Spanish Ham

The Iberian pig

The Iberian pig is an exemplary case of perfect livestock breeding; bred on a free range, it enjoys total freedom and is fed on a diet of natural products. There are two phases in the breeding process.
The first, or preparatory, phase begins once the animal has ended its suckling period and begins to eat grasses, seeds, bulbs and grain. This period lasts until it has grown to a weight of between 90 and 110 kgs. After this, in the fattening, or “ montanera ” (free range) phase, it starts a diet based on acorns, holm oak and cork oak buds. This fruit is rich in carbohydrates and fats, especially oleic acid, and this explains why Iberian pork products are considered so healthy.

The Iberian pigIn the fattening stage the pig can increase its weight by over one kilogramme per day thanks to its daily consumption of around 10 kilos of acorns. To follow this diet, however, the animal needs continuous exercise to search out the acorns, and this raises the quality of its meat, making its ham the most succulent and well known among consumers. As the pig wanders around the meadows of Extremadura it eats not only acorns but also different kinds of aromatic plants, which later produce the unmistakable aroma of its meat.

Ham produced following this free range, or “montanera”, method is classed as “Bellota” (acorn) Iberian Ham, and is distinguished from the “Recebo” Iberian Ham obtained from pigs which have been fed on natural fodder (mainly maize) in their breeding and fattening stages.


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