Transforming the leg into a ham is an traditional and natural process dating back from the tradition of ancient people of salting the animal flesh for preserving it and use it after the pig slaughtering season. In Spain, this familiar tradition of squeezing pig products to eat them several months later led to what is today’s Spanish gastronomy marvel: the know-how of Iberian Ham.
This Mediterranean gastronomy gem became possible thanks the knowledge passed on from one generation to the next, the pig crossbreads resulting in the current Iberian breed, the optimization of the porcines breeding and fattening techniques, and the unique intake of the pasture.
With no haste, noises or external agents other than the salt, the humidity, the heat and the breeze of the mountains, the leg becomes the ham.
First stage: Curing. The legs are buried in salt in a ratio of 1 day/kg of the piece of meat. They are washed, left to drain and cured for 60-90 days in optimum altitude, humidity and temperature conditions.
Second stage: Sweating. Folk wisdom taught the current ham industry the care put in the silent process applied on legs. The craftsman pays attention to detail so that not an extra breath nor a missing halo of light spoils this six-month period during which the pieces shrink and condense every 24 hours, in response to the changes of temperature in the mountains.
Third stage: Ripening. From the production facilities upper floors to the cellars. It is autumn, the perfect time to stabilize the temperature and wait for the fat to stabilize so the ham acquires its unique flavor. Two years after the pig slaugthering, the ham master (Maestro Jamonero) will prick the hams piece by piece and will use his sense of smell to decide whether more time is needed or it is time to move to the consumption stage.