Jamón Ibérico: new labels for the authentic “pata negra”

Spain’s government acted to protect the global reputation of its prize cured ham, the exquisite ruby-red Jamón Ibérico, by simplifying labels and tightening quality.

Among the most sought-after hams in the world, the best quality Spanish cured ham is made from a pig of the purebred, black-hoofed indigenous Ibérico race, which has been fattened on acorns as it wanders the meadows.commercial jumping castle for sale

“Jamón Ibérico is a star produce of Spanish gastronomy. It is the flagship,” Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete told a news conference. But the rules were “enormously confused”, leaving consumers in Spain and abroad puzzled about what they were buying, he said after a meeting of ministers approved the reform.

Under the new rules, labels must tell shoppers if the product came from a pig that was 100 percent iberico or of a lesser percentage, depending solely on verified breeding records.

The number of categories of Jamón Ibérico was sliced from four to three: “bellota (acorn)” for a pig fattened on acorns in open fields; “cebo de campo” (field feed) for a pig fattened in open fields on natural grazing and fodder; and “cebo (feed)” for a pig raised in a feeding pen.

The best pigs are fed exclusively on acorns over the winter, a diet that gives the fat a unique, sweet flavour.

The new reform introduces a colour-coded system for labels: black for 100-percent iberico pigs raised on acorns; red for mixed race iberico pigs fattened on acorns; green for those raised in the open on other feeds; and white for those fattened in a feeding pen.

Among the new quality controls, legs of iberico cured ham below a certain weight were barred for sale, checks on the period of time a ham is cured were tightened and minimum space requirements were set for live pigs raised in fields or feeding pens.

Slovenia vs Croazia for Istrian Prosciutto

Following Slovenia’s objection to the Croatian application for an EU-wide protected designation of origin for Istrian prosciutto, Croatian members of the European Parliament Tonino viagra canada Picula and Ruza Tomasic have notified the European Commission that Istrian prosciutto was granted protected status in Croatia in 2011 in accordance with EU standards, and that this is not the first time that Slovenia has challenged the origin of Croatian products.

Just as in the case of Prosek wine, which is challenged by Italy, and Teran, this is considered an attempt at eliminating competition from the common market through European institutions.

Is the Commission planning to take steps to prevent Croatia from being placed again in an unequal position in this way, Tomasic asked.

The Croatian Ministry of Agriculture said that Slovenia had made an objection to the Croatian application for an EU-wide protected designation of origin for Istrian prosciutto. If the Commission decides that the objection is unfounded, the protection procedure will continue, but if the objection is found to be well-founded, the process of negotiation between Slovenia and Croatia will followzorb ball.

According to the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, the gist of the objection is that a product under the name of Istrian prosciutto is still being produced in Slovenia, by the company Kras Sezana since 1996,  and the name Istrian prosciutto may threaten the sales of this product in the Croatian market.

Producers protect Jambon sec des Ardennes

The future of the PGI (protected geographical indication) for Jambon sec des Ardennes is taking form. An investor from Luxemburg has confirmed plans for creating a large-scale production facility in Vivier-au-Court, France.

The recent history of Ardennes dry cured ham, officially known as Jambon sec des Ardennes, has been riddled with difficulties. The renewed efforts to establish a PGI are sure to please connoisseurs of this product. Initial steps to create a regional brand to protect this dry cured ham were first taken in 1987, under the name Ardennes de France.

The first request for the creation of a PGI was made in June of 1999, despite the fact that there were only two producers that manufactured this product under the Ardennes de France regional brand in the 1990s. One of these manufacturers retired in 2000, leaving Maurice Roffidal as the sole producer. In November 2001, the Ardennes de France association obtained the PGI for jambon sec and noix de jambon sec des Ardennes (Ardennes ham and extra lean ham) and began looking for new producers but, unfortunately, was not successful. In 2003, when regional brands were abolished, the production of meat products carrying this label ended.

Restoring value to the product

At the end of 2008, the matter gained renewed attention when the managers of a Luxemburg-based company, took an interest in the dry cured ham produced in the French Ardennes. They realized that without swift action, the designation was at risk of disappearing. The compaby along with all of the regional operators in the sector, decided to reinitiate the PGI application procedure. Since the specifications from 1999 were no longer applicable, the producers in Ardennes, in collaboration with the Luxembourger compaby, decided to reformulate them, establishing new quality standards with the assistance of Maurice Roffidal, the “historic” Ardennes ham producer.

