Let me explain some basic points that will hopefully shed some light on these two types of ham within Iberian law.
Today I want to talk about two types of Iberian hams according to the Iberian standard that we can find on the market in shops, restaurants, websites or at events. And there is still a lot of confusion. Have you ever heard… “Ah this ham is 100% bellota acorn fed because pigs have eaten acorns all their lives”…
We are going to see two types of Iberian hams, which are not the only ones, because then we would miss the Iberian Cebo de campo.
Jamón de bellota ibérico (acorn hams) and Jamón de Cebo ibérico (dung hams) are different hams, but at the same time they share some similarities, let's take a look at them:
Both come from Iberian pigs, they can come from pure 100% Iberian pigs or crossed Iberian pigs with durok pigs in the sire line (75% and 50% Iberian). So on the market we can find hams and shoulders with a percentage of 100% Ibérico (Iberian), 75% Ibérico and 50% Ibérico.
1. The feed that the Iberian pig receives during rearing.
Bellota ham comes from pigs fed on acorns, grasses and pastures during the “montanera” phase (approximately from October to February).
The Cebo ham comes from pigs that are fed in feeding stables with natural pig food (“cebar means feeding in Spanish, hence the nam cebo”).
2. Lifestyle and husbandry of the Iberian pig.
Bellota ham comes from pigs that have lived in the pasture and fed naturally, with a minimum space per pig of 1 hectare. The breeding and fattening period of these pigs can vary from 14 to 24 months before they are slaughtered.
The Cebo ham comes from pigs that have lived in intensive farms and are fed with pig feed (made with grains and legumes) with a space per pig of 2 m2. The breeding and fattening period varies from 10 to 12 months.
3. The ripening period
The Bellota ham requires a minimum maturing period of 36 months to reach its optimal qualities.
The Cebo ham requires a minimum maturing period of 24 months.
4. The price
A Jamón de Cebo iberico (100%, 75% from 50% ibérico) is cheaper.
A Jamón de bellota (100%, 75% or 50% ibérico), on the other hand, is more expensive and should be more expensive, because the care of the pig, the lifespan of the animal and the total maturing period of these hams make the end product more expensive.
It should also not be forgotten that for hams of the same type, the higher the percentage of Iberian breed, the higher the price.
So a Jamón de bellota 100% ibérico, is always more expensive than the rest due to the combination of pure breed, diet and lifestyle of the animal. Within the Iberian sector it belongs to the highest category.