Where To Try The Best Iberian Ham In Valencia
Spanish dry-cured ham is the unrivaled pork product in the whole wide world. In this post you will discover what Spanish ham is and the difference between the various types of jamón. You will also get tips on how to distinguish the most delectable Iberian ham from the rest.
This infographics from my Spain Travel Blog is a snapshot of the Spanish ham classifications.
The first thing to know is.. Spanish cured ham is divided into 2 main types:
- jamón serrano
- jamón ibérico
Jamón serrano on a piece of toast with freshly ground tomato.
The difference is very simple. While jamón serrano is ham made from the common domesticated pig, jamón ibérico is made from the Iberian pig.
The first type – serrano – is the one that you will find Spaniards eating on a piece of toast. It is also used for cooking sometimes, for such tapas dishes as beans (habitas con jamón). It’s not as fatty and tends to be saltier than the Iberian ham.
So then what is this Iberian pig I mentioned above?
The Iberian Pig
Pata negra means “a black hoof”. That’s the second name of the Iberian ham.
The magic animal, the key to the best tasting and most expensive Spanish cured ham!
The Iberian pig is a (mostly) black pig, whose habitat is in South-Western Spain and Southern Portugal. With its origin probably being an interbreeding of the domestic pig with the local wild boar, Iberian pigs can be of varying breed purity: from 50% to 75% to 100%. That influences in a major way the Iberian ham’s taste, curing duration and.. of course.. the price!
Another thing that without a doubt plays a significant role in the quality of the meat and taste is the pig’s diet.
One of the two types of acorns the free range Iberian pig eats.
You see, the best Iberian hams come from pigs that have a plant based diet and, more importantly, eat acorns. Acorn season is somewhere between October through February, that’s when the Iberian pig pastures outside in the oak fields. This happens twice in its lifetime.
A leg of 100% Iberian ham is cured for 48 months and its average price is 600 EUR!
A leg of Iberian ham. Image credit: Jerome Paz
Is there a way to tell a pure Iberian ham leg from the rest?
Yes! A 100% Iberian pig has very thin and elegant ankles, something you can easily appreciate if you compare its leg to Iberian pig’s of less breed purity.
As of 2018 the top quality Iberan hams will need to have a black plastic label attached to them.
Also, one side of the leg is completely straight. While less pure pigs have a round-shaped fatty part of the leg.
In addition, as of 2018 the top quality Iberan hams will need to have a black plastic label attached to them. That’s how you will know for sure that you are getting the best possible pata negra.
This type of ham is usually eaten on its own, due to its intense taste qualities and its price. But… unfortunately it’s not easy to find a place where to taste the best 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham. So here are 3 places in Valencia where you can trust the specialists to carve you some of this heavenly product:
Where To Try The Best Jamón In Valencia
A new tavern off the beaten path, where the owners are a couple who have a lot of experience with top quality products.
Here they not only serve different types of jamón including the black label Iberian ham, but the most delicious Spanish cheeses and very interesting local wines.
Manglano, downstairs at the Mercado Colón (Columbus Market), is a sight for a sore eye. While this tapas bar specializes in cured meats, they also have a wide selection of cheeses and wines, that come from the adjacent bodega by the same name.
One of the 5 stops on my tapas & wine tour! They have a Spanish cured ham factory in Teruel (Aragon), but they also sell the best Iberian ham here.
How would you like it? Carved for you to consume on site or would you like to pick up an envelope of the best acorn-fed jamón to take home?
Here they only work with the best products. There is a good wine selection and things on the menu are amazing!
To get all the ins and outs on the Iberian ham and to try 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham, join my food tours! I will take you on a delicious journey, filled with food, Spanish wines and local stories. We visit 5 historic tapas bars in the glorious neigborhood of Ruzafa. The tour is packed with information on Valencia!