About Jamón Serrano

January 2010

Jamón Serrano is a source of great pride among Spaniards. From time immemorial in the mountains of Spain, artisans have packed fresh hams in sea salt and hung them from their rafters to cure. A year to eighteen months later the jamones are ready to mount on special stands that are designed so that anyone can stop by, carve a few paper-thin slices, and enjoy an impromptu snack – perhaps with some manchego cheese.

It is unlike the smoked and salty Virginia country hams, which have to be soaked and cooked. And it is significantly different from Italian prosciutto, which is cured for a few months with a coating of lard. The Spanish Jamón Serrano has distinctly more flavor, and significantly less salt than country ham and less fat than prosciutto. 

Jamón Serrano is more than a delicacy in Spain; it is a normal part of every family’s life. Every tapas bar and neighborhood café has their own hams. During the Holiday Season there are literally hundreds of them hanging from the rafters of major food stores for the holiday shoppers.

What is the appeal? Jamón Serrano is a flavorful, natural ham, cured in the country air. This extended curing transforms the ham, imparting a deep flavor and aroma. You can serve it sliced paper-thin with cheese and olives, or use it to flavor your favorite Spanish recipes. No cooking is necessary.

The secret to jamón lies in its curing, recreating the effect of traditional techniques. This tradition is kept alive in rural areas where in early winter, family and friends gather to slaughter their livestock in preparation for winter months. The hams are placed in sea salt for a brief period of time – approximately one day per kilo – and then they are strung up. They are allowed to experience the changes of temperature as the seasons progress. The right time to eat them is when an experienced ham-master inserts a long splinter of cow bone and whiffs the jamón, like a connoisseur of wine who sniffs the cork.

Until recently there were no Serrano hams in the U.S. and we are proud to carry the best that are available. Whole hams are great for parties and family get-togethers, while a package of slices is convenient and great to serve at a moment's notice. However you serve it, Jamón Serrano will add the flavor of Spain to your home.

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