Iberico Black Foot Pig
The Ibérico Black-Foot Pig
The Ibérico pig is a descendant of the wild boar and is the last remaining free-grazing breed in Europe.
The following features are what define an Ibérico pig and differentiate it from other breeds:
> Fine, long hindquarters
> A long defined snout
> Forward pointing ears, with a tendency to flop forwards over the eye
> A high, arched ribcage
> Capacity to infiltrate large quantities of fat in its muscles
> A tendency to fatty flesh
The Ibérico Pig’s Natural Habitat
The Ibérico pig’s habitat is the pastureland known as the ‘dehesa’. The dehesa, an ecosystem halfway between forest and grassland, is one of the most typical and beautiful features of the Iberian landscape.
The acorn, which is the fruit of Holm, Cork and Gall Oaks, is the basis of the pigs’ diet, and these oak woods make up the pastureland.
The pigs thrive and grow in the dehesa. They feed from it and contribute to its conservation thanks to the success of Ibérico pork products.
It is in southwest Spain where we find the acorn-bearing dehesas and the Joselito ranches. Joselito raise and fatten up their own herds, having 100% control over the production process from beginning to end.
Born and raised in the countryside, these pigs stay in the dehesa until they are ready for slaughter. Rearing starts when the piglet stops relying on its mother for food, with the piglet weighing approximately 10-12kgs. This continues until it weighs about 23kgs.
Rearing and feeding are entirely traditional with a diet based only on natural products. As June and July approach, the pigs’ diet is restricted in order to start controlling their weight and the levels of fat.
During the fattening stage, known as the ‘montanera’, the pigs graze freely and feed on acorns found beneath the trees. This particular diet reaches its peak between the months of November and January (the acorn season), and is complemented with fresh grass, roots and aromatic herbs.
The constant exercise taken by the pigs as they search for acorns throughout the montanera is one of the determining factors of the excellent quality and the tenderness of the meat. (Plus, the exercise distributes the fat throughout the muscle giving the meat the marbled effect typical of a good ibérico product.)
The animals chosen for the montanera, are the most developed and mature animals, for two reasons:
> Having stopped growing, any food the pigs eat will turn into fat. Due to their diet this will be primarily made up of acorns and it is this that gives the end product its distinctive flavour and aroma.
> The animals are strong and capable of surviving the autumn and winter months in the open countryside.
The long and slow curing process sets Iberian ham apart from all others. It usually starts at the coldest point of winter so as to be able to take advantage of the gradual increase in temperature leading up to late summer. During the winter months, cold mountain winds blow onto the hams while in direct contrast, during the hot summer, the hams sweat and shed a significant proportion of their weight in fat.
It is not until the following winter that the final slow process of ageing takes place in the dark silent cellars. Here, the darkness, humidity and temperature are perfect for the completion of the curing process, allowing the hams’ unique flavour and aroma to develop fully.
The Secret Of The Taste
This comes about as a result of the combination of four key elements:
> Cárnicas Joselito own large areas of land where they breed stock of guaranteed origin.
> The natural, balanced diet is the key to the exquisite sensory quality of the meat.
> The production and curing process is traditional and therefore typically slow.
> Only the best hams are selected, uniform in their supreme shape and excellent aroma.