Iberico Ham and its Competitors Around the World

Enjoy the best Iberico and Serrano Ham  Visit our shop!

Iberico ham is one of the most luxurious and reputable of cured meat products. Its well-deserved fame has spread across the globe. But elsewhere, especially in Europe, there are other, very similar products. Let's find out about them!

The hams of Italy and France

Since ancient times, the inhabitants of Rome copied the techniques used across their empire and Spanish ham production methods were no exception.

Today, Italy has a regional ham culture like that of Spain, with different areas excelling at different types of ham. Some of these are unheard-of outside Italy while others have gathered worldwide renown.

Prosciutto from Parma, for instance, is one of those that has made its mark on the outside world. Characterized by a procedure in which fat is removed by manual manipulation with salt for several days before being left to cure, Parma ham has become a common sight in delis and even supermarkets.

Meanwhile, La Mancha ham is a smoked boneless ham from Northeast Italy, while La Coppa comes from Calabria and is characterized by being boneless and by marinating for several days before being stuffed into natural casings and smoked, followed by a serveral-months-long curing process.

In France, there are also many types of ham. Often the hoof is removed in French hams, in contrast to Spanish hams. The ham known as Jambon Cru can have varying degrees of quality, depending on the curing time and other factors.

The best known ham regions in France are Bayonne and Ardenne, although most French regions have ham cultures of their own, using curing, smoking and other techniques to produce local delicacies.

Jamón jambon cru

French Jambon cru

Ham in the rest of the world

In other countries, there are products that are somewhat like Spanish ham, while never really approaching the quality and craftsmanship of the real thing.

In the USA, for instance, country ham, a product that has gained great fame in some states, especially in Virginia, is salted for over a month and usually cured for up to four months, and is almost always eaten cooked.

Germany also has its own ham culture. In Westphalia, they make a product surprisingly similar to the US Virginia or country ham. A fully-boned piece is marinated and salted, then smoked over wood chips before hanging.

Another place with a well-developed ham culture is China, where they make a Jinhua ham using similar technique, but with minor alterations that make for a very different finished product. Hungary's Mangalica ham has also attracted a following.

Named after the Mangalica breed of pigs which is only found in the region, it is made from Mangalica and Duroc and has high levels of marbling fat.

Other European nations, including Croatia, Romania, and the Czech Republic produce variants with similar techniques.

jamón country ham

Country Ham

Hams of the Iberian peninsula

When it comes to flavor, there's a single factor that has the greatest effect on quality: the pastureland in the Iberian peninsula is the best in the world, and the result is the ideal environment for raising pigs - and an undisputed place at the top of the world's ham producers.

Scientific data derived from literally hundreds of nutritional studies and results of competitions and international culinary fairs all agree: ham is the quintessential Iberian product and Iberico ham is the best of the best.

The best Iberian pasture is mostly in Spain, though it extends into Portugal, in such regions as Alentejo. While Portuguese ham is overshadowed by Spain in world renown, Portugal produces some excellent hams, many of which are very similar to their Spanish counterparts.

It's also posible to find some Spanish hams from white pigs in this area that would be familiar to a Spanish gourmand - Chaves, for example.

jamón dehesa

Spanish ham with meadowland in the background

The element that makes the difference to the Iberico ham more than any other is the pasture. Iberian pastures are suited to raising and fattening pigs on the 'montanero' ('mountainside') diet, meaning that the pigs eat wild natural grasses and acorns, resulting in the sought-after 'bellota' flavor pervading the meat.

This is the factor which makes the difference in international tastings, which over and again highlight the quality and intense flavor of Spanish acorn-fed Iberico ham.

This is made possible only through a strict quality control system and traceability through the production process, which ensures the purity of the breed, the adherence to a montanera fattening regime and the times and methods of salting, marinating and curing.

It is interesting to know the different techniques for making traditional products like Spanish ham, but it's impossible to escape the conclusion that Spanish acorn-fed Iberico ham is considered the best in the world, both for its variety and its quality.

This reputation can only hope to be maintained if the pastureland is preserved, and if the producers continue to use and refine the traditional techniques handed down to them by previous generations of craftsmen.

These techniques involve not additives and complex marinades, but the the gradual maturation of the natural flavor of acorn-fed Iberico pork to produce the world's finest ham.


  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

Cutting step Cutting step Cutting step Cutting step Cutting step

Enjoy the best Iberico and Serrano Ham Visit our shop!