IBÉRICO, TRUNK! IBÉRICO!
Black, dark brown, blond, spotted…when we are talking about the Ibérico Pig we are actually referring to an autochthonous breed group pertaining to several lineages that are grouped together in what is known as the Ibérico Trunk.
The Ibérico Pig is a breed in which the origin can be traced to the Mediterranean wild boar (Sus mediterraneus), although there are also traces of the European wild boar in its genome (Sus scrofa) and of the wild boar of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Sus vittatus). There are actually records on the breeding of this pig that date to the protohistory period and its use, as we have already mentioned in other articles, is also recorded in the works of several Roman historians.
The geographic characteristics of the Iberian Peninsula favoured isolation of the different lineages of the Ibérico pig, which together with the selection of different characteristics on the part of the breeders gave rise to multiple genetic lines that all emerge from a common trunk (although many of them have not currently continued, as they were, so to say, “extinguished” along the way).
The different varieties of the Ibérico trunk have morphological characteristics in common and, above all, they all have the capacity for infiltration of fat inside the muscles (not always visible) that confers its characteristic and unique texture, aroma and flavour. Currently the breeds that form the Ibérico trunk are basically classified in accordance to their outer appearance, taking into consideration both its colour and the abundance of hair on the skin.
THE BLACK BREEDS:
- Smooth Black: Scarce amount of hair, fine bristles, thin skin and a colour with hues that range from intense black through to pale slate black.
- Hairy Black: more intensely black, with more hair, in particular on the back.
THE VARIETIES WITH DIFFERENT COLOURS:
- Dark Brown: different hues that range from the lightest cinnamon type, right through the darkest, which is practically black.
- Andalusian Blonde: pale colouring, which occasionally is almost golden.
- Jabugo Spotted: blondish with black spots that are asymmetrically arranged.
- Torbiscal: this variety is irregular in its colouring, ranging from dark blond to fiery dark brown.
A brief description of each one of the varieties can be found on the website of the Spanish Federation of Selected Breeds Breeder’s Associations (Federación Española de Asociaciones de Ganado Selecto) that includes the characteristics and photographs that show the main differences.
¿And what do we prefer at FISAN?
As mentioned above, all the genetic lines and lineages that are grouped in the Ibérico trunk have something in common, which is the capacity to generate deposits of infiltrated fat in the muscles; therefore, high quality Ibérico products with good organoleptic characteristics can be produced with all of them. Throughout an entire century of work we have focused (although not exclusively) on using specimens of the Retinta Extremeña Silvela variety.
This is a dark brown variety that has its origin at the beginning of the 20th Century and that was obtained by cross-breeding Portuguese Retinto boars with Retinta Extremeña sows. This is a lineage with animals that have a long-limbed appearance, with well-developed hams and loins, with a fine-boned skeleton and even-spaced Retinta colouring.
Indeed, the truth of the matter is that to assure extraordinary quality in our hams and sausage meats, at FISAN we have always been particularly concerned with the genetics of the breed and with correct development of the animals. This is precisely the reason why we personally supervise their free-ranging period in the meadows. This way we are not only sure of their genetic suitability, but also of their food source and fattening during the free-range period. Keep in mind that to obtain an Ibérico pork product of prime quality the breed alone does not suffice. Free-ranging is of essence, as is exercising in the meadows, a natural diet based on acorns, which is imperative in order to obtain the unctuosity, texture and aroma that make Ibérico products something absolutely singular. Something that is unique in the world.