DOP de jamón en España

The 5 PDO for ham in Spain

Oil, cheese, fruit, paprika, mussels, wine and of course, ham. These are some of the many foods that have been acknowledged in our country as a paragon of quality with a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), a total of 101 agro-food products. This stand-out quality figure is protected by Europe, guaranteeing consumers a series of product characteristics that make this product unique and inimitable. Although other types of quality seal exist, such as the PGI and the TSG, today we wish to focus on the 5 Protected Designations of Origin for ham that exist in Spain. If you want to know the differences between the quality seals, you can read this entry in our blog. Differences between PDO, PGI and TSG.

There are 4 PDO for Iberian cured ham in our country and only one for white pig ham. Let’s start with the latter, not only because it’s the oldest but also because it’s the one we know best at La estrella del jamón.

Teruel Ham PDO 

In 1984, the Aragon Government Agriculture Ministry approved what would be the Regulation for the Teruel Ham DO. It would not be ratified by the Ministry of Agriculture until March the following year.

Teruel province’s cold climate, plus its relief and its traditional know-how, were key in terms of requesting and approving the acknowledgement of this seal that thereby awarded the first PDO for ham in Spain and the third in the world after Parma and San Daniele, both in Italy. Teruel Ham joined this list in February 2014.

This ham comes from crossed-race Duroc pigs on the paternal line and Landrace, Large White or a cross of both on the maternal line, born, raised and slaughtered in the same province. It is characterised by having a smooth, not particularly salty flavour. Although it can be cured with its skin left on or cut in a V, most production keeps the hide intact, following local tradition, and to get longer curing as time is the most important factor in the pleasant flavour of its marbled lean meat, maintaining its white fat. According to its specifications, the minimum curing time is 60 weeks and it should not weigh less than 7 kg.

PDO Teruel Ham has three distinctive signs to avoid possible frauds: it keeps the hoof on (not very usual in other hams cured in the area), it has a numbered band featuring the PDO logo and the eight-point Arabic star is branded into the skin. Only ham protected by the Teruel Ham Control Board can be called ‘Jamón de Teruel’.

Guijuelo PDO

This production area, that encompasses 78 towns located in the Sierra de Béjar and the ‘Peña de Francia’, in the south east of Salamanca province, is one of the most traditional ham-making areas in Spain. This led to it becoming the first Iberian cured ham PDO in our country in 1986.

Just like the province of Teruel, this zone has a dry, cold climate that helps to gives its hams their typical sweet flavour. It has three ham categories with coloured seals that match the ASICI seals (like the other Iberian PDOs): black for 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham; red for 75% Iberian race acorn-fed ham and green for 100% or 75% Iberian race natural range feed hams.

As opposed to other PDOs, its production zone (for raising and fattening the pigs) extends over a very wide area that encompasses 11 provinces from 4 autonomous regions from the west to the south east of Spain, that have traditionally supplied it with meat.

Dehesa de Extremadura PDO

Stretching over a tree-filled pasture of more than a million hectares, Extremadura could not be denied the privilege of a PDO. So, the Dehesa de Extremadura Protected Designation of Origin was set up in 1990.

Its production zone ranges through the seas of cork oaks and holm oaks in its two provinces, Caceres and Badajoz, just like its ham-making zone that centres above all on the districts to the south east of Badajoz, Ibor-Villuercas, Cáceres-Gredos Sur, Sierra Montánchez and Sierra de San Pedro. There they cure very high-quality hams, entirely recognisable by their strong taste on the palate. We are talking about 100% Iberian acorn-fed hams, 75% Iberian race and 100% and 75% Iberian nature range feed hams, sold with black, red and green seals respectively with bands in the same colours as the seals.

Jabugo PDO

In 1998, Huelva Ham was registered as a Protected Designation of Origin, but it was not until March 2017 when it changed its name to one of the emblematic ham towns in Spain: Jabugo.

The area where they raise and fatten the pigs is limited to the Extremadura meadows and the Andalusian provinces of Cordoba, Huelva, Seville, Cadiz and Malaga. However, it is the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche zone and its climate that give this ham its organoleptic characteristics. It is doubtlessly another of the great names in hams, enjoying international fame.

Since 8th October 2018, the Jabugo PDO has only and exclusively certified 100% Iberian acorn-fed hams although for a time we will still be able to find hams on the market that are 100% Iberian acorn-fed, 75% Iberian race acorn-fed and 100% and 75% Iberian race natural range feed.

Los Pedroches PDO

The youngest of the ham DO in Spain (registered in 2003) is located in Cordoba, where there is the largest continuous stretch of tree-filled pasture in the south of Europe with over 300 thousand hectares of holm oak, cork oak and Gall oak.

The district used to mainly focus on livestock and little by little it has been industrialised and produces part of the hams that are traditionally made in zones such as Huelva and Salamanca. Like the Teruel DOP, all the pigs are born, raised and slaughtered in the province, where they also make this delicious sweet and aromatic ham.

Just like all the other Iberian PDOs (each with its own specifications), Los Pedroches mark hams with black, red and green seals to define the 100% Iberian acorn-fed products, 75% Iberian acorn-fed and 100% or 75% Iberian natural range feed hams.

This is just a short summary of the 5 designations of origin for ham that exist in Spain. Each Control Board’s website provides much more information beyond what we have given here, although we hope that this has been useful to clarify some aspects.

A PDO is a differentiated brand that gives consumers an extra guarantee concerning what they are eating. Give them a try and find out which one you like best. It’ll be a wonderful experience, without a doubt.

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