NATURE VS INDUSTRY
Traditionally produced Spanish ham (Jamon) is one of the purest and most natural products you can find. In the case of Iberico ham, pigs are are free to graze naturally in acorn forests and the meat is cured using techniques which were perfected over generations.
However, in today’s modern world, mass industry threatens these artisan producers. The majority of ham sold comes from large industrial producers who use chemical additives, preservatives and artificial accelerants to speed up production to maximise profits.
These techniques not only produce an inferior product but they actually threaten the livelihood of the few remaining authentic producers and below are some of the techniques they use.
ACCELERATING THE DRYING PROCESS
The longest process in dry-curing a ham is the drying process. To maximise yield, mass producers use air-conditioned warehouses to speed up this process and reduce the time needed by half. By speeding up the process, the meat does not have time to fully mature and develop the depth and subtlety of flavour which is the signature of a good ham. This process can also leave the meat artificially dry and tough.
THE WIDESPREAD USE OF CHEMICAL ADDITIVES AND PRESERVATIVES
Quality ham should only include two ingredients: Pork and Salt. However, lower quality, mass-produced hams usually contain chemical additives, preservatives and even colourants. If they have been, they will be listed in the ingredients. Look out for any type of nitrites or nitrates or references to e-numbers such as E250, E251 etc.
The use of chemical additives is widespread but completely unnecessary when traditional methods are used. This is simply a shortcut to maximise profit from an inferior process. Traditional methods have been perfected over generations and require strict hygiene standards and a longer maturation period to deliver a 100% natural and safe product.
POOR FEEDING AND SUPER-INTENSIVE BREEDING
Unfortunately, the majority of Spanish ham is produced from super-intensive farming, where catastrophic conditions and poor-quality feed play a major role. Not only is this inhumane but it has a direct impact on the quality of the final product. Traditionally produced ham is quite different as the pigs are specially selected by the producer, usually from a local farm who they know and trust. They select only the best pigs worthy of the level of investment they will place on hand curing the hams over the coming months and years.
We reject the use of chemical additives and have partnered with traditional producers that produce 100% Natural hams. The cost is similar but the hams are infinitely better than the mass-produced alternatives.