After three years of talks and discussions, the INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité) – the French national institute of origin and quality, formerly the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (National institute of designations of origin), the Ardennes de France brand and the producers obtained approval for the new specifications in January 2012.

The control plan was approved soon afterwards, in July 2012. “The procedure is rather lengthy” explained Didier Villemin, head of Aux Saveurs d’Ardennes, who worked in close collaboration with Frédéric Loriette, head of Haybes Salaisons. “We needed to redefine everything: the pigs used, the production region, the salting method, the drying time, the selection of a monitoring body, etc. All of these points required significant work and numerous revisions to attain the final approval, but PGI status is essential for protecting the designation and guaranteeing the quality of the product”.commercial cliff hanger slide

The partners hope to obtain PGI status by the end of 2014. In September, this year, the documents will be submitted to the European Commission, which should register the specifications by December of the following year. Producers are expecting that this designation will increase sales. Currently, the two producers in the region produce less than 2,000 hams per year each.

“This is a ridiculous quantity” Didier Villemin stated, adding that his company alone has the capacity to produce 35,000 hams per year. “We are expecting that the jambon sec and noix de jambon PGI labels will help to increase sales”.

From an article by Mirko Spasic for L’union-L’Ardennais, published 15/08/2013


Parma Ham Festival: 16th year, tastings, exhibitions, concerts and lots of fun

The Parma Ham Festival, now in its 16th year, will be in town and in generic cialis 5mg the whole province from 6th to 22nd September with many gastronomic and cultural events and lots of good music. There will therefore be an extra week to pay homage to a product of Italian agri-food excellence, recognized and prized all over the world as being synonymous with quality.

The 2013 Festival, coordinated once again by Fiere di Parma, takes on a different meaning because the Ducal Crown of Parma Ham is celebrating its 50th anniversary: 50 years of history that will also be celebrated during the festival with some initiatives that will once again help to promote and valorize Parma Ham. In particular, at the Portici del Grano, throughout the whole of September, Parma will host an exhibition made of images, documents and other materials to tell the story of all the families of the producers who have made Parma Ham famous and who continue to dedicate themselves to their work with the same passion of long ago.

What better occasion than the Festival to involve the catering sector of Parma and its province? 50 for Parma Ham is the activity that will have 50 restaurants creating dedicated menus based on Parma Ham and also playing with the number “50”. There will also be an on-line competition for restaurateurs and their customers.

One of the more traditional activities, Finestre Aperte (“Open Doors”), remains the attractive force of the festival. An extra week this year to see the production process and breathe the fragrances of the Parma Ham “cathedrals”. Tourists and enthusiasts can rely on a free bus shuttle service (for info: IAT Comune di Parma, tel. +39 0521 218889; turismo@comune.parma.it) that will take them to the production area.

Then the city centre will be animated by a ham shop that will allow all citizens and tourists to taste the sweet Parma Ham outdoors in the splendid surroundings of the historic centre. This year too, as usual, the Consortium will welcome a group of journalists from all over the world for a training tour to gain knowledge about Parma Ham and its territory.

The other municipalities involved will also develop specific initiatives for the Parma hills: sports activities, stands with local culinary excellences, tastings, the traditional slicing competition and plenty of music, such as for example the concert of Elio e le storie tese and Fedez in Langhirano or the concerts organized in Collecchio in Piazza Repubblica or the Concerti a Corte show, in Talignano di Sala Baganza.

Of the numerous excursions in contact with nature, we should mention the Salti del Diavolo (devil’s jumps), a spectacular sedimentary formation of huddled rock needles and walls on the way to Berceto; for culture, there is the Fondazione Magnani Rocca, in Mamiano di Traversetolo, the Romanesque parish church of San Biagio in Talignano and the Castello Pallavicino of Varano de’ Melegari.

Also not to be missed is a visit to the Museo del Prosciutto e dei Salumi di Parma (Parma Ham and Salami Museum), in the ancient Foro Boario of Langhirano, and also – throughout the whole area – Parma Ham tastings accompanied by the best wines.

