Serrano comes from the Spanish word Sierra (or Mountain) as traditionally, fresh hams are cured in mountainous areas with moderate climates. Serrano ham is one of Spain's most popular delicacies and has acquired a worldwide reputation for quality.
Serrano ham is produced using methods and materials that are just as rigorously controlled as those used for Iberico ham. However, instead of being made from the black Iberian Pig, Serrano is made using carefully selected white pig breeds. Serrano ham can only be made from Duroc, Large White or Landrace, which can be mixed with Iberico pigs but no other breeds.
With such a well-regulated process, the major difference in quality you will see between Serrano hams is due to the curing process and duration. The longer the curing time, the longer the ham has to develop the distinctive yet subtle flavours that make this ham so popular.
The grading of Serrano ham is highly regulated and certified to confirm authenticity. Here are the 3 grading levels which are determined by the curation time:
- Gran Reserva (Cured for at least 15 months for legs and at least 9 months for shoulders)
- Reserva (Cured for 12-14 months for a leg and 7-8 months for a shoulder)
- Bodega (Cured for 9-11 months for a whole leg and 5-6 months for a shoulder)