Jamón is not just a delicious delicacy created on Spanish lands, it is a real symbol of the country. Jamón is well-known all over the world as the national dish with its history and unique recipe of cooking. Pork leg is often brought as a tasty souvenir from Catalonia, but not every product would be tasty and fragrant. In order not to make a mistake, buying a jamón in Barcelona is recommended after reading the tips and advice of experienced tourists.
You can find the Barcelona jamón on every street in the city, but you shouldn’t put a lot of money on the first pork leg you see. There are many varieties of dishes, not everyone is tasty and fragrant, and not every outlet deserves attention.
Types and features of the jamón
What’s a jamón in Spain?
A savoury gourmet delicacy is a raw back part of the pig’s leg. The peculiarity of the product is that it is prepared for a long time, without using preservatives and flavors. Term of preparation of a jamón – 2 years!
At the first stage the pork leg is prepared – it is salted and dried, depending on the region where it is harvested, the process takes from several months to six. This is followed by the drying process, when the leg is hung and kept in the cellars for up to a year. The product matures in unique climatic conditions and only after that is sent to the shelves of shops.
Pay attention! Each product is marked. On the label you can find out where and when the delicacy is ripened. This often determines the taste and aroma of the product.
Types of Spanish jamón
To choose a ham in Barcelona, you should pay attention to the place of grazing pigs and further maturation of the product. On the shelves of Spanish shops you can find these types of products:
This is a white pig breed that grazes on mountain pastures. This is a budget and simple version of the jamón, the finished product will be inferior to “Ibérico” (it will be discussed later). This is explained not only by the peculiarities of climatic zones, but also by the degree of maturation of meat. In this category, it is proposed to buy a jamón:
Bodega – a pork leg ripens to a year.
Reserva – the aging period does not exceed 9 months.
Curado – only 6-7 months old.
The name comes from a breed of black pigs. There is also a gradation by the type of food the animals consumed:
Bellota – is the most expensive variety. The high prices for this type of jamón are explained by the fact that the animals were exclusively fed with acorns. It is a caloric product which allows to gain weight to an animal and to give to a ready product special aroma.
Recebo – in addition to the acorns, the pigs also received fodder. This is an auxiliary feed based on plant components.
It is your personal preference to choose a product according to your taste and aroma, but it is better to choose a jamón without cuts. The whole pork leg retains its original properties and qualities, its nutritional value. All information about the method of preparation, the breed of pigs and the type of food used to breed the pig is always presented on the label.
Tips for choice
In order not to make a mistake and eat jamón fresh and delicious, you should buy the product in a specialized store. The leg should be stored at a temperature of +5…+10 degrees, so do not pay attention to the product, which hangs outdoors, in the summer sun.
Using the secrets of choice, you can find a quality jamón:
- it is possible to determine the freshness after considering the meat cut. You should be able to see the veins and white inclusions well. This is tyrosine, an amino acid that is part of the protein;
- to find out how long it takes to dry a pork leg. Elite varieties are maintained 48 months. Not a bad variant – jamón of 36-month aging;
- to try a slice. The more mature the meat, the harder it will be. This is explained simply by the fact that water comes out of the product during the drying process. Now for beginners it should be clear why the meat is being cut into very thin slices.
If a dried pork leg has become a frequent guest on your table, it is worth thinking about buying a jamónera, ham stand (holder) – it is a special stand used for cutting the product.
In Spain, there is also a special jamón knife. Do not forget that the taste of the product often depends on the quality and characteristics of cutting. To make the jamón melt in your mouth, you should remove the protective film, and then finely cut the product into slices. The meat should be placed on a wooden plate and left for a while. Jamón fits well with wine, bread or fruit.
Where to buy a jamón in Barcelona?
You can buy a good product that will delight you with flavor and taste in specialized shops and markets. In the latter case, you can find a good grade leg for only 50-100 euros. In the shop the leg of the jamón costs a little more, but there are also special offers. Gourmets know that a good product is sold in:
- El Cortes Ingles (in the supermarket on the ground floor);
A pleasant feature of such purchase will be the opportunity to buy quality goods, and in addition to try several types of meat. In standard retail outlets you can buy a cutting, which is often the best option for tourists.
To buy an elite jamón, you will have to find a specialized shop:
- Jamon Reserva Iberica;
- Jamon Experience.
Each point has its own website. For a pleasure to taste the elite product you need to pay 150-200 euros per pork leg weighing 7-8 kg. But the variety Belotta will be even more expensive – up to 300 euros per leg.