WHY IS A RESERVA IBÉRICA HAM SPECIAL
To get the best acorn-fed Iberian ham pieces, our team travelled to the Dehesas of the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula to search for the best pure-bred Iberian pig farms and to examine them one by one.
This close and privileged relationship with their areas of origin enables us to access the best pieces of each season, for each Designation of Origin. We work with small artisanal producers; they are the genuine guardians of a hundred-year-old tradition.
Choose the hams one by one is a slow process, which entails checking size, shape, colour and consistency, appreciating its aroma… We spend a long time and effort carrying out our work: to get the best acorn-fed Iberian ham. The final result is worth the effort.
As a result, we assure you that whatever the piece you choose at any of our stores, you will taste one of the best Iberian hams in the world. Only the best hams can be selected to be a Reserva Ibérica ham.
SHAPE AND COLOR
The lean meats of a Reserva Ibérica acorn-fed Iberian ham are bright and deep red with deep maroon shades when they are deeper, more cured and closer to the bone. The veined part is thin, white or pink and almost translucent; this indicates that the fat interspersed is of good quality and has high oleic oil content. The outer fat layer of the Reserve Ibérica Iberian hams has golden shades instead of yellow, and it turn pink in the parts closer to the cutting area.
A genuine acorn-fed Iberian ham has a stylized shape. The purer the breed is, the thinner the bone on the part of the ankle. A large distance between the hoof and the muscle means that it is an athletic animal able to travel long distances in search of acorns. It also indicates that it was free-ranged exercising daily and grazing freely on the Dehesa.
The feel of our Iberian ham has the consistency of a good curing and the fat has a soft texture that is indicative of a good feeding based on acorns.
AROMA AND FLAVOR
Each acorn-fed Iberian ham has a unique sweet-and-salty combination and a multitude of small touches due to fresh pastures and acorns. Any touch of flavour must dominate above the others, all of them must be combined fairly. The amount of salt used in the curing process must be neither too low nor so abundant that it even gets to mask the flavour. The sweet touches result from an optimal curing process. No two hams are the same. There are always taste variations, even within the same season and the same Designation of Origin. That is why is it so important to choose acorn-fed Iberian hams one by one, as Reserva Ibérica does.
The aroma of a genuine Iberian ham of a sublime quality is almost indescribable. Experienced tasters use terms such as “flavours” or “flaveurs” to refer to small touches of aroma and flavour which give each piece a distinctive personality. The main flavour is the roasted nuts flavour that comes from acorns which is the feed that gives the ham its character and its unique taste in the world. In a good acorn-fed Iberian ham, it is possible to identify tasting notes of hazelnuts, walnuts, toasted sugar, caramel, oak or cork oak wood, aromatic herbs like thyme or even citrus fruits. To choose the best hams the sense of smell is fundamental and the sense of smell of our professional staff is infallible. As well as in a dance, taste buds dance to the rhythm of its touches and enjoy a melody of sublime flavours.
The texture of a genuine acorn-fed ham is not the same as that of a common ham. A slice of any of our pieces, particularly when it comes from the part of the ham with more fat infiltration, has a smooth and velvety texture and it melts slowly in the mouth. It is a divine pleasure. These flavours remain forever in the memory. This special texture of Iberian ham is due to its monounsaturated fatty acid content (good cholesterol) that pure-bred Iberian pigs get from acorns. These healthy lipids are stored in the muscle of the animal thanks to pigs exercise constantly in the Dehesa, giving ham a texture incomparable.
THE ENIGMA OF UMAMI
Umami is the fifth dimension of gastronomy. Most of the cultures identify four tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. The fifth taste was discovered in Japan and it was called umami that in Japanese means savoury. Umami is that indefinable and almost addictive thing that we perceive in the Iberian ham. It is also presents in ripe tomatoes, artisanal cured cheeses and seafood.
Umami is difficult to define, but it is not just a question of sensitivity. A secret ingredient: a molecule that is naturally present in some foods. Acorn-fed Iberian ham is one of them. The Japaneses call this molecule “Ajinomoto” that means the essence of the taste. It makes the taste last longer on the palate and it contributes to salivation. That is why, our mouths water for a slice of genuine Reserva Ibérica Acorn-fed ham.
ART OF LIVING
The fat of acorn-fed Iberian ham is the heart-healthy of all animal fats. It contains more than a 55% of monounsatured oleic acid, a similar concentration to that of the virgin olive oil. Eat acorn-fed Iberian ham reduces the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the level of god cholesterol (HDL). In addition, it is rich in proteins, folic acid and vitamins B1, B6, B12 and E, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and selenium.
It has antioxidant properties, prevents ageing and contributes to the effective functioning of the nervous system. In addition, it is non-fattening. 100g of ham provides less than 250 calories. Two slices of ham provides 65 calories. Acorn-fed Iberian ham is the secret Mediterranean diet jewel. In other words, it is the art of living taking care of body and soul.
The soul of Reserva Ibérica is Manuel López, a native of Barcelona that grew up surrounded by hams. As a child he learned to identify the best hams due to their touch, shape and aroma. As expert, he has cut more than 27.000 pieces. From his parents stall at La Boquería market, Manuel started his own career. He studied economics and received an MBA. He held positions in different companies until he decided to return to his roots and to create Reserva Ibérica, a tribute to the art and culture of the acorn-fed Iberian ham.
Rather than a businessman or a taster, Manuel is a “ham turner”. He can be considered as a “ham turner” due to his great sensitivity that allow him to choose the best pieces and to his capacity to work with artisan products until reaching the optimum maturation state. The turner of a musical instrument gets a brighter sound and a perfect melody. Manuel López, the “ham turner”, makes each Iberian piece a unique and unrepeatable harmony of flavours.