What does “Pata Negra” mean?
Pata Negra is a term often used to refer to high-quality products derived from the Iberian pig. Literally it refers to the skin color of most of these pigs and their hooves; black.
The reality is that within the Iberian breed there are different species with different skin colors; red like the Torbiscal, the Retinto. Brown with dots; the Manchado de Jabugo or blond like the Rubio Gaditano.
The widespread use of the term “Pata Negra” is due to the fact that they are the most common and used breeds of the Iberian pig; Lampiña and Entrepelada.
The pigs of the Iberian breed are generally black. However, the reference to 'black' applies not only to the skin color but also to the color of the hooves. Not all Iberian pigs have black hooves.
There are also black pigs that have nothing to do with the Iberian breed and that is why it is so important to look carefully at the label to know exactly which type of ham you are really dealing with!
We can therefore conclude that the expression “Pata Negra” is often used by some pig traders to increase the value of their merchandise (the pigs). In this way, a higher price for the pork is generated by the use of the term “Pata Negra”.
And that is precisely why ham experts refuse to use the term “Pata Negra” to describe the quality of a ham.
The lack of complete and detailed labeling in this context obviously creates confusion among consumers. To certify the quality of Iberian ham, it is important to note that other factors determine the quality, such as the (extra) feed the pigs have received and the living conditions of the animals.
The label of a “Cebo de Campo” must indicate that these pigs have not lived in freedom and have been fed with pig feed and grain. And “Bellota”, on the other hand, comes from pigs that have lived in the freedom of the Spanish Dehesa, they have traveled many kilometers and fed on grass, herbs and acorns from the holm oak, ingredients that provide the characteristic taste of a Bellota.
Another quality characteristic is, for example, the characteristics of the pig's hoof; The hoof clearly shows whether the animal has lived indoors or outdoors, has had exercise, etc. It is precisely the movement that the animals have had that affects the taste of the ham.
Advice from Cati Gómez:
So remember; On the ham labels, look for the words: “Jamón de Bellota 100% Ibérico” instead of “Pata Negra.”
This is the only ham that 100% meets the highest quality according to the law, this does not mean that the other hams are bad, but it is important to be able to distinguish and understand how the prices of the different hams are determined, it is fair. !