The official inauguration of the 16th Festival, will take place on Friday, 6th September at 18:30 in Langhirano, in Piazza Ferrari, and will be preceded by a conference organized in the Teatro Aurora Cinema by the Fondazione Andrea Borri entitled Stelle, strisce e…fette (Stars, stripes and…slices). 1988-2013: 25 years of Parma Ham’s presence in the United States that will tell the story of Parma Ham’s arrival in the United States, thanks to the contribution of Andrea Borri.

The opening press conference will be held on Wednesday, 4th September in the Province at 10:30 where the programme of events will be presented.


This year too, the Parma Ham Festival will take place over the same days as the Camper Show scheduled at the Fiere di Parma from 14th to 22nd September where the Info Festival Point stand will be set up to provide information on the programme of initiatives of the Municipalities, “Finestre Aperte” and the bus shuttle service.

You can also follow the Festival on




A new PDO dry cured ham is coming: here it is the Corsican cured ham

The new entry among the rich family of PDO dry cured hams comes from Corsica: the application for Corsican cured ham, Jambon sec de Corse-prisuttu, to receive Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) quality status was announced in the Official Journal of the European Union (No. C80) on 19March 2013. The only PDO application for Nustrale pork products that now remains to be published is that of lonzu pork loin.

Corsica’s soil and climate provide a very favourable environment for forests, which form an important part of the country’s landscape. Chestnut and oak trees in particular are abundant all over the island.

Corsican charcuterie products have a long history and, together with dairy products, form one of the main sources of animal protein in the traditional island diet.

Current livestock farming methods have been handed down from an ancient pastoral tradition, which involved moving herds of pigs around in the forested pastoral lands in the mountains or in summer pastures (rangelands), depending on the forage resources in the area.

The Nustrale pig is an Iberian breed which is local to the region. It is a hardy animal, particularly suited to this type of farming and adept at using the natural resources that it can find. The sows lead the herds around the various types of rangelands, such as wooded areas and mountain pastures, adapting their routes to the changing seasons and the available forage resources in the area.

Corsican cured ham, Jambon sec de Corse-Prisuttu, has the following specific characteristics:

—  A specific elongated and flattened form. The hock is thin and elongated.

— The sliced surface shows a lean part which ranges in colour from red to deep red, depending on pigment levels in the muscles.

— The lean part is marbled because of its 6% minimum proportion of intramuscular fat.

— A high level of oleic acid gives the sliced surface an oily look.

— The sliced surface is soft and may even be very greasy, as a result of its high level of lipolysis.

— It has a rich, fruity aroma with a nutty or woody notes or hints of dried ham or mushroom. It tastes peppery and salty, owing to its high salt content of between 6.5 and 10%, and its high fat content gives it an almost sweet flavour.

The finishing process is carried out between October and March for a minimum of 45 days. During this period, the animals feed exclusively on acorns and chestnuts, for which they forage as they roam the finishing areas (oak and chestnut forests) for at least the first 30 days. After this point, their diet can be complemented with barley. Each pig is rationed to a maximum of 4kg per day. The daily rations of barley given by the farmer must not exceed 30% of the pig’s intake of chestnuts and/or acorns during the finishing period.

The salting, drying and maturing process lasts at least 12 months, including at least 4 months of maturing, which is the last stage of the creation of the product and is carried out exclusively in natural ambient conditions. This stage is essential, allowing the product to acquire its texture and develop its flavours.

The geographical area concerned includes certain towns in the départements (regions) of South Corsica and Upper Corsica, in addition to coastal towns.

How Charles packed his prize pigs off to Italy… and they came back as ham costing £80 per lb

He is notoriously picky about his food and where it comes from. No bad thing, some might say, given the developments of the past week.

And in his quest for perfection, Prince Charles has sent two of his rare breed pigs to Italy to be turned into some of the finest ham known to man, cured in a medieval cellar with the help of the fog from a nearby river.

Sending pork to be cured at a 14th-century Italian estate and smoked for more than two years is likely to be beyond most budgets – transport costs alone were probably around £700 – and may even be considered a little eccentric.

However, the venture certainly accords with Charles’s love of small scale and organic food production.

