Hams are produced throughout Spain, especially in mountainous areas with mild, dry summers and cold winters, which is ideal for curing.
These mountainous areas gave Jamón Serrano its name; Jamón Serrano means "mountain country ham." Just about every hamlet and mountain village boasts their own version of the Jamón Serrano, because in the days before easy transportation each village produced their own hams following local custom.
The quality of these hams is determined by the rearing of the pig, the cool mountain breezes that cured the hams, and its processing. Drawing on a wealth of experience, a skilled ham master determines the perfect time for each phase of curing until he determines that it is time to bring his masterpiece to market.
Since 2001, the European Union protects the process of Serrano ham production with the certification T.S.G., Traditional Specialty Guaranteed. This certification protects the authentic taste of Serrano ham and ensures consumers in Europe and all over the world that it refers to an authentic and genuine product.
In 1990, the Consorcio del Jamón Serrano Español was formed to bring together the principal producers/exporters of Serrano ham in Spain, with the objective of guaranteeing the quality of Spanish Serrano ham and to offer a high quality product for export.
A Serrano ham certified by the Consorcio bears the label of the Consorcio del Jamón Serrano Español with its control number, and the "S" in the shape of a ham branded on the skin of the ham guarantees that the Serrano ham has passed the Consorcio's rigorous standards.
Jamón Ibérico is produced in the natural range of the Cerdo Ibérico (the Ibérico pig), mainly in the high mountain meadows of western and southwestern Spain along the Portuguese border and in parts of Andalucía. In fact, the Ibérico ham designation can only refer to pigs reared in regions where the Dehesa natural pasture lands are found. These are:
Salamanca - the town of Guijuelo and surrounding area, in the region of Castile and León Extremadura.
Huelva - the province that includes town of Jabugo and surrounding area, in the western most area of Andalucía.
Los Pedroches Valley - in the region of Andalucía northwest of Córdoba.
Flavor profiles are determined by the area where the animals are raised. The Jamón Ibérico produced in different regions varies because of their particular microclimate and unique vegetation.
In order to assure the integrity of the Jamón Ibérico, local governmental agencies set strict standards concerning the geographic origin of the ham, the lineage of the pigs, the rearing of the animals and the steps followed to produce the final product. This earns the designation Denominación de Origin.
There are currently four distinct regions producing Ibérico hams:
Denominación de Origen Guijuelo
c/ Filiberto Villalobos
6 37770 Guijuelo (Salamanca)
Denominación de Origen Dehesa de Extremadura
c/ Cánavos del Castillo s/n
06800 Mérida (Badajoz)
Denominación de Origen Jamón de Huelva
c/ Plaza doña Elvira s/n
21200 Aracena (Huelva)
Denominación de Origen Los Pedroches
c/ Real 6
14440 Villanueva de Córdoba