PROCESSING IBERICO HAM
The minimum curing time of the Iberian ham is 18 months, but an acorn fed Iberico ham must go through between 36 and 48 months of the curing process.
Larger portions require a longer curing process than smaller portions, therefore it is a carefully monitored process to ensure each piece is brought to the highest standards.
Once the animals have been sacrificed, the long process of curing the product begins, which is divided into
PROCESSING IBERICO HAM
After the pigs are sacrificed, the freshly cut hams are covered with sea salt up to ten days. The salting time will vary depending on the weight of the piece and its degree of purity. The rule of thumb is 1 day per two pounds of meat. The salting room is kept between 0-3°C at 85-95% humidity. After this period, the hams are rinsed in lukewarm water to remove salt crystals from the surface. 5o C and with a relative humidity around 70% -90%. During this period the salt will also contribute to the development of color and aromas typical of cured products.
The ham is then moved to a “secadero”, or natural drying area, where temperature and humidity are controlled through ventilation or natural windows. Temperature ranges from 15° to 30° C for the 6 to 12 month drying period. This period of rest combines the fusion and progression of the infiltrated fat until it reaches a uniform distribution in the muscular tissue.
This stage lasts between 6 and 9 months.
The hams are rinsed in lukewarm water to remove salt crystals from the surface. At the end of the washing stage, each ham is inspected one by one. Finally they are hung from a rope and introduced into a chamber to begin balancing the saline or “settlement”. This chamber will slowly begin to remove the moisture from each ham, until it achieves the correct diffusion of the salt between the different muscle masses in the ham.
This settling process takes place at controlled temperatures of between 0 ° and 60 ° C and 80% to 90% relative humidity. The duration of the salt balance process is about 35 to 45 days depending on the type of ham. The process gives the hams a significantly denser consistency, due to all the removed moisture
When leaving the dryers or “secadero” , the pieces are classified by weight, quality and conformation and then pass to the natural cellars to reach the last stage of curing: the ripening process. In the cellars, the temperature oscillates between 15 ° and 20 ° C and with relative humidities around 60-80%.
During maturation, the ham undergoes a series of enzymatic and biochemical changes, which, over time, give rise to the excellent qualities of aromas, flavor and texture.
INSPECTION AND APPROVAL
At the end of the maturation begins a rigorous selection stage. “The draft" technique is carried out by means of which the sensorial characteristics of each ham and trowel are checked. The draft is performed by the Master Jamonero (DO inspector) who with years of knowledge and a few traditional tools will determine whether a ham is ready or needs more time to complete its journey to the plate. A fine beef bone is introduced in several points on the piece and examined for smell and appearance.
Once this phase is over, and the ham has been deemed ready, and the processing is over. Now you just needed to enjoy it!