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Glossary Of Jamón Terms

Añada - The “crop” or “vintage” of hams coming from pigs who shared the same montanera and were sacrificed at the same time. Each añada has its own characteristics and organoleptic properties.

Babilla or contramaza - The rump end of the ham, where the meat contains the most fat. This part is exposed for slicing when a whole ham is placed in the holder with the hoof facing down. La babilla is the part delimited between the femur bone and the coxal, and contains less meat than the part of the maza. It is recommended to start cutting ham in this part in order to preserve and to take advantage of the ham piece.

Bellota - Literally "acorn", refers to the acorns from encina oak trees and cork trees found on the Dehesa rangeland of western Spain.  Ibérico pigs that feast on these acrons are transformed into Jamón Ibérico de Bellota hams.

Bodega - The curing cellar where Ibérico hams hang to mature in an environment of controlled temperature and humidity level.

La caña - This has the same texture and flavor characteristics as the jarrete. This part of the ham is normally used in gastronomy to make small cubes.

Cebo - A grade of Jamón Ibérico that refers to the pigs finishing period if it only consists of a diet of commercial cereal feed.

Cerdo - Castilian for pig. Cerdo Ibérico is the Iberian pig.

Chacina - Macerated pork used for the production of sausages.

Chorizo - A dry-cured pork sausage that has a dominant flavor of pimentón de la Vera smoked paprika. Spanish chorizo is a different product than Mexican, which is a fresh sausage with hot peppers and vinegar as ingredients.

La Contramaza - The opposite part to the maza, this is the narrowest part of the ham and therefore the most cured, it is the part that contains the least proportion of fat.

Dehesa - The unique forested grassland of southwest Spain which is the pasture area for the Ibérico pig.

D. O. (Denomination of Origin) - A designation of quality assurance issued by specific regions for products whose origin and preparation are strictly monitored and meet the designation standards.

Dry cured - The old-fashioned way to preserve meat, where the meat is not cooked, but preserved with salt and other processes.

Ham knife - A long, flexible knife with a narrow blade, used to cut ham into paper thin slices. Otherwise known as a jamonera.

Iberian pig - Refers to any pig native to Spain,and is not specifically the indigenous breed of pig (Ibérico) of the southeastern Iberian peninsula. Depending upon its usage it may be a deliberately confusing term.

Ibérico - Means from the Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal. Specifically it refers to the age-old strain of pigs, Cerdo Ibérico, which have populated the peninsula for thousands of years. Also refers to ham and other embutidos / sausages / charcuterie that are made from the meat. Ibérico pigs are characterized by marbled fat, long, slender legs and black hoofs.

Jabugo is a generic term referring to Jamón Ibérico. It derives from the legendary hams produced in the rural village of Jabugo in far western Andalucía close to the Portuguese frontier.

JJJJJ / 5J / Cinco Jotas - Refers to the famous hams produced in the small town of Jabugo in western Andalucía by Sanchez Romero Carvajal.

Jamón - A generic term used to designate ham - the pig's hind leg cuts ("jamones").

Jarrete - This mellow part of the ham, located between the tibia and fibula, is served in small chunks. The meat is hard and fibrous with a concentration of flavor.

Lomo - The loin of the animal. After the fat is removed, the loin is marinated for a day or two in salt, Pimentón de la Vera - Spanish smoked paprika, as well as other condiments such as garlic and oregano, according to individual recipes. Then the marinated loin is made into a sausage with a natural casing and cured in the drying room for a period ranging from 12 weeks to 4 months.

Marbling - The veins of fat in the meat that impart complex flavors to the ham. In Ibérico Bellota hams, a majority of this marbling is healthy mono-unsaturated fat. It includes volatile compounds that impart flavors and aromas from the acorns and herbs that the pig consumed while grazing on the Dehesa forest meadow.

Matanza - Literally means "the sacrifice". The matanza is a Spanish harvest tradition that takes place once a year in the early winter, when an extended family gets together to sacrifice the pigs they have raised during the year and chorizos, loins and sausages are made for the family.

La Maza - The thicker, rump half of the ham, where the meat is most lean. The rump half of the ham is exposed for slicing when the whole ham is placed in a holder with the hoof facing up. La maza is the part where the ham has more meat, it is the main part of the ham, the richest and juiciest, and contains more quantity of loin.

Montanera - The period from autumn to the end of winter during which Ibérico pigs reach their final weight dining on the grasses and acorns of the Dehesa.

Organoleptic - The four properties that can be perceived by the senses: color, texture, flavor and aroma.

Paletilla - The shoulder cut of the pig.

Paleta - The shoulder of the pig, in contrast to the rump which is called a ham or jamón.

Pata negra - "Black hoof" is an informal name that refers to the Jamón Ibérico because the hoofs of the cerdo Ibérico are black. Interchangeable with "Jabugo" and Jamón Ibérico.

La Punta - The hip, or the opposite part of the hoof. This part has a lot of fat and therefore Is one of the more tasty parts of the ham. Fat is flavor.

Reserva - The designation for the category of finest premium hams, conveyed annually by the Producers' Association of the Denomination of Origin.

Salchichón - A dry cured pork sausage similar to the Spanish chorizo, but omitting the pimentón de la Vera smoked paprika and replacing it with vinegar and black pepper.

Secadero - A natural drying area designated for curing of Ibérico hams, where ventilation is controlled only by opening and closing windows.

Serrano - Refers to the mountains. Jamón Serrano is a country ham cured in the mountains of Spain.

Sweating - The diffusion of marbling fat through the ham that appears as tiny droplets on the surface at room temperature.