in the Iberian Peninsula. In the world of ham, this professional is the one who crafts Iberian ham. They are artisans, passionate individuals who meticulously care for each ham throughout its entire production process. Their role is crucial and essential in transforming a part of the Iberian pig into a culinary delicacy with unique characteristics in the world.

They have a great responsibility, as do most artisan masters, whose hard work is rewarded through full dedication, attention to detail, and a lot of care. Their involvement in all phases of ham production is fundamental.

Let's see how they are involved in each of these phases:

Master ham producer glossary enrique tomas
Iberian Ham Curing Process

In the Selection of Pieces

After controlling the butchering process, they will select the pieces that will be profiled to give them the desired shape.

In the Salting Phase

Based on weight and a personalized approach to salt levels, the master ham producer decides how the pieces will be arranged and for how long.

In the Stabilization Phase

Once salting is complete, the hams need to be stored in cold conditions, monitoring temperature and humidity to ensure a uniform state and maintain hygienic-sanitary control.

In the Drying Chamber

This is where the hams are hung in natural cellars where they traditionally dry and undergo the so-called "sweating" of the ham. As the exterior fat is lost, flavors and aromas are enhanced. The master ham producer's control of both temperature and humidity is key for them to move on to the final phase, the cellar.

In the Cellar

In the cellar, the hams go through the last and longest phase in which they lose between 30% and 40% of their initial weight. Here, the master ham producer must ensure that the hams rotate throughout the cellar to ensure perfect curing.

The master ham producer decides on the most straightforward and effective method, called "cala" (poking the ham at specific points he knows well) to determine if the hams are ready in terms of curing and flavor for commercialization.


The Master Cutter

The master cutter is a professional ham cutter, a specialist in cutting the ham or shoulder from start to finish, shaping it and maximizing its yield. Their cutting technique is an art in achieving perfect slices so that our palates can fully enjoy every bite. Within the profession of ham cutting, there are distinctions based on the level of expertise in this field.

Cutter for glossary

The master cutter is an expert in ham cutting.

An important point to note is that the title of master cutter should only be given to someone who has won the Spain Ham Cutting Championship, organized by the Association of Ham Cutters. Nevertheless, it is used indiscriminately and erroneously among ham cutting professionals, especially by the media and on social networks.

If someone does not have this title, which is the most common scenario, they are a professional ham cutter who has typically turned a passion into a profession. For Enrique Tomás, the essence of ham cutting lies in experience, knowledge, and love for ham.

Other values such as seriousness and elegance are also very important. In conclusion, both are different professions but with a common denominator: ham. Consider, for example, that a poor cut can ruin the years of work that a master ham producer has dedicated to curing and producing a ham.

Thus, a good cut will not only provide us with the maximum yield from a ham, but it will also allow us to fully enjoy its texture and aromas. And we must not forget the importance of good cutting tools: a good ham knife, a boning knife, and a sharpening steel.

All well-cleaned and sharpened for the performance of the artist who is the ham cutter.

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