The ham can be classified using two criteria: breed and diet. In the case of Iberian hams, they can also be classified according to the percentage of Iberian breed.

1. Iberian ham

Iberian ham comes from the Iberian breed pig, a native pig breed from the Iberian Peninsula. The meat from Iberian hams and shoulders is of a color from pink to the red purple, of a soft fibrous texture with infiltrated fat. Its fat is bright, juicy and oily, of an intense and soft touch.
They have that characteristic flavor and aroma thanks to the genetic of those pigs, which infiltrates fat in the muscles.

According to the official classification of iberian ham, they may be classified according to two criteria: breeding and fooding.

BREED OF THE PIG

This criteria concerns the percentage of Iberian breed in the ham. The percentages may be one of the following:

  • Iberian 50%: This means that the pig from which the ham comes has 50% Iberian breed. Of their parents, the female is 100% Iberian breed and the male is duroc.
  • Iberian 75%: This means that the pig from which the ham comes has 75% Iberian breed. Of their parents, the female is 100% Iberian and the male is 50% Iberian.
  • Iberian 100%: This means that the pig from which the ham comes has 100% Iberian breed. Of their parents, both are 100% Iberian.

2. Type of fooding

This criteria concerns the food of the pig during the fattening period. It may be classified in one of the following criteria:

  • Bellota: This means pigs have been exclusively fed with acorns and natural pastures and they are considered to be the highest quality ones. The labels used in Iberian hams are black for those 100% Iberian and red for those 50% Iberian.
  • Cebo de Campo: This means pigs have been fed with natural pastures and authorized feeds. The color of its label is dark green, regardless of the percentage of the Iberian breed. Previously, this type of hams used to be called "Recebo" according to the regulations about ham categories.
  • Cebo: This means pigs have been only fed with authorized feed and their label is white in all cases.

2. Serrano ham

Serrano ham comes from common pigs, which includes different breeds which are very similar. The color of its meat goes from pink to purple tones. Its texture is homogeneous and not very fibrous, with a mild and slightly salty flavor and a pleasant aroma. As for flavor, texture and aroma, it is less strong than that of Iberian ham, as long as it is well cured.

Officially, serrano hams are classified according to the curing time. We can find 3 categories:

  • Serrano Bodega: Curing between 10 and 12 months.
  • Serrano Reserva: Curying between 12 and 15 months.
  • Serrano Gran Reserva: Curying longer than 15 months of healing.