Bellota iberico hams the most sought-after thanks to their intense flavour and the characteristic marbling formed by the fat infiltrated in the meat. In this article I will explain the main differences between pata negra acorn-fed hams, an adjective that can only be used by law for 100% Iberian breed hams, and 50% Iberian breed acorn-fed hams. The differences are not as great as it may seem, there are even people who prefer the red bridle Iberian acorn-fed ham, and not only because of the price, as the latter ham is more economical.
100% iberico de bellota jamon Pata Negra
I start with the obvious: These are Iberian hams made from purebred Iberian pigs, that is, both the mother and the father are 100% Iberian breed and the bridle, plastic identifying label that goes around the hoof, is always going to be black with the legend inside of: "Jamon de bellota 100% iberico".
The second characteristic is that they are fed on acorns and wild herbs naturally present in the dehesas during the fattening period, the montanera, which begins in October and lasts until February/March, and obviously, they are reared in the open air, in the open air, travelling many kilometres daily. Being reared in this way gives the meat a firmness and a characteristic fat infiltration, which is already given by the breed, but when the animal is exercised it infiltrates better and gives the meat that peculiar flavour, smell and aroma which is so exquisite.
Iberian hams, both iberico de bellota and cebo hams, are subject to the Iberian regulations, a Royal Decree from 2014 that regulates the quality of Iberian meat, ham, shoulder and loin, and they must comply with very exhaustive parameters.
50% Iberian Bellota Ham
The main difference between these hams is that they are made from 50% Iberian breed pigs. What does this mean? Well, the mother is 100% Iberian breed and the father is 100% Duroc, the only white pig breed allowed by the regulations that can be crossed with Iberian pigs, as they are the highest quality white pigs and have a good infiltration of intramuscular fat.
Otherwise, everything is exactly the same as with 100% iberico hams. Rearing in the open air, feeding, etc.
What differs in this case is also the weight of the pieces. While 100% acorn-fed Iberian hams, according to the law, can have a minimum weight of 5.75 kg, 50% acorn-fed Iberian hams have a minimum weight of 7 kg, as well as the rest of Iberian hams, cebo and cebo de campo.
Differences between 100% and 50% spanish iberico ham
Bearing in mind what I have explained in the previous lines, the most significant difference is the percentage of Iberian breed.
The morphology of the piece is also different, being the 100% jamon iberico more elongated and stylised, with a thinner leg.
As far as the meat is concerned, pata negra hams have much more external fat around the ham, and red-flanged hams have less, which means that the yield of a purebred Iberian ham will be lower, as we have to get rid of more surface fat. But it is also true that, although the marbling is less noticeable in 100% Iberian hams, as the fat has infiltrated, it gives the meat a particular texture that melts in the mouth.
The flavours also differ, but at a subtle level. For example, the 100% DOP Los Pedroches iberico de bellota ham that you can buy in our online shop will offer more nuances in terms of flavour and smell, unlike a 50% Iberian breed ham, which will have a more uniform but stronger flavour.
The difference is not so great in terms of flavour and texture, and the price of a 50% Iberian acorn-fed Iberian ham will easily cost you €50 less compared to a pata negra ham of the same brand.