La Jamoteca Blog

How to pick a (good) Serrano or Iberico ham

How to pick a (good) Serrano or Iberico ham
In the previous two posts we spoke about the nicknames of the ham that can mislead you, and also mentioned the "Norma de Calidad" or "Iberico Ham Production Protocol". The next step is, therefore, how do I pick a good ham? No matter if get it at LA JAMOTECA or somewhere else, these are the points you have to check: 
1.- Budget: please, understand that Iberico is more expensive than any other ham in the market. Serrano is the most affordable ham (around $300) while the cheapest Iberico is around $500 or so. Do not expect Iberico to be at the same level as Serrano, as you can not expect a Ferrari at the same price point as a Kia, right? And if you ever find it I can tell there is something fishy there...
2.- Label: for the producer to comply with the "Iberico Ham Protocol" that we mentioned above, the label must read: feeding factor - breeding factor. (ie: Acorn Fed 100% Iberico ham). If the label doesn't point out the breeding, chances are it's not 100% iberico (despite it may be sold as that).
3.- Tag's color: Every Iberico ham must bring a tag with a color that identifies the  feeding and the breeding factors of the pig the ham comes from. There are 4 different tags/colors: 
  • White: a 50% iberico breed of pig (crossed bred: mother 100% Iberico and father 100% duroc, in most of the cases) fed on grains. This is the entry level: it's a good ham, but far from the other Iberico options. 
  • Light green: same 50% Iberico breed as above, but in this case the pig is free range, so fed on grasses and whatever the animal finds in the forest. Please note that none of these two options are available at LA JAMOTECA. 
  • Dark green: purebred Iberico (from mother and father 100% iberico breed), free range, pasture raised. This is a better quality than the previous two. 
  • Black: this is the top of the line, the best ham in the market, the 100% iberico breed of pig fed on acorns, also known as "Bellota" in Spanish and also the only one (let me repeat this: the only one) that can be called "Pata Negra". 
4.- Make sure your ham has a good size (16-18lbs is considered to be a good size), evenly cured, with a gold color fat
Just follow this easy checklist...and enjoy!