History of Iberico Sausages

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To understand the historical origin of Iberico sausages, we need to look back across centuries of Iberian history as a slow process of development occurred across the peninsula. It's quite likely that the Iberico ham we know today is the most important gastronomic heritage we have from ancient times, predating even classical antiquity.

It's impossible to think of Iberico sausages and ham without thinking of salt. It's known that the use of salt dates back at least to the 3rd millenium BC in Egypt, though it's probably even older. The discovery of salt was a revolution in food because it allowed for preservation with much more flavor. Prior to this, it was only possible to preserve foods by smoking them, which didn't make for nuances of aroma.

Once the technique of salt preservation reached the ears of Iberian herders and traders, it took off in a big way!

Iberico sausages: famous the world over

The first document we have that mentions Iberico sausages - pernae, in Latin - was written by Cato in the third century BC. Cato described the procedure for curing hams and sausages in some detail, discussing salting, marinating and curing practices similar to those we see today.

It's clear that the ham culture Cato was describing was new to him, but already ancient to its practitioners, and we know that to the ancient Celtic inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula, pork was one of the most highly valued table meats and had high economic value.

Embutidos ibéricos

Spanish hams curing in a cellar

Later documents make clear that ancient Romans were great fans of Iberico sausages and ham, and regularly consumed Iberico sausages and hams from the Iberian peninsula with great relish.

After the fall of Rome, it turned out that the Visigoths, too, were partial to ham, and with the arrival of Christianity, ham and pork products generally took on new significance, being forbidden to the two main other religious groups in the Iberian peninsula, Jews and Muslims. As a result of this division, pork butchers were sometimes elevated to the status of defenders of the faith!

Chorizo lightens up

Other sausages like chorizo, salami or loin sausage show up in ancient texts to: we can find references to them in Aristophanes, for instance. However, they did not become truly popular until the sixteenth century, when previously unknown spices from the East began to arrive in Spanish ports,including pepper and paprika.

Embutidos ibéricos

Paprika, a vital ingredient in many Iberico sausages

It is from this moment that Spanish chorizo began to stand out from the similar products of other countries in Iberia. The innovative flavor, aroma and red color that accompanied the use of paprika as a major ingredient meant that these products became much sought-after. Regions also began to diversify and specialize, each one being famous for its own unique sausages, something that is still true today.

There are numerous historical anecdotes referencing the popularity of Iberico sausage, including one about Alfonso XII who was passionate about Iberico salchichon and always made sure to buy several kilos whenever he was in Vic.

New discoveries, new flavors

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of devices such as the grinder and stuffer, together with the discovery of techniques to improve the preservation of raw meat and other materials, the Iberico sausage industry was transfigured. Most of the change was in quality rather than speed, however, since it's impossible to make a real Iberico sausage fast! If the traditional steps aren't followed, the result simply isn't up to standard.

Embutidos ibéricos

A grinder and stuffer for making Iberico sausage

In fact, scientific and technical advances have allowed producers to create ever-better sausages. Partly this is due to scientific study of traditional methods, enabling producers to streamline and focus their methods on the practices that work the best. Now, from field through slaughterhouse to sausage, the best combination of species, time and seasonings are known far better than before.

However, it's still the traditional curing process that makes an Iberico sausage the product that millions love all over the world and a hallmark of Iberico culture.


  1. Types of Iberico Ham
  2. How to Consume Iberico Ham
  3. How to Cut Iberico Ham | Carve Iberico Ham
  4. How to Preserve and Store Iberico Ham
  5. Pairing of Iberico Ham
  6. Quality Laws for Iberico Ham | The New Law 2014
  7. The Dehesa | The Meadow
  8. DOP Protected Source of Origin of Iberico Ham
  9. Nutritional Properties of Acorn-fed Iberico Ham
  10. Recipes with Spanish Ham
  11. Differences Between Iberico Ham and Serrano Ham
  12. Differences Between Shoulder and Iberico ham
  13. Differences Between Iberico Ham and Iberico Shoulder
  14. Iberico Ham and its Competitors Around the World
  15. Nutritional Properties of Iberico Ham
  16. Protected Denominations of Origin of Iberico Ham
  17. Production Areas of Spanish Ham and Iberico Ham
  18. Spanish Ham – Machine cut or Hand cut
  19. Museums of Iberico Ham Worldwide
  20. Inside Secrets of Iberico Ham Tasting
  21. Tourist Trails for Iberico Ham Aficionados
  22. Acorn-fed Iberico ham and the ideal pairing
  23. The Production Process of Iberico Sausages
  24. History of Iberico Sausages
  25. VAT and Spanish Ham: Frequently Asked Questions
  26. Spanish Ham in Great Spanish Literature
  27. Curiosities of Iberico ham
  28. How to Store Your Serrano Ham
  29. Regulations and the Quality of Serrano Ham
  30. Preparation of Serrano Ham
  31. Denomination of Origin of Serrano Ham
  32. Nutritional Properties of Serrano Ham
  33. Recipes With Serrano Ham
  34. Types of Serrano Ham
  35. Pairing of Serrano Ham
  36. How to Consume Serrano Ham
  37. How to Cut Serrano Ham | Carve Serrano Ham
  38. All the Secrets of Pata Negra Ham Tasting
  39. Choosing a Good Ham Holder
  40. Pata Negra Ham and Pasture
  41. The secrets of pairing pata negra ham
  42. What is the best para negra ham?
  43. Is the term pata negra correct?
  44. How can you know which ham to buy?
  45. Why is good ham so expensive?
  46. How to buy ham from online stores
  47. Myths and Truths, Benefits and Prejudices of Ham
  48. Is Iberian ham fattening?
  49. What to do with the ham bone?
  50. Why do we usually hang ham?
  51. Ham and Pregnancy: Can Iberian ham be included in pregnant women’s diets?
  52. The Role of Ham in a Child’s Growth and Develeopment
  53. Tips for Preserving Ham
  54. What is ham shaping and why is it done?
  55. New Technologies and Ham – MRI in Ham Tasting – Spectral Images
  56. The Iberian Pig Begins to Migrate
  57. Cured Sausages: Origin, Composition and Classification
  58. Production of Hams and Pork Shoulder Hams
  59. Iberian Ham Tasting Guide
  60. Quality: Differential Elements Between Ham and Iberico Cured Meats

Ham carving manual

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