THE ACORN & THE FAT
The Iberian breed of pigs could be bred anywhere in the world, but the ham will never have the flavor of the Spanish ham. Why? The key is the animal feed.
The Iberian pig lives in freedom grazing on pasture, an ideal habitat for its fattening, because in addition to natural pasture it eats small insects and acorns, fruit of the holm oaks, cork trees and gall oaks.
Acorn has a bittersweet flavor and it is a feast of taste for the animal, which deftly separates with its teeth the edible part of the fruit and discards the peel.
The taste of Iberian ham is a fusion of proteins from grass, carbohydrates from acorns and other food intakes the animal has eaten occasionally on its trips around the countryside, as small insects, snails or figs, which will give the meat a touch of unique flavor.
Acorns are also rich in starch, sugar and unsaturated fatty acids such as palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic acids. Fat marbling infiltrated into the pig meat thanks to its exercising of walking through the fields defines an acorn-fed Iberian ham.
Contrary to what one might think, due to its low caloric content and its high content of oleic acid –beneficial for “good cholesterol”– the ham is included in specific diets.