Serrano ham takes its name because of the way in which the animal is quartered which gets the name “V-cut” or “Serrano cut”.
Commonly the word “Serrano” is associated to hams proceeding from a “white pig” (breeds as Duroc, Landrace or Large White…). However, this kind of V-cut or Serrano cut is not only used for quartering white pigs but also for Iberian pigs and Iberian hams.
Anyway, with the terminology Serrano ham or jamon Serrano, we make reference to ham coming from a white pig and not from an Iberian pig.
According to Spanish legislations there are 3 different kinds of Serrano ham depending on its quality. The three of them are listed below from the lowest to the highest quality:
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In our last post we have talked about spanish Denomitaions of Origin (D.O.). Today we will try to explain what it is and the specific Denomitions of Origin related to Iberian ham.
The “Denominación de origen” certification (D.O. certification) is part of a regulatory classification system primarily for spanish wines, foodstuffs like condiments, meats and cold meats, among many other products. In foods it performs a similar role, namely regulation of quality and geographical origin among Spain’s finest producers. There are five other designated categories solely for wine and a further three specifically covering food and condiments, all recognised by the Eureopean Union (EU) as a sign of quality.
The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA – Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación) regulates the quality of Spanish foodstuffs via a labelling system which establishes, among other things, a Denominación de Origen for the country’s highest quality produce. A semi-autonomous governing body (Consejo Regulador) exists for each region and for each food type, comprising skilled, impartial members who investigate the quality, ingredients and production process of each product, ensuring they attain specific quality levels. They report to a central council at national government level but are normally based in the largest population centre of a given region and are responsible for enforcing its geographical limits. Products labelled Denominación de Origen, apart from being of superior quality, are expected to carry specific characteristics of geographical region or individual producer and be derived from raw materials originating within the region. Like most of these designations, a fundamental tenet of a DO label is that no product outside of that region is permitted to bear the name.
As we have said before there are four recognised Denominations of Origin for iberian ham (Jamon de Guijuelo, Jamon de Huelva, Jamón de los Pedroches y Dehesas de Extremadura). The oldest one is Guijuelo D.O. This region got this honor due to its hundred-year-old activity in producing top quality iberian hams and shoulders and it supposed the recognition to offering the highest quality in these products. Its official web site is:
As we said in our first post, iberian ham is also known with another names as pata negra or Jabugo ham. This is the reason for these names and its explanation:
Iberian ham is also known as “pata negra” because of the color of its hoofs. However, there are plenty of different pig breeds with black hoofs but not all of them are Iberian pigs. This is why factories and stockbreeders do not agree with the name “pata negra” and they always call it Iberian ham or jamon ibérico, in Spanish.
The Iberian name makes reference to one particular pig´s breed: the Iberian pig. Products produced from this animals get the “Iberian” surname.
Another name which is confusing is Jabugo ham. Jabugo is a city placed in the south of Spain that has a big tradition in producing Iberian hams. Some years ago it got a high development and the name “Jabugo ham” got famous as a common name for Iberian ham. Never the less, Jabugo is only one of the Iberian ham producer areas of Spain and even it was not the first one the get its D.O. which stands for “Denominación de Origen” (Denomination of Origin). The first one and pioneer to get this certificate of quality was the area of Guijuelo which got it in 1985.
To sum up, not all the black hoof hams are iberian hams and Guijuelo and Jabugo are just the name of spanish areas with D.O. in which iberian hams are produced not kinds of ham.
Iberian ham is also known as spanish ham, black hoof ham, serrano ham, Jabugo ham, Guijuelo ham and of course by any of the spanish names jamon ibérico, jamon pata negra or jamon serrano. All of these are names make reference to one of the spanish most famous, tasty and delicious gourmet foods in the world.
In this blog, step by step, we will try to explain you everything about ham, the different kinds of hams, the name they get, how they are produced, how to distinguish them, how to prepare it and lots of different ways to eat and enjoy it.
We are sure you will enjoy this culinary treasure as much as we do.