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Home > Technical sheet > Iberian Ham – Origin

Iberian Ham – Origin

The Iberian ham, so called wrongly "Pata Negra", is a traditional Spanish cured ham holding a dominating role in the Spanish gastronomy. It is obtained from purebred pigs Iberian (“cerdo ibérico”), of black color. It must not be confused with the ham of Serrano, obtained in the same conditions and often in the same places, but from white pigs.


The Iberian pigs are brought up in total freedom in vast properties called in Spain "Fincas" situated in “Dehesa”, province of “Salamanca” in the North of Andalusia.

This typically Mediterranean natural space consists of vast pastures and mainly Holm oaks and cork oaks.

The Iberian pigs feed mainly on acorns (“Bellotas”). All these elements are indispensable to obtain an authentic Iberian ham of “Bellota”.

When arises the loafed (“Montanera”) from October till January, the pigs are thus going to feed almost exclusively on acorns: between 600 in 800 kg by pig.

The hams are then refined at least 24 months and in a optimal way 48 months. Iberian hams of “bellota” produced in “Estrémadure”, as well as in the Andalusia sierras, particularly to “Aracena” and to Jabugo (province of Huelva), to “Guijuelo” (province of Salamanca), and to “Los Pedroches” (province of Cordoba) are specially known.

Controlled Origin Label

The Iberian ham is settled by the royal decree 1083/2001 of October 15th, 2002 and the royal decree 1469/2007 of November 2nd, 2007. The naming "Jamón Ibéric " (“denominación of origen jamón ibérico”) is reserved for hams stemming from Iberian pigs.

The races with black dress or with black craws which we call in a excessive way “Pata Negra, "black leg". This term is not official because the other pig races somewhere else in Europe have a black dress or black craws as well and are not for all that pure bred Iberian.

Iberian hams also have located naming as they come from:

  • Huelva with Jabugo, who gives the most powerful but the least complex hams
  • Estrémadure with Montanchez, Valle of los pedroches
  • Salamanca with “Guijuelo” who, thanks to its climate, gives the most complex and the most delicious hams, everything in delicacy, for the real amateurs.


  • Jamón Ibérico of Cebo: "Iberian ham of force-feeding ", produced from purebred pigs Iberian fed by vegetables and by cereal.
  • Jamón ibérico of recebo: "Iberian ham of 2nd force-feeding ", produces from purebred pigs Iberian fed by a mixed food, acorns + complement to vegetables and cereal. This category should disappear because it is said uncontrollable by the quality producers and subject to all the drift and to all the deceits.
  • Jamón ibérico of bellota: "Iberian ham of acorn ", produced from Iberian pigs brought up freely in pastures and fed in 100 % of acorns and the other natural pastures.


We distinguish the following stages:

  • The cutting up of the animal
  • The refrigeration of rooms until obtaining of a temperature of 6 °C
  • The salting
  • The wash and rest, once the process of the ended salting, the hams are washed in the cold water to eliminate the salt, they are then stored in a room(chamber) where they stay during two months, what allows the distribution of the salt
  • The drying, which is made in natural dryers.

This process lasts between 12 and 48 months.

Properties of the species

The Iberian Pig has the characteristic to be able to store fat in his muscular tissues, what confers it its unique taste and he does not contain bad cholesterol (LDL) only of the HDL which eliminates the cholesterol of the organs which have it too much for the heart or the arteries to bring back it to the liver where it is eliminated. Please be aware, this doesn’t mean at all that its fat does not make you grow fat.

The three pillars of our quality

  1. Raw material. Pigs of Iberian pure 100 %, which accumulate their fat under the skin, and it infiltrate in their muscle structure, thanks to the daily exercise in the pastures. The Iberian pig transforms his food into proteins, phosphor, calcium and iron, fatty acids polished unsaturated, as the olive oil and in vitamins B1 and B2.
  2. Food with acorns, so we give to every pig one hectare of our own pastures situated in the Natural reserve “Sierra of Aracena”.
  3. Refining: only free sea air-dried salt and led to maturity during months.




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