Until now the new regulation on Ibérico only affected loins and shoulder hams due to their shorter curing period.
The new regulation on Ibérico is applicable to Hams, shoulder hams and loins obtained from Ibérico pigs as of the 2014 campaign. Until now you would have found loins and shoulder hams with this denomination, however, as of now hams corresponding to the year 2014 will now be on sale under this new regulation.
And how does this affect the consumers?
The new denominations for Ibérico products saw the light with the intention of offering the consumer all possible information about the product they purchase. Hence, apart from the diet and the way the pigs are reared, which are the same as up until now, the genetic purity of the Ibérico pig is also included.
This is as such because the Duroc-Jersey breed has been used since the sixties, crossing it with the Ibérico pigs in order to improve productivity and occasionally to bring forward its organoleptic characteristics. This cross-breeding is present in many Ibérico products that we have consumed since then, however, it has not been until the arrival of this new regulation that the manufacturer was actually informing the consumer with absolute exactitude.
The 2014 Ibérico regulation took into account 3 possibilities in as far as the genetics of the Ibérico are concerned:
100% Ibérico Breed pigs, born from 100% Ibérico fathers and mothers.
75% Ibérico Breed pigs, born from 100% Ibérico mothers and 50% Ibérico fathers.
50% Ibérico Breed pigs, born from 100% Ibérico mothers and 100% Duroc fathers.
On the other hand the diet is now reduced to three categories (with recebo disappearing): Bellota (Acorn-Fed), Cebo de Campo (combination of feed and natural pastures) and Cebo (fed only grains and legumes).
In the case of the Ibérico Bellota (Acorn-Fed) and Ibérico Cebo de Campo (combination of feed and natural pastures), both are reared the traditional way, the same way as has been done for hundreds, or even thousands of year. They free-range part of the time throughout the southwest meadowlands of the Iberian Peninsula roaming and feeding under the Holm Oaks, Oaks or Cork Oaks. This freedom of movements contributes to correct infiltration of the animal’s fat. Those corresponding to Bellota (Acorn-Fed), when they turn one year old, have the added luck of enjoying a free-range period called the Montanera (free-ranging period) that lasts through the autumn and winter. This is the time when they gorge on acorns and more acorns, until their complete development is reached.
Those corresponding to Cebo de Campo (combination of feed and natural pastures) are not quite as lucky as they do not enjoy the acorns during their development, although they do receive complementary feed based on natural components (cereals, corn, legumes,…) that are different to the feed used for the “white” pig, as they are specially designed for our autochthonous breed.
The Ibérico Cebo Pig is not quite lucky enough to enjoy such extensive areas for its raising, as it is normally kept stabled on farms and its diet mainly consists of natural feed.
And what will the exact denomination of the product be?
As of the year 2014 the correct denomination for Ibérico products will be divided into three parts: Type of product + Diet + Breed, always in this order. (Up until now it used to read Ibérico de Bellota and as of now it will read Bellota Ibérico). Hence the denominations we will find in hams, loins and shoulder hams as of entry into force of this regulation are:
Ham + de bellota (acorn) + 100% Ibérico.
Ham + de bellota (acorn) + Ibérico +75% or 50% Ibérico breed
Ham + de cebo de campo (combination of feed and natural pastures) +100% Ibérico.
Ham + de cebo de campo + Ibérico + 75% or 50% Ibérico breed
Ham + de cebo (fed only grain and legumes) + 100% Ibérico
Ham + de cebo (fed only grain and legumes) + Ibérico + 75% or 50% Ibérico breed
The same denominations will be applied to the shoulder hams and loins.
So then, what do the coloured tags mean exactly?
Also, for greater guaranty, each and every ham counts with an official inviolable colour tag that is placed as of the moment that the pig reaches the slaughterhouse (you can see them in the image that accompanies this post). Following is the exact information so that you can check the label and tag yourself and see that it exactly corresponds to the product you purchase:
BLACK: de Bellota (acorn-fed) 100% Ibérico
RED: de Bellota Ibérico (acorn-fed)
GREEN: de Cebo de Campo Ibérico (combination of feed and natural pastures)
WHITE: de Cebo Ibérico (fed only grain and legumes)
To top it all off, a small reminder: you will still encounter Ibérico hams with the former denomination. This is absolutely normal, as these correspond to years prior to 2014.