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Spanish Ham from Jabugo

Spanish Ham from Jabugo (Huelva)

Ibérico Products from Jabugo available at IberGour

5J Cinco Jotas Jabugo Iberica Bellota Shoulder
5J Cinco Jotas Bellota Shoulder starting at £147.12 paletilla weighing 4.75 kg
Stock: 23 paletillas see all weights
bone-in, boneless or sliced
 
Jabugo Shoulder Cuts
(Paletillas)
Bone-in, Boneless & Sliced
5J Cinco Jotas Jabugo Iberico Bellota Ham
5 Jotas Bellota Ham starting at £461.83 jamón weighing 7.25 kg
Stock: 19 jamones (more in 1 day) see all weights
bone-in, boneless or sliced
 
Jabugo Hind Leg Cuts
(Jamones)
Bone-in, Boneless & Sliced
Organic Las Lanchas Iberico Bellota Ham
Organic Las Lanchas Bellota Ham £406.14 jamon weighing 6.75 kg
Stock: 1 jamon (more in 3 days) see all weights
bone-in, boneless or sliced
 
Bone-in, Boneless & Sliced

"Jamón de Jabugo" is ham that has been produced and prepared in Jabugo (Huelva, Spain), a village that belongs to the Jamón de Huelva Designation of Origin and has a total of 26 producers registered with the Producers' Association.

In this page...


Jabugo

Jabugo (Huelva, Spain)
The village of Jabugo

Jabugo is located in the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche nature park, in the northern part of the province of Huelva (Andalusia, Spain). Situated 658 meters above sea level, it has a population of 2,600 inhabitants.

In Jabugo, productive activity essentially revolves around the holm oaks, grains, olive trees, pigs and pork products (jamones and chacinas) for which it is famous. Legend has it that hams were created when a pig one day fell into a gully with very salty water, and drowned. Shepherds found the pig and roasted it, discovering that the meat - particularly the hind leg - had a pleasant flavour. Later they discovered that when the hind leg was salted it lasted longer without losing its flavour, and the method was thereafter perfected. Today, spanish Iberian ("Ibérico") ham constitutes one of the world's most exquisite products.

Pigs and the "dehesa"

Pigs pasturing in a Jabugo dehesa
Pigs pasturing in a Jabugo dehesa

Pigs here are either pure Iberian breed (black and "retinto") or Duroc-Jersey crosses with 75% Iberian blood. In Jabugo there is also a native strain known as "Manchado de Jabugo" because of the white spots on its skin ("manchado" translates literally as "stained"). Its flesh is red, and its fat is very soft and grayish-yellow in colour.

Pigs begin foraging upon reaching a weight of about 90 Kg, and continue until attaining their ideal weight of around 170 Kg, between the months of January and February.

They grow in an ecosystem, the "dehesa", that is similar to the dehesa de Extremadura: large tracts of sparsely wooded land with scattered trees, mainly holm oaks. Iberian breed pigs are the only animals of this species in which stored fat is redistributed thoughout the body, infiltrating the muscle fibers. When the pig has consumed a diet with a high acorn content this fat is of superior quality, giving the flesh its characteristic texture, aroma and flavour.

More about ham...

Jabugo ham slices
Jabugo ham slices
Quality labels for D.O. Huelva-Jabugo hams
Official Huelva-Jabugo ham PDO labels. From top to bottom: Summum (acorn-fed purebred Iberian pigs), Excellens (acorn-fed cross-bred pigs) and Selección (fed with compound feed and raised on the open range). Source: D.O.P. Jamon de Huelva Jabugo.

Salting of Jabugo hams is done with sea salt. Hams then undergo a natural drying and maturation process in a bodega for a total of almost 3 years, after which they are tested. For this purpose a tibia bone from a horse or cow, or a fine, sharp wooden tool is inserted into each of the three ham joints to determine whether it has completed the final stage of the curing process and acquired optimum flavour for consumption.

Jabugo hams are long and slender, with the characteristic shape given by the V-shaped "Serrano" cut, as it is known; they also bear a brand mark on the skin. The hoof is black, and the outer fat is soft and smooth in texture. They are notable for the quantity of fat marbling their flesh, giving them a delectable texture.

Iberico de "bellota" quality Jabugo ham comes from pigs that have had a diet exclusively of acorns and grasses during the montanera (finishing period), as they graze and forage in the dehesa woodland. Iberico "cebo" quality Jabugo ham is from pigs which have eaten high quality commercial feed authorized by the Producers' Association.

The ham curing process takes from 18 to 30 months from start to finish, including cutting, salting, washing, drying and maturation. Depending on the weight of the ham the curing time may be longer. For shoulder cuts, which are smaller, the curing process lasts between 10 and 18 months, although larger pieces may take longer.

Jabugo ham provides the most intense flavour and longest-lasting aftertaste of all. Guijuelo ham, on the other hand, usually has the most delicate flavour, while hams from Extremadura and Los Pedroches are of intermediate strength. This difference is not primarily due to the raw material, but it is influenced to a large extent by the production process employed and the area in which the curing process takes place. The Sierra de Huelva is warmer and more humid than the region of Guijuelo (Salamanca), and this means that a little more salt is required to prepare the ham. The native floras - both bacterial and mycological - influence the complex metabolic processes that the ham undergoes during its maturation in cellars, lending it a unique bouquet.

Ham & Shoulder from Jabugo

Some figures...

In 2014, the Producers' Association of the "Jamón de Huelva" Designation of Origin awarded certification of maximum quality ("Bellota Summum" Iberico products) to 35.166 hind leg hams, most of them from Jabugo, Cumbres Mayores, Cortegana y Aracena.

See also

Ibérico de Bellota Ham in Spain

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