In this article we are going to make things very easy for you to understand what the coloured labels on Iberian hams and Iberian shoulders mean, which refer to the diet of the Iberian pig and what percentage of pure breed each ham has. It is simpler than it seems and this way you will always know if the price of the ham is appropriate for its category.
Types of Iberico ham
There are only 4 Iberico hams categories, the same as for Iberian shoulders. Each category is characterised by the colour of the label, which we call the bridle. From highest to lowest quality: black, red, green and white.
You should know that for years Iberian hams have been closely controlled and are subject to a quality standard, specifically Royal Decree 4/2014, which certifies and guarantees the quality of Iberian ham, ham shoulder and pork loin.
The categories that I am going to explain in more detail in this article are: Acorn-fed 100% iberico Ham, also known as pata negra ham; Acorn-fed Ham; Cebo de Campo iberico Ham and Cebo iberico Ham.
Acorn-fed 100% Iberico Ham
This ham is considered to be of the highest quality. The colour of the bridle or label is black and it can only be obtained from hams that come from purebred Iberian pigs, that is to say, that both the father and the mother are 100% Iberian.
The pigs destined for this category are reared in the open air, in the pasture, and during the fattening period, which we call "montanera", and which lasts from October to March, they are fed exclusively on acorns, grass and wild fruits.
The price of 100% acorn-fed 100% Iberian ham is in the highest price range and is also known as "Pata Negra" ham.
Acorn-fed Iberian Ham
Acorn-fed cured ham has all the characteristics of pata negra ham in terms of feeding and breeding. The only difference is the percentage of Iberian breed, which in this case is not 100%, but can be 50% or 75% Iberian. Regardless of the purity, the colour of the identification label is red.
In this case, so that you know the percentage of Iberian breed that the ham has, it is usually specified on the vitola, a paper label where the name of the brand, ingredients, etc. are usually placed, or on other labels on the leg of ham.
We should read the following: Jamón de bellota ibérico 50% raza ibérica, if it is of this purity.
If it is 50% Iberian it means that the mother is 100% Iberian and the father is a 100% Duroc breed pig, the only breed allowed under the regulations that can be crossed with Iberian pigs.
If it is 75% Iberian, the mother is 100% Iberian and the father is 50% Iberian.
The price of acorn-fed ham is slightly cheaper than pata negra.
Cebo de Campo iberico Ham
Cebo de campo spanish ham, formerly called "recebo" ham, although it is produced from pigs that are also reared in the countryside, hence its name, has access to natural pastures, but its diet does not include acorns. If one season there is an excess of acorns, they can eat them, but these are destined for the acorn ham in its two categories.
The colour of the identification label is green and they can have an Iberian purity between 50% and 100%.
The Iberian percentage must be indicated on the different labels of the piece, as follows: Jamón de Cebo de Campo ibérico 50% raza ibérica.
It is a ham of great quality and its price is much more affordable than an acorn-fed Iberian ham. A ham to be taken into account.
Cebo iberico Ham
Cebo Iberico ham, although it is a good quality ham, has a main characteristic that differentiates it from the rest, and that is the type of rearing and feeding of the pigs destined for this category.
Although all pigs are fed on cereals and leguminous, even the acorn and 'cebo de campo' pigs, which only feed exclusively on the fruits of the field during the fattening season, when the acorns are ripe, in this case they are reared on intensive farms, i.e. on farms, so they do not enjoy life in the open air and their diet is based solely on cereals.
It is the Iberian ham with the cheapest price, practically half the price of an acorn-fed ham.
The identification label is white and can have an Iberian racial purity between 50% and 100%, although it is most commonly marketed with 50%.
As in all categories of ham, the percentage must be indicated, as follows: Jamón de Cebo ibérico 50% raza ibérica.
Which Iberico ham category to choose
Obviously, it all depends on how much money you want to invest in buying an Iberco ham, but there are also preferences depending on the personal tastes of each person.
Some people prefer a Serrano ham, which has a milder flavour, more consistent meat and, above all, without the particular fat that Iberian hams have, both around the piece and the intramuscular fat, which is one of the main characteristics of Iberian hams and what gives the meat its peculiar juiciness, flavour and aroma.
If you want to know the categories of Serrano hams, you can see it here.
The meat of a 100% Iberico ham will always be leaner than a 50% Iberico ham, as the crossbreeding with the Duroc breed, a white breed pig that is characterised by a good proportion of intramuscular fat, will give it a more mellow texture.
Whichever one you choose, in the Jamón Pasión online Spanish ham store I can assure you that all our products are of the highest quality within their respective categories, and best of all, our hams are kept in their place of origin until the moment of purchase, where they are best preserved. We send you the Iberian ham or shoulder ham directly from the factory, without intermediaries, so you will be able to buy a ham at the best price.