Iberico Ham from Los Pedroches: the Jamon Pata Negra produced in Cordoba
Thirty-two towns in Los Pedroches Valley are covered by this new Jamon Pata Negra Designation of Origin. The valley takes its name from the town of Pedroche, the oldest in the area.
The offices of the Los Pedroches PDO Regulatory Board are in Villanueva de Córdoba. Its bylaws were approved in early 2006 and it now counts 150 breeders and 17 processing plants.
Production and processing areas
Woodlands in Los Pedroches Valley
Pigs for hams covered by this PDO are reared and fattened in woodlands populated by holm oaks, cork oaks and gall oaks in the municipalities of Alcaracejos, Añora, Belalcázar, Bélmez, Los Blázquez, Cardeña, Conquista, Dos Torres, Espiel, Fuente La Lancha, Fuente Obejuna, La Granjuela, El Guijo, Hinojosa del Duque, Pedroche, Peñarroya-Pueblonuevo, Pozoblanco, Santa Eufemia, Torrecampo, Valsequillo, Villanueva de Córdoba, Villanueva del Duque, Villanueva del Rey, Villaralto and El Viso, and at altitudes above 300 metres in the municipalities of Adamuz, Hornachuelos, Montoro, Obejo, Posadas, Villaharta and Villaviciosa.
Pig breeds suitable for Los Pedroches ham
Breeds admitted by this PDO are the Iberian purebred or crosses of Iberian with Duroc-Jersey, as long as they come from purebred Iberian mothers and are at least 75% Iberian stock. However, the Regulatory Board promotes the development of farms for breeding and rearing purebred Iberian pigs.
Characteristics of Los Pedroches Designation of Origin
Jamon Los Pedroches PDO logo
Bellota-grade iberico ham seal and band
There are three grades of iberico hams according to the pigs' diet before slaughter:
- Bellota-grade, or range-finished pigs
- Pigs starting the fattening period weighing between 80.5 and 115 kg, not less than 10 months old and gaining at least 51.75 kg (approximately 50% of entry weight) on a diet of grasses and acorns. These pigs must be butchered before 31 March or, in exceptional circumstances, 30 April. They are identified by an unbreakable black (purebred) or red (cross-breed) seal indicating "Bellota Los Pedroches".
- Recebo-grade pigs
- Pigs starting the fattening period weighing between 80.5 and 115 kg, not less than 10 months old and gaining at least 28.75 kg (approximately 30% of entry weight). The fattening period ends with a diet that is almost exclusively grasses, natural fodder and authorised compound feed until the animal adds approximately another 30% of its entry weight. These pigs must be butchered before 30 May and are identified by an unbreakable seal. This category will soon disappear due to legislative changes introduced in 2014.
- Cebo-grade pigs
- Pigs with an entry weight between 80.5 and 115 kg fattened on the open range with a diet of grasses, natural fodder and compound feed authorised by the Regulatory Board, consisting of cereals, legumes and oilseeds. The distance between watering places and feeders is at least 100 metres to make sure the animals get enough exercise, and no more than 12 pigs are allowed per hectare. The cuts are identified by an unbreakable green seal indicating "Los Pedroches".
Hams and shoulder cuts covered by the PDO are processed in the following stages: salting (3-10 days), rinsing, settling or salt balancing (1-3 months), drying (6 months) and ageing in the cellar (minimum 12-18 months).
The natural drying process takes place in drying rooms on the upper floors of the production buildings, and the cuts are aged in cellars on the ground floors. Artificial changes in temperature and humidity are not allowed.
The minimum processing time for cuts as stipulated by the Regulatory Board depends on weight and grade. It must be over 18 months for hams and over 12 months for shoulders.
Denomination of Origin Los Pedroches
Jamon Pata Negra from Los Pedroches
- Outer aspect: Long and slender with the typical V shape known as the Serrano cut. The hoof is intact.
- Weight: Not less than 6 kg for hams or 4 kg for shoulder cuts
- Colouring and appearance on cutting: Characteristic colour from rosy to purplish-red with marbling fat throughout the flesh.
- Flavour and aroma: Very slightly salty or sweet. Pleasant characteristic aroma.
- Texture: Smooth and tender.
- Fat: The fat is glossy and white with pinkish or yellowish tinges. Aromatic, with a pleasing taste. The consistency varies according to the proportion of acorns in the diet.
Córdoba Ham & Shoulder (Denomination of Origin Los Pedroches)
The first year's production of Los Pedroches Designation of Origin totalled 17,532 hams and shoulder cuts, which went on sale in late 2006.
The expected production for 2016 is 60,000 cuts (jamon and paletilla), close to 300% more than 10 years before. Four out of five come from purebred Iberian pigs, and one out of five from cross-breeds.
The 2011/2012 campaign was the biggest in terms of production, with nearly 90,000 individual hams made:
- Iberian pigs subjected to D.O. regulations: 23.500
- Acorn-fed purebred pigs: 20.307 (86% of the total)
- Acorn-fed cross-breed pigs: 1.301 (6% of the total)
- Recebo purebred pigs: 1.599 (7% of the total)
- Recebo cross-breed pigs: 49 (0% of the total)
- Compound feed-fed purebred pigs: 241 (1% of the total)
- Compound feed-fed cross-breed pigs: 3 (0% of the total)
A fall in demand due to the economic crisis meant that only half the number of pigs were slaughtered the following year, but demand has been rising gradually ever since:
- Iberian pigs subjected to D.O. regulations: 16.180
- Acorn-fed purebred pigs: 11.793 (73% of the total)
- Acorn-fed cross-breed pigs: 1.693 (10% of the total)
- Recebo purebred pigs: 372 (2% of the total)
- Recebo cross-breed pigs: 18 (0.1% of the total)
- Compound feed-fed purebred pigs: 694 (4% of the total)
- Compound feed-fed cross-breed pigs: 1.610 (10% of the total)
Los Pedroches Ham Trade Fair
The Feria del Jamón has been held in Villanueva de Córdoba every October since 2005. Some of the most notable activities to take place at the fair are the National Ham Cutters Contest, various talks on technical aspects, and the sampling of products at very reasonable prices.
Ibérico de Bellota Ham in Spain
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