Buying ham is not as straightforward as it may seem. In addition to deciding what type of cured ham you want and whether you prefer the whole leg or sliced, you also have to consider that if you choose sliced, you'll need to decide between machine-cut or hand-cut. But, What's the difference between ham sliced by machine or by hand?
At Enrique Tomás, we're going to explain it to you.
Difference between machine-sliced and hand-sliced ham
Iberian ham is a unique delicacy from our peninsula, and the master ham cutters take care of every detail to ensure you enjoy an authentic treat. Every stage of its production is crucial, from the care of the animals it comes from to the curing and drying process, as well as the conditions in our stores or at home. Failure to control all these details could spoil the final result.
It's essential to understand that ham slicing is as important as any other part of the process because if it's not done correctly, it could diminish the nuances of our flagship product. At Enrique Tomás, aware of this, we always recommend that if you don't have the necessary tools or don't know how to slice ham, you should buy it already sliced. In our stores, you can purchase both machine-sliced and hand-sliced packs.
The perfect ham slice
Regarding this, it's important to note that while some people strongly advocate for hand slicing, the differences are practically imperceptible, and it takes many years of palate education to notice the nuances of both methods. Our work and practice for over four decades have shown us that good ham remains good whether it's sliced by machine or by hand. However, if you opt for the latter, make sure it's done by an expert.
Properly slicing ham is not easy because each slice of Iberian ham needs to have the exact thickness, thick enough for the flavor to be noticeable yet thin enough for the fat to melt in your mouth; the trick is to let the knife slide after each slice.
"Hand slicing has, unlike machine slicing, a certain ritual that enhances the enjoyment... It has, like all artisan or manual activities, a human connotation, a feeling, an energy, a 'je ne sais quoi' that machines lack, no matter how precise they are."
This is the explanation that Enrique Tomás himself offers in the book "Jamón para Dummies."
Books ''Jamón para dummies'' and ''Grandes Mentiras sobre el Jamón'' by Enrique Tomás
In summary, in our stores, you will find machine-sliced and hand-sliced ham, but regardless of the method, it's essential that the person doing the slicing is skilled. That way, you'll ensure it's just right!
What type of slicing to avoid
We've talked about ham slicing and the importance of each slice having the perfect thickness. But, are they all the same? The answer is no. You may have come across a pack of sliced ham with identical slices, all perfect for sandwiches. However, when you see this, be cautious. To achieve this appearance, some sellers shape pieces with others, freeze them, and then slice them.
At Enrique Tomás, we never, under any circumstances, follow this method or recommend it. This process only ends up removing all the nuances of Iberian ham because subjecting it to low temperatures eliminates its aroma.
That said, what's essential is not just knowing the difference between ham sliced by machine or by hand but making sure to buy it from the right establishment. That way, you can be sure that the meat you're going to enjoy has been cared for and pampered properly.
Now that you understand the implications of each slicing method, we recommend trying any of our hand-sliced products cut by our team of ham masters and professionals. When it comes to refining your palate...
Start savoring the world's best hand-sliced ham today!