Essay

Iberian Ham Prices in 2024: What to Expect When Buying and Why It’s So Expensive

Perhaps the most luxurious foods in the world come to mind when you think of delicacies like Kobe steak and caviar. Conversely, gammon is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. However, a piece of pork from pigs living a regal life in the Iberian peninsula is among the most costly delicacies on the planet. Let’s have a look at what Iberian gammon will cost in 2024 and why it is such a premium cut of meat.

Iberian Ham is the Most Expensive Ham in the World

Known by its proper name, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota or pata negra, Iberian gammon is among the priciest delicacies found on the planet. The average price of a leg of this mouthwatering meat is $1,000, but they can go considerably higher.

For instance, Eduardo Donato’s little farm in southwest Spain was featured by the BBC in 2018. Donato bought ten Iberian pigs in 1995, specifically the uncommon spotted species. He made the unusual decision to breed these creatures and rear them organically.

A few years later, Donato’s invention sold for an incredible €4,100 (almost $4,500) per leg. It seems that Taishi Co., Ltd. has since eclipsed even this record. The firm set a record for the sale price of an Iberian Bellota ham, selling for €11,881.3 (or $13,183.1).

Why Does Iberian Ham Cost So Much?

The high cost of Iberian gammon is due to several factors. First, purebred pigs native to the Iberian peninsula are the source of authentic 100% Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. These animals are not fed synthetic maize to fatten them down or given growth hormones.

Rather, they are permitted to graze unrestrictedly on primarily grass and acorns. Iberian pigs grow more slowly than industrial pigs because of this. Iberian pigs typically take twice as long as industrial pigs to achieve their ideal slaughter weight, according to Campo Grande.

The procedure doesn’t end when the pigs are prepared for slaughter. The only source of authentic Iberian gammon is the pigs’ hind legs. After that, the meat cut is salt-cured, a procedure that can take up to 48 months but usually requires at least twelve months.

Furthermore, real Iberian ham is sliced extremely thin and is hand-carved. Expert carvers are aware that the location on the leg where the gammon is sliced will affect the flavour of the cut. Iberian ham’s high price and attractiveness are further enhanced by this meticulous technique.

Taste

Iberian gammon is so delicious that it justifies its expensive price. When correctly sliced, the meat should have a rich, nutty, and smokey flavour and be so thin that the fat almost melts in your tongue.

The meat’s flavour might also change according on the area of the leg it is cut from. According to the BBC, for instance, drier cuts from closer to the hoof will have a sweeter, nutty flavour, while fattier cuts from near the hip have a rich, buttery flavour.

It is recommended to serve Iberian gammon at room temperature. It goes nicely with Spanish cheeses like Manchego and effervescent wines. Iberian gammon can also be simply enjoyed with some freshly sliced bread.

How to Purchase Iberian Ham

The cost of an Iberian gammon leg varies depending on a number of factors, as this article explains. Iberian ham that has been sliced and packaged may be shipped from Amazon or found at your neighbourhood Whole Foods or Costco. However, there are a few things to watch out for if you’re determined to sample true 100% Jamón Ibérico de Bellota.

For instance, check the label on your container of sliced gammon for the phrase “100% Ibérico.” If this isn’t stated on the product, it can be made from mixed breeds of pigs as opposed to purebred Iberian peninsulan pigs.

Authentic Iberian gammon is also carved by hand. Not that variety cut by machines won’t taste fantastic. But according to The Iberico Club, the procedure often entails deboning and pressing the leg into a rectangular block, which might alter the intricacies and texture of the final result.

Lastly, the pig’s hind leg is the source of authentic Iberian ham.A portion of flesh from the pig’s front leg is referred to as a “paleta” or “paletilla.” Paleta isn’t the same as hand-carved Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota, even though it might taste good.