The Iberico de Bellota ham is the best ham in the the world, famous wherever it goes and recognized as an emblem of Spanish gastronomy.
But not all Iberian products are Iberico de Bellota and in fact, in order to use this qualifier, cured products must meet certain standards. We explain everything in the Glossary of terms of Enrique Tomás.
The Iberico de Bellota Ham (Acorn-fed)
The Iberico de Bellota ham is a jewel of gastronomy, a product that has been pampered from the breeding of the pig to the delicate caring in the dryer room, but not any ham can be an acorn-fed Iberian ham.
To begin with, let’s talk about pigs, although in theory any pig can be used to make ham, only Iberian pigs can produce Iberian hams and only these can be acorn-fed.
So, although it is true that the Iberian pigs are fed differently, only the one destined to produce products with the’acorn’ category (hams, ham shoulders, sausages) will be fed on them during the period known as the Montanera, while the rest will be fed only on feed and cereals.
When feeding with acorns, it is only valid if it has been during the Montanera season, specifically between October 15 and March 31. If the pigs have been fed during this period in the authorised pastureland, they may be considered as Iberian acorn-fed pigs. As for the regulations, it is established that if it is acorn-fed, the pig must have gained the last 50 kg of weight in the pastureland, complemented by what the pasture has to offer: grass, grass, roots, worms, etc.
The same legislation states that terms such as ‘Dehesa’,’acorn’ and “montanera” or images evoking these concepts can only be used to refer to acorn-fed Iberian ham, irrespective of the purity of the breed of pig. As far as labelling is concerned, acorn-fed Iberian products are divided in two, depending on the purity of the pig’s breed:
- Black seal: used only for 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham
- Red seal: identifies the Iberian acorn-fed ham that comes from pigs crossed with Duroc Yersey and raised in the pastures. The difference with the previous one is the percentage of purity of breed that this case is only 75 or 50%.