Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Jamon Iberico and Jamon Serrano: best, better, and really good. This tasting trio of jamones from Spain is the best way to compare and pick your favorite. Both Bellota and Iberico are produced from native black pigs in the Iberian Peninsula so called Pata Negra. These are free range animals that are allowed to graze in the Dehesa forests as they have done for millennia. Where they part ways is at the montanera. There only some pigs are allowed to eat exclusively the acorns (bellotas) from the elms and oaks that in late fall cover the forest floor. Pigs also are what they eat, so this part of their diet is what gives the finish product its distinct flavor and unique aroma. Jamón Serrano on the other hand is produced from white pigs and it has the distinction of being the most popular ham in the country where ham is a national treasure.
All jamones from Spain are cured in salt for a few weeks and then dried in the brisk mountain air for at least 18 months and, in the case of the Ibericos at least 24.