12 December 2008
Buying Quality Spanish Ham
To buy a Spanish ham is a gourmet purchase, as with most things in life the "get what you pay for" rule applies, (quite significantly where full serrano or iberico hams are concerned)
So, if you are considering buying a Spanish serrano ham here are some details to consider before parting with your hard earned cash..
The serrano ham or "mountain ham" is cured at altitude in Spain (hence the name)The lack of humidity in these areas plays an important role in the quality of the ham and whilst you can purchase perfectly acceptable hams from countries outside Spain a ham sent to you directly from its natural curing environment should always be a preference.
Curing times vary depending on the grade of ham but always go for ham cured for at least 12 months. Reservas and grand reservas are cured for longer but with the the more economical "bodega" or "curado" hams, always 12 months
Good quality full bone legs should always be presented in a muslin sock, this offers protection to the leg while in transit and can be used later to cover the exposes area of meat once the ham is cut into. Hams should arrive in double ply boxes made for the purpose - depending on what may also be with you purchase the box may have been "holed" to allow other cured meats to breath
A crucial aspect. Determine how much fat is present on the ham, fat is a major part of the flavour and also a factor as to how moist the meat will be in the centre. A ham with a good layer of fat is a prime example of a good leg.
Nearly all hams will come with a label that sits a few inches below the hoof. Whilst labeling is not a suggestive factor as to the quality of the ham it does give the details of the secadero (curing house) and should also detail the grade of the leg ie: curado, reserva, anejo. Hams without labels may well be produced by small family concerns who prefer to sell on reputation and leave the frills to bigger companies, hams like these can be just as good as any other but be sure to buy on recommendation.
Carving and storage
Details on carving and storage should also be available, they are the two most important aspects of after purchase enjoyment. If the ham is to be a gift or if you are new to carving a ham do request these details - they should always be supplied free of charge.
If in doubt ask advice! Advice is free! Request the following details:
Protective sock included
For further information on all of the above including prime ham sales visit
Orce Serrano Hams