The Iberian breed of pigs is one of the best known and appreciated in Spain and throughout the world. These pigs are raised mainly in Castilla y León, Extremadura and Andalusia, as well as in some parts of Portugal. The Iberian breed is known for its meat and its derived products, such as Iberian ham, which are highly valued in Spanish and international gastronomy.
Origin of the Iberian breed
The Iberian breed is native to the Iberian Peninsula, where it has been bred for centuries. The ancestors of these pigs were Iberian wild boars, which lived in the forested areas of southern and western Spain and Portugal. Over time, Iberian pigs were domesticated and raised for human consumption.
Characteristics of the Iberian breed
Iberian pigs are characterized by their dark coat and long, narrow head. They also have long, thin legs, and their body is medium to large in size. These pigs are known for their ability to store fat, allowing them to survive for long periods of time without food. This characteristic also gives them their distinctive flavor and smooth texture.
Furthermore, the Iberian breed is divided into two subtypes: the Iberian acorn-fed pig and the Iberian bait pig. The Iberian acorn-fed pig is raised freely in the pastures, feeding exclusively on acorns and grasses. This gives your meat a unique flavor and a soft, juicy texture. The Iberian bait pig, on the other hand, is fed with feed and does not have access to pastures. Although its meat is of high quality, it does not have the distinctive flavor of acorn-fed Iberian pork.
One of the most famous products of the Iberian breed is the iberian ham. This ham is made from the hind legs of the Iberian pig, which are cured outdoors for a period of time that varies from 12 to 48 months, depending on the type of ham. During this process, the fat from the ham infiltrates the meat, giving it its distinctive flavor and texture.
Iberian ham is divided into three types: Iberian acorn-fed ham, Iberian Cebo de Campo ham and Iberian Cebo ham.
Acorn-fed Iberian ham is the most valued and expensive of the three types of Iberian ham, and is obtained from Iberian pigs raised in freedom in oak and cork oak pastures, where they feed on acorns, herbs and other natural resources that they find. in the countryside. This type of diet makes the pork meat have a large amount of oleic acid, which translates into juicier and more flavorful meat. In addition, the curing process is slow and is carried out naturally, which gives the ham a unique flavor and aroma.
The Iberian Cebo de Campo ham is produced from Iberian pigs raised in freedom on large areas of land, but instead of feeding exclusively on acorns and other natural resources, they also receive a complementary diet of cereals and feed in the field. The curing process is similar to that of acorn-fed Iberian ham, but as it has a less exclusive diet, the flavor and quality are inferior.
Finally, Iberian Cebo ham is produced from Iberian pigs raised on farms and fed exclusively with feed and cereals. This type of ham is the cheapest of the three and its flavor and quality are lower than the other two types, because the pig does not feed on acorns or other natural resources that provide greater flavor and quality in the meat.
In summary, acorn-fed Iberian ham is the most valued and of the highest quality, followed by Iberian Cebo de Campo ham and Iberian Cebo ham.