What Do Iberico and Serrano Ham Taste Like?


Jamon – the national dish of Spain, dry-cured pork leg. There are two main types of jamon, which differ in the breed of pigs, their diet, method and duration of preparation. Jamon can also vary in aging time – 7, 9 or 12 months.

  • Jamon Serrano (from Spanish – “mountain jamon”). Produced from regular, white pigs that do not follow a special diet or graze.
  • Jamon Iberico (“Iberian jamon”) is produced from Iberian black pigs with black hooves, which is why the product is also called “Pata Negra” – “a black leg”. Such pigs are kept in free grazing and feed on acorns.

What does Iberico ham taste like? Iberico ham has a saturated, rich, nutty flavor. The acorn diet gives the Iberico jamon its special meaty taste. Pigs are in constant movement in the fresh air and receive abundant nutrition. As a result, the ham becomes simultaneously more meaty and fatty, approaching in properties to marbled beef.

What does Serrano ham taste like? Serrano ham has a rich, buttery, slightly spicy taste with sweet notes, an intense aroma. Serrano ham has a soft texture and reminds the taste of prosciutto. Serrano jamon is more intense in flavor and scent.

Not sweet, not salty, not bitter, not sour. The flavor of Serrano ham responds to what is known as “umami”. Foods with umami (delicious taste in Japanese) are those that contain amino acids such as glutamine and rhinonucleic acid that enhance the flavor of the ingredients.

Does Serrano ham taste like prosciutto? Serrano ham is different from prosciutto. Prosciutto has a slightly spicy taste with sweet notes. Serrano jamon has an intense aroma and a sharper, rich, salty-sweet taste.

Jamon Serrano vs Iberico Taste

Jamon Iberico is juicier, more flavorful, and has a shiny, oily consistency, delicate fat that forms on the surface. Serrano jamon is slightly spicy.  Iberico jamon has a fibrous texture streaked with fat, and Serrano jamon has a lighter, pinkish color and does not have fatty layers that give jamon a unique taste.

  • One of the main differences in terms of taste is that the Iberico jamon is juicier and its fat stimulates saliva.
  • 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. The product is characterized by 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.
  • The aging time of both types is different: Iberico jamon takes longer to cook than serrano.

What is so special about Iberico ham? 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.

Hence, the main food for pigs is acorns, various types of herbs, including aromatic ones. The process of grazing pigs is quite expensive: there are about two hectares of pasture with valuable feed for just three pigs.

During the period when acorns ripen and fall to the ground, they become the main food for pigs. This is no coincidence: acorns help pigs gain twice their previous weight. Oils, which are rich in acorns, penetrate the meat of animals. This food is one of the features that provide the special taste and aroma of Iberico jamon.

Defining the flavor of Iberico ham is not an easy task because it is a food full of aromas, nuances and surprising touches that captivate the palate but that are difficult to describe with words. It has a salty touch but just enough. In fact, it can sometimes be sweet, depending on the curing time or the designation of origin of the piece. Not sweet, not salty, not bitter, not sour.

The flavor of Serrano ham responds to what is known as “umami”. Foods with umami (delicious taste in Japanese) are those that contain amino acids such as glutamine and rhinonucleic acid that enhance the flavor of the ingredients. Its function helps to enhance the flavor of the food, making it even more pleasant and promoting salivation. These characteristics are manifested in the Serrano ham and how we feel when we enjoy its pleasure on our palate.

Serrano jamon is made from the meat of white pigs, which are usually fed with dry feed, and their growth process is often accelerated: the motor activity of animals on farms is very low and their diet is monotonous. Iberico jamon cannot be compared with Serrano and Prosciutto di Parma and similar types of ham.

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.

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