235611525-Ham-drying-cellars.pdf - Ham drying cellars https/www..com/en/club/news/ham-­‐drying-­‐cellar Do you know what a ham drying cellar is

235611525-Ham-drying-cellars.pdf - Ham drying cellars...

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Unformatted text preview: Ham drying cellars -­‐drying-­‐cellar Do you know what a ham drying cellar is? Probably non-­‐existent in the UK, ham drying cellars are a common industry in Spain, as they are where the star product in Spanish gastronomy, 100% Iberico bellota ham, is produced. Maybe we should say “cured” as most Iberico ham businesses outsource the first steps of the process (salting and post-­‐salting) and only receive the ham in their own premises, in order to proceed with the curing of the product. Only the biggest companies include in their own factories, slaughter facilities and salting rooms. Even more so, when we’re talking about 100% Iberico bellota ham, as the slaughter of the pigs, in order to be considered “bellota” quality, can only take place during a certain period (December to end of March usually). The traditional ham drying cellar is usually divided in three main areas: top drying rooms, expedition area and underground cellar. The drying or curing of the hams is the longest phase in 100% Iberico bellota ham production: salting and post-­‐salting take place over a period of nearly three months, while the curing process takes more than three years. Of course the salting is essential, as a correct calculation on the proportion of salt and the time that the ham is covered in it, will ensure that the flavor of the ham has just the perfect saltiness in it, no more no less. But it will be the long years spent in the ham drying cellars when the true flavor and aroma of the best 100% Iberico bellota ham will really come out. The quality of a ham drying cellar depends a lot on its location, as if worked traditionally, the drying of the hams will require of a certain microclimate that we only find in certain areas of the country. The main ham producing zones in Spain are Jabugo (Huelva), Guijuelo (Salamanca) and maybe less well known, but also very good, “Sierra de los Pedroches” (Cordoba) and Extremadura. Many ham drying cellars are now open to the public for visiting and they usually have a shop, if you want to take back a little bit of the best Iberico bellota taste. The basics of the drying process are quite standard in all the areas mentioned above, but there are certain subtle differences that will be sure to influence the final flavor of the hams. The different climatology affects the times and the order of the process, i.e. it is common in the Salamanca area to begin the process in the underground or cool cellar and then continue in the warmer top cellars, while in Jabugo it is done the other way round initially. However in all cases the final year of the hams is spent again in the cooler and darker, usually underground cellars. The different climatology can also affect the final taste of the hams, although you would probably have to be quite an expert to appreciate it… The Salamanca area (Guijuelo) is much cooler than the Jabugo area, which determines that the hams in Jabugo sweat more profusely and the flavor and aroma concentrate more in the meat. Jabugo ham is therefore probably a little bit saltier and the taste is stronger than that of Guijuelo hams, which tend to be a little bit sweeter. The second factor that can also influence the taste of 100% Ibérico bellota ham is the different mosses that grow on their skin during the curing process. The types of moss vary depending on the climate of the area and also on the humidity and temperature of each season. So sometimes even in the same drying cellar, certain areas in the room can have slight variations in their humidity, which is why the hams are moved around in the cellar along the curing process to obtain the best consistency in their curing. 100% Iberico bellota ham is really a unique product, and only produced in Spain, so if you find yourself in one of the areas that we mention, specially in Jabugo or Guijuelo, don’t rule out a visit to a ham drying cellar, it makes a very interesting trip, and of course very tasty! -­‐drying-­‐cellar ...
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