Ham- Jamón ibérico
This is one of the most valued cold cuts in Spanish cuisine. Among the many types of ripening hams, janón Iberico is particularly suited to gastronomic gourmet products. As a connoisseur's product, it is recommended to serve the ham on a plate without any additives. It should be cut into even and thin slices, so you can enjoy its deep taste and aroma.
The secret of the unique taste of Iberian hams lies primarily in a balanced diet intended for animal slaughter. This one occurs when Iberian pigs are between 14 and 18 months old. This happens during the winter period, right after the stage when they are rapidly gaining weight. In the fall, called montanera, Iberian pigs mainly eat acorns. Previously, their food consisted of other plants growing on dehesa - grasses, herbs (thyme, rosemary), roots, leaves, shoots and olives. They can also be fed with grains or certified grain feed.
Jamón iberico legs are rolled in a thick layer of sea salt and placed on top of each other in a room with an air temperature of 1-5 ° C and a humidity of 80-90%. The process takes 7 to 10 days.
The salt is then washed off with warm water and the meat is placed in a second room with a slightly higher temperature (3-6 ° C). The remains of salt are evenly absorbed into the ham, which allows for significant dehydration of the meat and its future preservation. The ham then acquires a firmer consistency.
The next stage is slow drying and maturing for 6-9 months. The Spaniards call this whole process "sweating". The hams are hung on ropes, one next to the other, in rooms with a temperature similar to that present outside (15-30 ° C). Air humidity is also controlled. Depending on the needs, these parameters can be regulated by ventilation systems or by simply opening or closing windows. A significant amount of water evaporates from the meat, its total weight is reduced by up to 40%. At the same time, the fat is distributed inside the muscle fibers, there are chemical changes in the proteins and fats contained in the ham. This is how the future flavor and aroma of jamón ibérico begins to form.
The last stage is called aging the ham. It may last from 6 to 30 months. The temperature in the room for this purpose is slightly lower (10-20ºC). Relative humidity should be in the range of 60-80%. The action of the bacterial flora in the meat by the development of mold cultures on its outer layer is then of great importance.