Production Areas of Spanish Ham and Iberico Ham

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Spanish Ham is a food that's present in virtually every Spanish household, regardless of the specific culinary traditions of regions and individuals. Let's look at the most important areas ham actually comes from, though - the parts of the Iberian peninsula where ham and Iberico ham is actually made.

Spanish ham: A national heritage

According to AECOSAN, there were more than 18,000 establishments involved in the production and processing of ham in Spain in 2013.

AECOSAN went on to report that in Spain, 31% of all meat products consumed are ham and pork. While that's crucially important from an economic point of view, it also reinforces the place of ham as a centerpiece of Iberian cuisine.

Without going into the various grades of quality that are available on the market, it's obvious that areas with more producers are to be found in the areas with the best pastureland.

In Spain that means looking around Salamanca, Extremedura and Andalucia, which together account for up to 40% of registered producers. This finding could lead us to think that 40% of the hams sold in Spain are premium, acorn-fed Iberico, but as we'll see, this is far from true.

jamón pata negra

Iberico or Serrano?

Throughout Spain, there are some areas whose main economic engine is pork production but which are not producing Iberico products.

These are to be found in Aragon, Castilla y Leon, Murcia, Castilla La Mancha, Catalonia, Asturias, La Rioja, and Navarre, as well as in specific provinces like Granada, where Trévelez and de Teruel ham is made, both protected by the DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) scheme.

The Spanish hams produced in these regions come mostly from white Duroc pigs, and generally these major production areas exhibit some common features: a dry climate with low humidity and cool nights, suited to curing hams, is the main one.

The only regions that do not have ham factories and drying facilities are the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, as well as the provinces of Lleida, Alava and Guipuzcoa, where other types of sausages and meats are produced, which have gone some way towards making these areas famous gastronomically in their own right.

Iberico ham

Returning to the major provinces of Iberico ham production, it's important to note that not every ham from these areas is of the same quality, but Iberico ham can only come from these provinces.

As a result, the provinces themselves tend to specialize in quality, and AECOSAN reports that 94% of the hams sold in these areas are Iberico hams, made with pork from at least 50% Iberico pigs.

Not only must the pigs be 50% Iberico but they must be first-generation hybrids whose other parent, the sire,must be 100% Duroc.

However, many of these pigs are then fed on modern diets or on a hybrid feeding regime that includes both modern feeds and traditional pasturing.

Therefore, the majority of these pigs don't go on to become the Iberico ham that makes the world lick its lips. In fact, the law governing the production of Iberico ham is very strict and traceability is built into the production process to prevent fraud and preserve the good name of Iberico ham.

There are four DOPs (Protected Denominations of Origin) covering the areas of production mentioned above: DOP Guijuelo, DOP Dehesa de Extremadura, DOP Huelva and DOP Valle de Los Pedroches.

It's important to remember we can only speak of acorn-fed Iberico ham if the animals are Iberico, and have been reared and fattened exclusively on the 'montanera' feeding regime, which consists entirely of free range grazing on traditional mountainside pastures, resulting in a high proportion of acorns in the diet, influencing flavor, texture and nutritional content.

Don't be fooled: look for the "100% acorn-fed Iberico" label, and offer your guests a Spanish ham like none they've ever tasted before!


  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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