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Spanish Ham from Guijuelo

Spanish Ham from Guijuelo (Salamanca)

Ibérico Products from Guijuelo available at IberGour

DO Guijuelo Iberica Bellota Shoulder
D.O. Guijuelo Bellota Shoulder starting at 194.27 € paletilla weighing 5.25 kg
Stock: 3 paletillas (more in 3 days) see all weights
bone-in, boneless or sliced
Shoulder cuts from Guijuelo
Bone-in, Boneless & Sliced
Joselito Gran Reserva Iberico Bellota Ham
Joselito Gran Reserva Bellota Ham starting at 698.73 € jamon weighing 8.5 kg
Stock: 27 jamones see all weights
bone-in, boneless or sliced
Hind leg cuts from Guijuelo
Bone-in, Boneless & Sliced

Guijuelo is a town with a population around 10,000 in the southeast of Salamanca (Spain). It is the location of the central offices of the Regulatory Board for the Guijuelo Designation of Origin, created over 30 years ago and a pioneer in the ham sector.

Iberian pigs come from various parts of Spain: Salamanca, Extremadura, Cordova, Huelva, Seville and Castile La Mancha, but the hams are cured and aged only in the Guijuelo area. Its microclimate is essential for the curing process, which takes place in over 200 plants in towns such as Guijuelo, Ledrada, Sotoserrano, Miranda del Castañar, Béjar, Candelario, Frades de la Sierra, and Tamames.

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Guijuelo (Salamanca, Spain)
Guijuelo: Map and El Reloj Plaza

Guijuelo is situated on the Iberian plain over one thousand metres above sea level. It is bordered on the east by the Tormes River, on the west by Mt. Tonda and on the south by two mountain ranges: Sierra de Béjar and Sierra de Gredos. The microclimate is characterised by cold, dry winters and short, mild summers, ideal for perfect drying and excellent ageing of hams.

Iberian hams have been produced here since the Middle Ages, alongside other industries like leather tanning, footwear and soap. But in the past 100 years the sausage and ham industry has grown dramatically, thanks in part to the efforts made by the producers' associations and other local organisations to expand trade and information.

International fame dates from long ago. In 1892 a journalist named Wanderer published an article entitled "Candelario in the land of hams and sausages", analysing the ham and sausage industry in this town.

Characteristics of the Guijuelo Designation of Origin

Official labeling of Spanish ham from Guijuelo
D.O. Guijuelo official labels and seals (top to bottom): Bellota Pata Negra (acorn-fed purebred Iberian pigs), Bellota (acorn-fed crossbreed pigs) and Cebo de Campo (fed with compound feed and raised on the open range). Source: D.O.P. Jamon de Guijuelo.

Only purebred Iberian pigs or a cross of 75% Iberian and 25% Duroc-Jersey can be used for hams and shoulder cuts under this PDO.

There are two grades of hams based on the pigs' diet before slaughter:

The Regulatory Board monitors the entire production process, from the farms (breed, breeding, rearing, fattening or free-range fattening) until curing. After the animals have been butchered in a slaughterhouse registered with the Regulatory Board, the cuts are marked with an indelible stamp consisting of two letters identifying the batch.

Genuine acorn-fed Iberian pigs are butchered after a period of unperturbed rooting on the open range, and the hams undergo complete chromatographic testing. The result of this analysis is a provisional grade: a numbered red seal for bellota-grade Iberian hams and shoulders and green for Iberian grade.

The ham or shoulder then begins a lengthy process lasting two and a half or three years under the watchful eye of master ham processors. The first stage is curing, which lasts six months and is required for proper preservation. Then comes ageing, when the hams and shoulders undergo changes in taste and aroma resulting from a biochemical process that, together with the attributes of the raw material, gives them their traditional quality, especially their characteristic flavour and aroma.

Denomination of Origin Guijuelo

Hams from Guijuelo

Guijuelo ham slices
Guijuelo ham slices
Feeding on the open range in Salamanca
Feeding on the open range in Salamanca

Guijuelo ham stands out from the others on account of its sweet and delicate flavour. It is the coldest of all the regions where Iberian ham is cured, allowing less salt to be used and the hams to be cured for a longer period. This results in a less potent flavour, and one that does not leave an aftertaste on the palate or in the throat as, for example, a Jabugo ham may do, but it does offer an extremely interesting aromatic complexity.

The characteristics of Guijuello DO hams and shoulders are:

The deep red colour that appears on cutting is typical of free-range animals of advanced age (18 months). The marbling fat causes the glossy white streaks that characterise Iberian pork products and makes them juicy and tender. The intense, persistent aroma and flavour come from long ageing. Guijuelo ham is also known for its low salt content, resulting from optimum climate conditions that make the salting period shorter than in other parts of Spain.

Salamanca Ham & Shoulder (Denomination of Origin Guijuelo)

Time in the ageing cellar according to weight, grade and shape

  Cut weight of the piece at the slaughterhouse Minimum ageing time in the cellar Expected weight after cellar ageing
In hams from 7 to 8 Kg. 9 months from 4.5 to 5 Kg.
from 8 to 11 Kg. from 9 to 12 months from 5 to 7.5 Kg.
more than 11 Kg. 16 months more than 8 Kg.
In shoulder cuts 5 kg. 5 months from 3,5 to 4 Kg.
more than 5 Kg. 6 months more than 4 Kg.

Chemical composition of bellota-grade Iberian ham

Moisture 30%
Proteins 30%
Fat 30%, of which 70% are unsaturated fatty acids that do not produce cholesterol and are essential in the human diet
Calories 170 (per 100 grams)

Production figures

Guijuelo Designation of Origin logo
Guijuelo Designation of Origin logo

A total of 605,752 seals were issued in 2004 and 256,081 bellota cuts with bands went onto the market. In 2005 the figure for seals was 863,409, and 342,808 bellota hams and shoulder cuts protected by bands went onto the market, the highest percentage in the history of the PDO. In 2012, 868,875 hams and shoulders went onto the market (264.650 bellota-grade and 604.225 cebo-grade).

See also

Ibérico de Bellota Ham in Spain

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