The Iberico BreedIn the current quality legislation
IntroductionThis talk is going to carry us through the facts which differentiate the ham produced in the Sierra de Huelva from that produced in other areas. Facts which explain why the Jabugo ham has received since immemorial age the appellative of best ham in the world. This facts are mainly 4: 1. Intrinsic factors to the type of pig: 1.1 Breed of pig 1.2 Age 2. Extrinsic factors to the type of pig: 2.1 Feeding 2.2 Breeding 3. Climatologic conditions in the area in which the curing takes place 4. Production process
1. Intrinsic factors to the type of pig1.1.Breed of pig (1/2) Concerning breed we distinguish two key blocks in the iberico pig: A: Pure Iberico Pig Definition: A pig with both father and mother 100% iberico breed and thus registered in the corresponding genealogical book Physiognomy: black skin with little or no hair, thin, long and straight snout, ears which fall over his head (never upright or semi-upright over his head)and long and thin limbs Behavior: strong and specially formed snout allows them to reach where other pig breeds can’t and to peel acorns! Agile, can go long distances to find food. Completely adapted to the Dehesa, can go without shelter. Physiology: great tendency to accumulate oleic fat due to lesser development of hypophysis and thyroid gland. Inter & intramuscular fat accumulation is key as aroma and taste depend on it, and this trait is what differentiates the product from that coming from other breeds. B: Iberico Pig Definition: A cross-breed pig, partly Iberico and partly Duroc or Laroce Jersey (common white breeds Characteristics vs. Pure Iberico: Precocious growth Higher conversion index Increased meat carcasses performance Significantly less fat infiltration (=less quality)
1. Intrinsic factors to the type of pig1.1.Breed of pig (2/2) Key differences between Pure Iberico and Iberico (or crossed-breed): IBERICO (Crossed with CHARACTERISTICS PURE IBERICO Duroc) 10 months (usually 7-8 Slaughter age Min 18-20 months months) Conversion index Low Med-High Meat performance Low Med-High Fat infiltration High Med (inter/intra muscular) Organoleptic quality Med-High Low-Med
1. Intrinsic factors to the type of pig1.2.Age Age is a key factor in the physicoquimical composition of meat affecting fundamentally: Type of fibers composing muscles (essentially red in older pigs) Higher fat infiltration capacity in older pigs (intermuscular and intramuscular fat infiltration leads to the white streaks we can see in the ham) In other words age is another important factor to be considered when searching a quality product The Iberico Quality Norm establishes minimum ages for slaughter according to the type of feeding the pig receives: Bellota Feeding: Iberico (cross-breed with Duroc): 14 months Pure Iberico: 18-20 months JPD: 20-24 months Grain Feeding 7-10 months
2. Extrinsic factors to the type of pig2.1.Feeding Awaiting approval of the new quality norm the current one recognizes the following: A: Cebo Pigs raised exclusively on feed on an intensive farming regime. B: Recebo Pigs raised on a mixture of acorns and feed. At least 2 arrobas of its weight have been gained through acorn feeding. Scarcely any product falls in this category. C: Bellota Pigs which have gained at least 4.5@ of their weight based on acorn and pastures during the acorn season. Feeding is key in the pig as it accumulates directly the fat not spent without practically any transformation. The fat found in the acorns has associated several aromatic components (bencenos) which are directly transferred to the pigs fat and in due time give the Iberico Bellota Ham its characteristic aroma and flavor.
2. Extrinsic factors to the type of pig2.2.Breeding Breeding is intrinsically different in intensive and extensive regimes: A: Intensive Kept in closed enclosures Highly populated Focused on acquiring weight quickly B: Extensive Kept free roaming in the Dehesas 1 pig per hectare of terrain Focused on the natural growth process: Pigs go to the slaughterhouse at a much higher age Pigs exercise continuously while searching their food The muscular development achieved as well as the type of fiber to be found in muscle s, both key to the quality of the final product, are highly influenced by the amount of physical exercise and by age.
3. Climatologic conditions in the area inwhich the curing takes place The Huelva mountainous region and specially the area between Cortegana and Aracena are subject to a microclimate, due to its height (700- 900meters) and to the fact that it is the first massif to be found by the squalls coming from the North. This microclimate is characterized by: High average rainfall regime, concentrated mostly in autumn and spring; seasons that stand out for the high humidity rate Dry and cold winters, dominated by winds coming from the North Short and mild summers, with cold nights
4. Production process The production process is different in each production house. Most relevant differences to be found around: Artisanal vs. industrial process (e.g. natural or artificial curing process) Level of integration of the different production phases Control of the process