The Iberian pig is a native breed of the Iberian Peninsula that stands out for its exceptional flavor and quality. However, within this breed, there are different degrees of purity that determine the quality and characteristics of Iberian ham and other derived products. These purity grades are based on the purity of the breed and breeding of the pig, and fall into four main categories:
100% Iberico de bellota
This degree of purity represents the highest quality within the Iberian pig. The pigs are 100% Iberian and are raised in the wild in pastures, where they feed exclusively on acorns and grass during the montanera season. Feeding with acorns provides a characteristic flavor and aroma to 100% acorn-fed Iberian ham. This type of ham is considered the most exquisite and is distinguished by its juicy texture, marbling with fat and a deep and delicate flavor.
In this category, pigs are also raised in the wild on pastures, but their racial purity may be less than 100%. They feed mainly on acorns and grass during the montanera, which contributes to an outstanding flavor and quality in Iberian acorn-fed ham. Although its purity is not complete, it is still considered a high-quality option.
Iberico de cebo de campo
This category includes pigs of the Iberian breed that are raised in a semi-extensive regime in the field. Although they do not feed exclusively on acorns, they have access to grass and a complementary diet based on natural feed. Cebo de campo Iberico ham has a characteristic flavor and appreciable quality, although it may be slightly lower compared to the higher grades of purity.
In this category, Iberian pigs are raised on farms and are fed mainly on natural feed. They do not have access to the montanera or to a diet based on acorns. Although they still retain some characteristics of the Iberian breed, the Iberian bait ham does not reach the same quality and distinctive flavor as the previous degrees of purity.
It is important to note that the categories mentioned refer mainly to Iberian ham and not to other products derived from the Iberian pig, such as sausages or loin. Each category has its own regulations and specific requirements that ensure the traceability and quality of the product.
When choosing Iberian ham, it is advisable to take into account the different degrees of purity, since they affect the organoleptic characteristics and culinary enjoyment. Each level offers a unique experience, but all share the distinction of being representative products of Spanish gastronomic excellence.