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What is the Montanera?

Dehesa - Glossary Enrique Tomás

Otros idiomas: Español Deutsch

The “montanera” is one of the key stages in the process of producing a good ham. At Enrique Tomás, we are not only committed to producing a good product for diners to enjoy, but we also want to openly share everything we know about Jamón/ham.

That is why today we want to tell you what the Montanera” is. Well, this unique name refers to the time of year when the Iberian pig takes advantage of the acorns that fall from the holm oaks to gain weight and consistency.

If you want to show off your knowledge of Iberian hams to your family and friends, take note of everything we are going to tell you about Montanera hams. Let’s get to work!

What does the “montanera” consist of?

Montanera is the name given to the last phase of the Iberian pig’s rearing, in which it feeds and exercises in the dehesa. It is also known as the fattening process of the animal, which grazes freely among extensive forests of cork oaks, gall oaks and holm oaks.

Why are holm oaks so important in the breeding of Iberian pigs?

Because its fruit is the acorn and, as many of you know, it is an essential part of the diet of Iberian pigs, which are then used to produce Jamón Bellota 100% Ibérico

jamón montanera
Iberian pigs grazing in the pastureland

Each montanera is unique and during this period there should be no more than 1.25 pigs per hectare so that they can feed and graze properly.

It is important to note that dehesas and pastureland forests are part of the Spanish landscape, occupying a total area of between 3.5 and 5 million hectares, distributed in 130 municipalities in Andalusia, Castile and Leon, Castile-La Mancha, the Community of Madrid and Extremadura.

Stages of the montanera

Although Iberian pigs live freely in the pasture during the montanera period, there are some phases that must be rigorously complied with in order to reach the expected weight.

That is why, when the animals arrive, they are taken to the highest parts of the pasture, since it is there where they get the most exercise so they can eat and drink to their heart’s content.

Once this phase is completed and as they gain weight, they are moved to the lower parts of the pasture. And why? Because in this area, the oaks and ponds are closer and the pigs make less effort to feed.

In the pasture, the grass and acorns are usually quite far apart, which is why the pigs travel such a long distance. It is estimated that an Iberian pig can travel between 12 and 15 kilometers per day and fatten about 7 or 8 kilograms per day.

cerdo iberico comiendo

When does the “montanera” season begin?

The Iberian pigs enter the “montanera” from October 1, and it ends between the months of February and March. Why should it be done during these months? Because this is the period of optimal maturation of the acorn. However, each season is different and, depending on rainfall and temperatures, the holm oaks will produce less or more acorns.

During the “montanera”, a pig has a very pleasant stay in which it feds on acorns as it pleases, exercises and sleeps. This is the way in which they gain around 46 kilos in a minimum period of two months, although, in some cases, they can reach up to 120 days and the pigs can gain between 70 and 80 kg.

What happens to pigs that do not reach this weight?

Pigs that do not reach the expected weight during the “montanera” season continue to be raised in the fields, in open areas of the farm or in the same pasture, but always outside this season. Likewise, their diet consists of wild grass, feed (made up of cereals and legumes) and the occasional acorn, even though their season has already ended.

In this sense, the location of the animal will depend on the space available to the farmer, although ideally they should continue to be bred in total or partial freedom.

It should be noted that, even if the Iberian pig does not reach the desired weight during montanera, this does not mean that the final product has a lower quality, quite the contrary.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es que-es-la-epoca-de-montanera-1024x709.jpg

Jamón de Cebo de Campo Ibérico comes from pigs that have also been fed acorns in the open air, but have finished their fattening process with feed. At Enrique Tomás, “de campo ibérico” products are identified with the typical green label and 4 stars, being a very high quality product but inferior to Jamón Bellota Ibérico Premium, also known as pata negra. If you are interested in learning more about Jamón de Campo ibérico, we will tell you in: How is Jamón de Cebo de Campo?

Jamón cebo de campo jamonera
Jamón de Cebo de Campo Ibérico 4 Estrellas Premium Enrique Tomás

Do Iberian pigs eat only acorns during the “Montanera”?

Contrary to what many people think, the Iberian pig does not feed exclusively on acorns, cork oaks and other shrubs of the fagaceae family, but also needs to eat grass, as it is a very important source of antioxidants and helps them to refresh their mouths so that they can continue eating more acorns.

For this reason, the farmer must seek a balance between the amount of aromatic herbs, natural pasture and acorns, since this will ensure that the animal is satiated and also receives the necessary nutrients. In addition, the grass also helps the Jamón or Paleta / shoulder to be better preserved and the fat does not go rancid.

Although each Iberian pig is different, we can say that, in general, each pig eats between 3 and 4 kg of grass per day and between 10 and 12 kg of acorns.

The particularity of this breed is that it infiltrates fat into its lean meats while gaining weight, always maintaining its capacity for movement, its slender legs and also its stylized shape. This is what makes the quality of Iberian acorn-fed ham (Jamón de Bellota) so good!

Why is the acorn so important?

Feeding acorns to the Iberian pig is important not only for the flavor and textures achieved in the Jamón, but also for the nutritional properties it gives to the final product.

The high oleic acid content of acorns is what allows the cholesterol of Iberian pigs not to be high. Its consumption, in fact, has a positive impact on our health, as it helps to reduce blood pressure and also allows the decrease of bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

La imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es Bellota-y-jamón-de-bellota.jpg

Selected pieces of Iberian Jamón/ham

If anything characterizes the Jamón or Paleta that we offer at Enrique Tomás, it is that they are quality pieces previously selected by our jamón experts, who have a deep knowledge of each type of Jamón and its particularities. In addition, they follow very demanding quality standards when choosing each ham that we sell at Enrique Tomás.

We also have a team of professionals who make sure that the product goes from the dry sheds to your home in the best possible conditions and in a fast and efficient way.

What are you waiting for to buy any of our products in our online store? You won’t regret it!

What is the Montanera?
Article Name
What is the Montanera?
Discover what the "montanera" is and why it is so important in the Iberian pig breeding process. We tell you all about it here. ✅ Enter now!
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Enrique Tomás S.L.
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Otros idiomas: Español Deutsch


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