Iberico vs. Serrano Ham — What Is The Difference?


 

What is the difference between Iberico and Serrano ham? Iberico and Serrano ham differ in the way and duration of preparation (at least 425 days for Iberico and 210 for Serrano). The most significant difference between Iberico and Serrano ham is the breed of pigs (Black Iberian pig for Iberico ham and Duroc or Landrace pigs for Serrano) and their diet.

How do you differentiate jamon Iberico from Jamon Serrano visually? Iberico jamon ranges in color from purplish red to pale shades of red and has a fibrous texture streaked with fat. Serrano jamon, in turn, has a lighter, pinkish color and does not have fatty layers that give jamon a unique taste.

Iberico vs. Serrano Ham — What Is The Difference?

 Jamon SerranoJamon Iberico
WeightA minimum weight of 9.5 kg with a bone and 9.2 kg without a bone. The minimum thickness of the fat layer is 0.8 cm.A minimum weight of 7.5-8.5 kg on the bone and 7.2-8 kg without a bone.
SaltingSea salt, also rubbed with sodium nitrite to protect against bacteria.Sea salt, also rubbed with sodium nitrite to protect against bacteria.
Dry-curingMinimum period is 210 daysMinimum period is 425 days
PriceThe boneless ham costs $400 and the bone-in ham somewhere between $1200-$1400.The boneless ham costs $600 and the bone-in ham somewhere between $1500-$1800.
Pig BreedWhite pigs (Duroc, Landrace, Large White and Jersey), which are also bred in other countries.Rare Iberian pigs, native only to Spain. There are no such individuals anywhere else in the world.
ColorSerrano ham is lighter, pinker in color and does not have fatty layers that give the ham a unique taste.Iberico jamon ranges in color from purplish red to pale shades of red with a fibrous texture streaked with fat.

What is the difference between jamon Iberico and jamon Serrano? Jamon Serrano is made from white pigs, which are usually fed with dry feed, and their growth process is often accelerated — the physical activity of animals on farms is very low and their diet is monotonous. Jamon Iberico is made from the meat of rare Iberian pigs that live and graze in the wild.

The following tips will help you distinguish Iberico jamon from Serrano jamon:

  • Iberico jamon is juicier and its fat stimulates saliva.
  • Jamon Iberico is characterized by a shiny, oily consistency, delicate fat that forms on the surface. In Serrano jamon, the fat is harder and has a characteristic white color, sometimes with yellowness.
  • Another important quality is the aroma, which turns the Iberico jamon into an absolutely unique product. The aroma of jamon Iberico is much brighter and more expressive than the aroma of Serrano.
  • Iberico jamon ranges in color from purplish red to pale shades of red with a fibrous texture streaked with fat. Serrano jamon has a lighter, pinkish color and does not have fatty layers that give jamon a unique taste.
  • Iberico jamon takes longer to dry-cure than Serrano (at least 425 and 210 days, respectively).

Jamon Serrano vs Iberico Taste

Iberico jamon is sweeter, juicier, creamier, meatier and tender than Serrano because of its fat veins and acorn diet. Serrano jamon is saltier and chewier than Iberico and has a nutty flavor. Iberico jamon has an intense aroma and a sharper, rich, salty-sweet taste.

Jamon Iberico contains less salt, which enhances its taste and aroma. Serrano is lower in healthy proteins and has a higher level of sodium, which is harmful to hypertensive patients. Slices of Iberico jamon are usually coated with a layer of fat, which enhances the aroma, flavor, is easier to chew, and in addition, the fat leaves a pleasant aftertaste of Iberico jamon. Jamon Serrano does not have such features.

The color of the meat varies from purple-red to pale pink, and its taste is characterized by a varied range: the ham is fatty, salty and sweet at the same time. This combination will allow you to experience the unusual taste of the main Spanish delicacy. In addition, jamon has a high content of oleic acid, which is known to fight cardiovascular diseases, and unsaturated fats, which do not affect cholesterol levels.

Unlike serrano pigs, the food of the Iberian pig is rich in oleic acid. Animals from October-November to March graze on pastures tens of kilometers long in search of acorns. There are also differences in the diet of the Iberian pigs, and therefore in the cost of the final product, as well as in the number of food additives that are added to the acorn feed. Meat from an animal fed a diet of acorns will be the most expensive.

There is much more handicraft in the production of Iberian ham. It goes through various phases: salting (the ham is buried in sea salt for a certain time), then washing, drying, ripening and aging. The production process for Serrano ham is approximately 9 months for a simple ham, 12 months for Reserva and 15 months for Gran Reserva. An Iberian ham must be aged 36 months in order for it to be “nominated” for the title of 100% Iberian beyote jamon denominación de origen.

Jamon Serrano vs Iberico Price

Iberico jamon is much more expensive than Serrano because Iberian pigs are rare, and their acorn diet gives the meat a unique meaty flavor and juicy, soft texture. Jamon Iberico costs $90-$150 per pound, while Serrano costs $30-$60 per pound. 

Jamon Iberico is made from the meat of a unique Iberian pig breed. These pigs are found only in the Iberian Peninsula, in the pastures of the southeast. Iberian pigs live and graze in the wild. Their pastures are a special ecosystem — the forest consisting of two types of oak (stone and cork). Hence, the main food for pigs is acorns, various types of herbs, including aromatic ones. The process of grazing pigs is quite costly: there are about two hectares of pasture with valuable feed for about two hectares of pigs.

Each Iberian pig has its own pedigree book, where information about its parents is recorded. Thus, you can find out that there are purebred individuals with an Iberian father and mother (100% Iberico). Then there are the pigs, which have an Iberian mother, and the father is a purebred individual of another breed (usually the Duroc breed). And then there is a two-thirds Iberian pig since it has a pure Iberian mother and a half Iberian father.

During the period when acorns ripen and fall to the ground, they become the main food for pigs. Acorns help pigs gain twice their previous weight. Oils in the acorn penetrate into the meat of animals and provide the special taste and aroma of jamon.

Iberian pigs live and graze in the wild. In order to find food for themselves, they have to move a lot. The activity of animals affects the quality of their meat: movement prevents weight gain, and fat stays between the muscles, which makes the meat more juicy and tasty.

Jamon Serrano is made from the meat of white pigs, which are usually fed with dry feed, and their growth process is often accelerated: the physical activity of animals on farms is very low and their diet is monotonous.

The quality of a jamon is determined by the type of nutrition of the pigs from which it is prepared (herbs, cereals, acorns or chestnuts), the number of acorns eaten, the physical activity of the animal, and finally, the ripening process of the jamon. Based on the above conditions, the highest quality jamon is the Iberico de Beyota Jamon, made from the meat of wild pigs that feed mainly on acorns. This variety is the most expensive, but it is rightfully considered the best.

Before buying jamon, many people carefully choose its type. Whichever type you buy, noble serrano or elite Iberico, you will surely enjoy it. This is a luxurious treat that you will want to enjoy over and over again.

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