Serrano ham is everything that is produced with the hind legs of white pigs and, although its flavour is also delicious, it has nothing to do with that of Iberian ham, as the latter is more oily thanks to the ability of pigs on our peninsula to infiltrate fat into the muscle. Thus, how is Serrano ham made? Is the curing process very different from that of the Iberian? Enrique Tomás will answer all your questions in this regard!
Curing of Serrano ham
In addition to coming from different breeds of pig, the most obvious difference between the Serrano and the Iberian Ham is their price. The curing process of the Serrano is considerably shorter and this, together with the fact that the quality of both is not the same (that of the Iberian’s is superior), reduces its cost.
Although the curing phases are the same, for the last one to be carried out in the right way, the Serrano needs considerably fewer months. As with Iberian pork, once the hind legs of the pigs have been cut, peeled and cleaned, the “cocinado” (- the cooking) begins, as Enrique Tomás likes to call it, and consists of:
- Salting: the hams are buried in salt so that they can be dehydrated and their flavour intensified and at the same time the action of bacteria is prevented. As with the Iberian ham curing process, the Serrano Ham is one of the star products of the Spanish gastronomy, a... are buried longer or shorter depending on their weight. The average is around fourteen days.
- Washing and shaping: once the legs are ready, they are taken out of the salting containers and washed so that they lose all the salt they have left over. As they have been stacked on top of each other, it is normal that their shape has been altered. The profiling is used to restore their original appearance.
- Post-salting and drying: this is the most delicate moment because the pieces are exposed to possible infections. The temperature and humidity must be controlled at all times and it is at this stage that the salt concentration of the pieces is equalised. It usually lasts between 45 and 90 days, depending again on the piece.
- Ripening and ageing: as we have already said, it is at this point that the curing time of Serrano ham is considerably reduced compared to that of Iberian ham. When they are in the cellar is when the aromas and nuances are developed and the number of months that the pieces need to achieve this will depend on the type of ham. If it is a Reserva it will be in the drying chambers for fifteen months, while if it is a Gran Reserva Ham the period will be delayed until 18 months. In the case of Enrique Tomás, it should be noted that the only Serrano ham we sell is the Gran Reserva ham, which is considered to be of the highest quality.
Curing time is not the only difference between Serrano and Iberian ham
As we have already mentioned, Serrano ham and Iberian ham come from different breeds of pigs and the genetic peculiarities of the Iberian pigs is what makes their meat so special. However, breed, price and dry curing time are not the only things that distinguish them.
The Iberico de Bellota hams are those that are produced thanks to the meat of pigs of this breed that have made the Montanera -Season. During this period, their diet has been mainly based on acorns, wild herbs and everything they have found in the pasture while roaming and thus making physical exercise, results in a very juicy product.
As far as the Serrano is concerned, it should be borne in mind that although white pigs are released into the pasture to enjoy this quality of life, the ham produced with their hind legs can never be the same because, as we have already said, they do not have the capacity to infiltrate fat into the muscle. This is the reason why they are usually fed with feed.
So, how is Serrano ham made? Exactly in the same way as the Iberian ham, but the outcome, is it the same? Of course not!