Spain cures U.S. desire for Iberico ham

USA Today


December 14, 2007

Jerry Shriver

Gastronomes who flock to Spain to partake of the country's famous cured meats will no longer have to smuggle the most prized example back home: Ibérico hams have been approved for sale in the USA for the first time, and a small initial supply is making its way into the retail pipeline this month.

Jamón Ibérico comes from Ibérico pigs native to Spain. They roam and forage outside, and a small percentage spend their final months in oak forests eating an acorn-intensive diet. The hams are cured for two years or more, resulting in a deep mahogany color, nutty flavor and creamy texture.

Embutidos Fermín of Spain, the sole producer authorized to export to the USA, has shipped about 300 of the more common Jamón Ibérico hams here, which they will sell in gourmet stores and online at for about $50 a pound. The Bellota hams, made from acorn-fed pigs, are due this summer and will sell for about $100 a pound.
"The difference is the depth of the flavor — the intensity and nuttiness set it apart," says Don Harris, of online retailer La Tienda of Williamsburg, Va.

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