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Jamón (Spanish pronunciation:, plural: jamones) is a dry-cured ham made in Spain. It is one of the most well-known Spanish meals in the world (along with other dishes such as gazpacho and paella). It’s also a common ingredient in tapas.
In Spain, most jamón is known as jamón serrano.
Jamón is usually eaten in slices, which are either manually carved off a leg on a jamonero stand with a sharp thin slicing knife or sliced from the deboned meat with a rotatory cold-cut slicer. It’s also commonly taken in little servings in any shape.
Jamón is comparable to Portuguese presunto and Italian prosciutto in terms of taste and texture, but it is distinguished by a longer curing period (up to 18 months) that gives it a drier texture, deeper color, and stronger flavor than the former.
Because it includes the bone and non-edible fat, a full Jamón leg is significantly less expensive than sliced Jamón. The product must be consumed as soon as possible once the exterior fat layers are removed and the meat is revealed, as a progressive drying and deterioration process begins. For restaurateurs and retailers, this isn’t an issue because they move through stuff much faster than an individual. Home users prefer sliced products, whether they are freshly cut from a deli counter, commercially pre-packaged, or vacuum preserved. Jamón is fine to eat as long as it is maintained in its leg in a dry, cold location away from direct sunlight, but once sliced away from the leg, it must be kept refrigerated.
In some areas, jamón is smoked and consumed, primarily for personal consumption. This is widespread in sections of Castile and León, as well as Extremadura’s south. The texture of this jamón is firmer, and the flavor is smoky and salty.
Although widely available (albeit at a premium) in Spain and in parts of the European Union, import duties and trade or food safety restrictions that apply to foreign meat products in international markets can significantly raise prices while also creating scarcity, making jamón a prohibitively expensive product to import and sell.
Based on the pig breed and protected designations, there are two primary commercial labels for jamón:
Jamón ibérico is a delicacy prepared from the black Iberian pig that may be eaten all over the world.
Most other types of ham are called jamón serrano (Spanish for “sierra ham”).
Jamón serrano (Spanish for “serrano ham,” or “ham from the sierra,” or “ham from the mountains”) is a generic word for any dry-cured jamón manufactured in Spain, as contrast to jamón de York, which is baked or boiled in salty liquid.
It is, however, most accurately ascribed to jamón made from white and/or non-Ibérico pig breeds. In Spain, this is the most widely manufactured and consumed jamón. The bulk of jamones serranos come from either a landrace white pig breed or a commercial breed like Duroc. Jamón serrano is made from compound-fed white pigs and is referred to as jamón reserva, jamón curado, and jamón extra, among other terms.
TSG (Traditional Specialties Guaranteed) designation is given to jamón serrano. TSG certification verifies that a food product objectively exhibits defined features that distinguish it from all others in its category, as well as that its raw ingredients, composition, or manufacturing technique have been constant for at least 30 years.
Fresh hams are cut and cleaned before being stacked and coated with salt for two weeks to suck out excess moisture and prevent spoilage. After that, the hams are cleaned and allowed to dry for roughly six months. Finally, depending on the temperature, as well as the size and kind of ham being cured, the hams are hung in a cool, dry spot for six to 18 months. Because the drying sheds (secaderos) are often located at higher heights, the ham is known as “mountain ham.”