Iberico: Curing Process
MEATBAR has chosen to proudly serve Fermin cured jamon for one specific reason… their
process! There’s simply no skirting the fact that the Fermin production process is slow and
laborious, but the finished meat is arguably the finest jamon on the planet.
The curing process established by the Martin family (owners of Fermin) is a time-honored
tradition and the legacy that makes this product so special. For more than 60 years, Fermin has
followed the exact same recipe and perfected the process by which their Iberico pork products
are butchered, preserved, and selected for release.
It all begins with the butchering and profiling of the ham and shoulder cuts where each piece is
deliberately cleaned to remove the excess fat. The cuts are then trimmed in a precision manner
so that no exposed holes or fissures are left at the surface. Attention to detail is paramount at
this point to avoid contamination of the meat during the curing process. Expert butchers take
their time at this initial phase to ensure that every cut of meat is trimmed to perfection.
Next comes the salting and washing process. Salting is an old-world technique that allows meat
purveyors to preserve fresh food without the use of artificial ingredients. At Fermin, each leg is
stacked and covered in salt within a temperature-controlled environment. This encourages the
natural dehydration of the meat. Room humidity is also monitored to maintain optimal salt
distribution as it surrounds these specialty cuts. Once the pieces have completed the salting
process, lukewarm water is used to rinse the meat, which both cleanses it and removes any
excess salt from the exterior. Once cleaned, the legs are then hung for 3-4 months which allows
the salt (which was absorbed by the meat in the salting process) to evenly spread throughout
the interior of the ham.
The maturation process…
Controlled temperature and humidity are considered a critical step in the aging process. Proper
drying and aging of the meats and achieving a stable temperature in this case is imperative for
safe and proper maturation. Fermin relies on ventilated rooms to adapt to the natural
“sweating” of the fatty parts of the meat throughout the day. This is considered a traditional
way of thoroughly drying the meat and over the course of time, each piece will lose between
30-40% of its original weight.
How long does the meat cure?
Fermin deploys a very artisanal, slow-aging approach to curing their meats. The complete
curing process timeframe will depend on the specific breed of pig being aged and, of course,
the size of the cut. Generally speaking however, here are some basic guidelines;
- Acorn-fed Iberico ham is cured for a minimum of 36 months
- Acorn-fed shoulder a minimum of 20 months
- Iberico ham (not acorn-fed) a minimum of 24 months
- Iberico shoulder (not acorn-fed) a minimum of 16 months
- Serrano ham a minimum of 18 months
- Serrano shoulder a minimum of 10 months
It is during this time of aging where these special cuts of meat begin to refine their overall
aroma, flavor, and texture.
Once the aged meats reach their full curing time, Fermin employs specially trained Ham
Masters to inspect each one, piece by piece. Using a natural bone pick, the Ham Masters insert
the pick deep within the cured ham and give it a thorough inspection. These meat experts are
responsible for inspecting every piece of jamon that enters and leaves the Fermin facility.
Rest assured that when your mouth waters around that first bite of Fermin jamon, you will
taste the level of quality that can only be achieved through such a hands-on and attentive