The Ministry of Agriculture has awarded the title to “Juan Manuel Hernández, añada 2016” (Salamanca) and “Serrano Reserva Escámez” (Murcia)
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food has granted the awards for “Foods of Spain, Best Ham 2020”, which is divided into two categories: “Iberian Bellota Ham” and “Serrano Ham or Other Figures of Differentiating Quality”. These awards, which have just completed their third edition, are organized with the goal of “promoting quality ham and improving its image and position in the market”.
This year, the winner of the first category is the 100% Iberian Bellota ham “Juan Manuel Hernández, añada 2016”, of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Guijuelo, while the prize for the second category has been given to “Serrano Reserva Escámez”, presented by Hermanos Escámez Sánchez, of Bullas (Murcia).
In the “Iberian Bellota Ham” category, other finalists were the 50% Iberian Bellota ham raza ibérica “Blázquez”, of Jamones Ibéricos Blázquez S.L. (Salamanca); and 100% Iberian Bellota ham “Monte Nevado”, presented by Jamones Segovia S.A. Monte Nevado, of Carbonero el Mayor (Segovia).
The finalists of the “Serrano Ham or Other Figures of Differentiating Quality” include the “Gran Reserva 7 Hermanos” ham, of the ETG Jamón Serrano, presented by Cárnicas 7 Hermanos, S.A., of Valmojado (Toledo); and the “Jamones Casa Vieja” ham, which comes from the PDO Jamón de Teruel, of Jamones Casa Vieja S.L., of Calamocha (Teruel).
In this edition, 49 samples participated, 27 in the first category and 22 in the second. The selection process does not only focus on flavor, but rather is divided into two phases: one based on aesthetic characteristics and another based on aroma and taste
In the visual category, the cut and exterior aspect of the ham is evaluated. In the next phase, the aroma, flavor, and texture of the ham is taken into account, along with the other sensations on the palate, the aftertaste, and the overall impression.
How to Choose a Good Ham
Even if you’re not a culinary professional, it is possible to distinguish whether or not a ham is high-grade following certain guidelines. The simplest way to know if you are buying a quality ham is by its tag.
A 100% Iberian ham from a pig that has been fed only acorns during an established period of time (minimum 60 days) will have a black tag. This is the highest quality ham that you can find. A red tag denotes a 75% Iberian ham. In this case, only the breed changes, while the feeding guidelines remain the same as for a ham with a black tag.
A ham leg with a green tag is a 50%-75% Iberian ham which hasn’t necessarily been fed acorns, but rather animal feed. Finally, a white tag marks a pig that has only been fed animal feed and was raised on a farm, in which case it is possible that it has never in its life seen sunlight.
Serrano ham, on the other hand, comes from white pigs, who are not fed acorns, but rather animal feed. To select a quality Serrano ham, look for a leg with the ETG-Jamón Serrano tag (Traditional Specialty Guaranteed). This signifies that it complies with certain minimum quality standards, such as a curing process with a minimum of 210 days.