Cured ham is a product that is made in diverse areas of southwestern Europe, and the different breeds of pig and techniques used distinguish them from each other. Although there is sometimes a certain confusion about these products, such as the case of Italian prosciutto and Iberian ham, these two products actually have little in common.
In Spain, we are well aware of the differences between them, but this distinction is not so clear in other countries, where the consumption of prosciutto is more widespread. We have outlined the main characteristics and differences between them below.
There are several varieties: prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto di San Daniele, prosciutto di Carpegna, to name a few.
Type of pig:
One of the best-known varieties, prosciutto di Parma, is made from pigs raised in northern Italy, partially fed with chestnuts.
The curing process: lasts at least 10 to 12 months.
Smooth and slightly firm in texture, it has a lightly salted taste and less intense flavour due to a higher water content.
Consumption: It is normally eaten as a garnish to salads or in sandwiches.
Origin: Iberian Peninsula
Some of the varieties of Iberian Ham are: Acorn-fed Iberian pork, grain-fed Iberian pork and mixed grain and acorn fed Iberian pork.
Type of pig:
It comes from the Iberian pig, a breed that has been specially selected to harness the full benefits of the virtues and features of cork oaks and holm oak pasturelands, where, by tradition, this breed is customarily raised.
Fat builds up under the skin and is infiltrated into the muscles, lending it the characteristic white marbling typical of this type of ham.
The preparation process begins with salting, then they are dried for two or three months by natural means, and hung in storage pantries for around three years.
The differences between the two products are clear to the eye and the mouth, as Iberian ham has a darker red, marbled, colour and more intense flavour. In order to savour its flavour and traits, hand-cutting it into thin slices and eating it accompanied by a glass of wine is recommended.