Ibérico ham is considered one of the jewels of world gastronomy. Spain is the world’s only producer of Jamón Ibérico (also called pata negra), as it is made with an ancient breed of pig found only on the Iberian Peninsula.
Jamón Ibérico “Iberian ham”, according to Spain’s Denominacion de Origen rules on food products, may be made from black Iberian pigs, or cross-bred pigs as long as they are at least 75% Iberico. The word “puro” (pure, referring to the breed) can be added to the previous qualities when both the father and mother of the slaughtered animal are of pure breed and duly registered on the pedigree books held by official breeders. The term “pata negra” refers to the black hoof of the Iberico breed.
The purebred pigs are all born and raised by their farmers. COVAP raises mainly 100% purebred Ibérico pigs and uses only 100% purebred pigs to produce Dehesa Cordobesa® products. The pigs roam on almost one million acres of Dehesa (acorn tree forest) in the Valley of the Pedroches in the province of Córdoba, Spain. Each pig has almost 2 acres to itself and feasts on acorns from Encina Oak trees, which are considered to be the sweetest in Spain.
It is here they allow their 100% purebred Ibérico pigs to roam freely until the day of their “sacrifice” arrives. During autumn and winter, the pigs feed on the acorns (bellota), which contribute to the meat’s juicy flavor and marbled appearance. The meat is dried and cured for 90 days to develop its unparalleled flavor.
Jamones de bellota are prized both for their smooth texture and rich, savory taste. A good ibérico ham has regular flecks of intramuscular fat (marbling). Because of the pig’s diet of acorns, much of the fat is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.
The total proportion of unsaturated fatty acids in cured Iberico hams that have
consumed a diet of acorns is over 75%, making it the most “cardiohealthy” of
all animal fats, even healthier than some fats of plant origin. The breed of pigs
is not the only explanation; their staple diet of acorns and grasses also plays an
What makes Ibérico ham different? It is the result of several factors all working together: the breed, its diet, the environment where it is reared, and the artisan know how.
In Spain, it is common to see the whole ham resting on a holder for family members to slice and enjoy at any time of day. The ham is sliced paper-thin and served on warm plates for optimum flavor.
Jamon Ibérico has only recently become available in the United States and we are proud to offer this extraordinary Spanish delicacy.