I am going to explain the differences and similarities between a 100% Iberian acorn-fed shoulder, also called "Pata Negra" and a 50% Iberian acorn-fed shoulder. Both are of very high quality, but the difference is not only in the price. In our online shop you can buy the paleta iberico de bellota of your choice with total guarantee and you can contact us so that we can advise you personally.
Acorn-fed Iberian Ham shoulder 50% Iberian breed
The first thing you should know is that all Iberian paletas de ibérico de bellota 50% Iberian breed by law must have a red bridle (a label around the hoof that certifies and guarantees the quality of the product).
These pieces, which are obtained from the front legs of the Iberian pig, are smaller than the hams (hind legs), and their weight cannot be less than 4 kg, although we always recommend that you buy a piece between 5 kg and 6 kg, as it will be cured longer and therefore you will obtain a more balanced acorn-fed Iberian shoulder.
The pigs are reared in total freedom throughout their lives, grazing in the pastures and feeding on acorns and wild herbs during the montanera season, which lasts from October to March. The rest of the year, when there are no acorns, they feed on fodder.
The only real difference between this shoulder and the 100% paleta iberico ham is the racial purity. It comes from the crossbreeding of purebred Iberian pigs on the maternal side and 100% Duroc pigs, hence the 50% Iberian.
Characteristics of the 50% Iberico de bellota pork shoulder
These are Iberian ham shoulders with a good layer of external fat, like all Iberian hams, regardless of whether they are cebo or acorn-fed, but these, unlike those that come from pigs whose diet has not included acorns, also have a good proportion of fat infiltrated into the meat, which is what gives them their characteristic flavour and smell, but not as much as in Iberian pata negra shoulders.
100% Iberico Spanish ham paleta
Like the previous one, it must have an identifying label that certifies and guarantees its quality. In this case, a black flange.
The breeding and feeding of the Iberian pig from which these pieces are obtained is exactly the same as the previous ones, the only difference being that the progenitors, in this case, are both 100% purebred Iberian.
Outside the acorn season, they also feed on cereals.
They are pork shoulders with an abundant layer of external fat, even more than the shoulders of Iberian acorn-fed 50% purebred Iberian pigs, and a large infiltration of intramuscular fat.
Characteristics of the Pata Negra iberico paleta
Although apparently, when cut, the meat appears to be leaner, without so much visual marbling, it actually has more intramuscular fat, resulting in a much more powerful aroma and flavour and a juicier texture.
Genetically, the 100% Iberian breed tends to forage freely in the fields, travelling many kilometres a day, which results in the infiltration of fat throughout the meat, unlike other pigs that are not raised in the wild and tend to accumulate fat externally.
They have a very intense flavour, in fact there are people who prefer a milder Iberian shoulder, opting for a paleta iberico cebo.
As far as price is concerned, the difference is not so great between the two, varying only a few euros.
In this case, the minimum weight established by law for its commercialisation is 3.75 kg, but it is always preferable to opt for weights between 5k and 6 kg, as such small Iberian shoulders are going to be almost all bone and little meat, as well as their maturation time will be shorter in the smaller ones, which can result in pieces that are drier on the one hand and less on the other, that is to say, a less balanced maturation.
Buy acorn-fed iberico ham shoulder
Whether you opt for a 100% pata negra Iberian spanish ham shoulder or a 50% Iberian shoulder, you should know that both are of the highest quality in these products, you should only choose one or the other for the small differences in taste that they may have, as I said, the pata negra are much more intense.
In themselves, shoulders are already stronger in flavour than hams and with a greater amount of fat, which can sometimes be a "problem" for people who are new to this food, believing that the large amount of fat is a defect of the piece.
Obviously, there are pieces that can come out with an unusual amount of fat, but you should know that in an acorn-fed Iberian shoulder ham, only 30% of the total weight of the piece can be used.
Iberian ham shoulders are also more difficult to cut than hams due to their morphology, which is why many people opt to buy boneless Iberian ham shoulder, where nothing is wasted.