The Prince revealed details of his project on a visit to Borough Market on Thursday when he discovered that trader John Elliot of The Ham and Cheese Company shared the same supplier for their culatello di zibello, a type of cured ham unique to the Bassa Parmense region near Cremona. The Mail’s inquiries have revealed that around three years ago the Prince sent two rare breed pigs reared on Home Farm, his organic estate in Gloucestershire, to be turned into the delicacy. One a Tamworth and one a Large Black, they were slaughtered humanely in the UK before being dispatched to Europe.

Charles is patron of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, formed in 1973 to protect endangered livestock which were being abandoned in favour of more profitable breeds.

Tamworth, thought to be descended from wild boar, are one of the oldest breeds in the country, while the Large Black was popular in the early 1900s and is the only UK pig that’s entirely black.

The carcasses were taken to the picturesque estate of producer Massimo Spigaroli, on the banks of the River Po. He still uses a cellar built specifically for curing meats, which has just one small north-facing window to let in the river fog which prevents the meat from drying out too much.

The meat is hung to age for around 30 months. More than 1,000 different types of bacteria are encouraged to develop, helping to create a savoury and intensely aromatic flavour. Each ham sells for 300 euros – around £258 – to suppliers and retails for around £80 per lb in UK shops.

Mr Spigaroli confirmed yesterday that he had helped the Prince out by curing his pigs, using any leftovers to make salami and pancetta which he also sent back.

‘He heard about us when he was given one of our hams as a present. He was impressed so he wanted to know how it was made,’ he said.

‘He hasn’t so far been to our farm, but he invited my brother and I to his farm in Wales [another estate owned by the prince].

‘He was extremely hospitable and very curious about our methods. He sent over a pair of animals to our farm, as a test run.

‘He wrote us a letter personally to say he had eaten the hams and was very happy with them. We didn’t charge him. When you’re from a long line of peasant farmers like my brother and I, and you get asked to prepare a ham for a prince – it’s one of life’s great experiences.’

From:  www.dailymail.co.uk

How can a boneless, dry-cured, whole ham be preserved?

Dry-cured ham is a meat-based product made from salted leg of pork left to age over time to gain aroma and flavour. At the end of the aging process (more than 12 months), dry-cured ham is stable because it has an average humidity percentage of 61% (minimum 57%, maximum 63%), an average ratio between the percentage of sodium chloride and the humidity of 8.9% (minimum 7.8%, maximum 11.2%). Finally, it has an Aw value (Water Activity: water used by spoilage bacteria to grow) markedly lower than 0.90.

The dry-cured ham is sold whole with bone, whole boneless, in vacuum packed slices or sliced and packaged in an oxygen-free Controlled Atmosphere. The packaging prevents the product acquiring humidity from the environment, oxidising quickly on contact with oxygen or being contaminated with pathogenic micro-organisms of human or environmental origin, even though these are not able to grow on the ham.

The consumer, after buying ham in slices or whole boneless or receiving it as a gift, faces the problem of how to preserve it after opening the packaging. Indeed, often while being kept in the fridge, the unpackaged product decays, loses its “freshness” and the “initial aromatic quality” because it goes rancid, darkens or absorbs the odours in the fridge. The choice of preservation technique is problematic since there is no golden rule.  Various methods exist that are widely used by families; techniques sometimes recommended by experts in food production.  The best system is to repackage the product under vacuum every time part is sliced off. This method, however, is almost impossible to achieve in the home unless the family owns a packaging machine. Some experts recommend wrapping the product in a slightly damp cloth and placing it in the fridge. Others and, in my opinion, they are absolutely right, recommend wrapping the part of the muscle that has been sliced with foil or, even better, plastic film.  In this way, excessive surface humidity that could produce a high degree of “blooming” or the appearance of salts and amino acids (tyrosine etc.) is avoided. Furthermore, this simple method prevents the ham’s surface darkening and becoming impregnated with odours from the fridge itself. Finally, the sliced ham can also be kept in the fridge without any packaging. If, however, consumption takes place too slowly, a greasy film may be seen due to a mixture of water, salt and fat. This film must be removed with the first slice and then the rest will be edible and acceptable. It’s then best to place it in a pantry at room temperature (maximum 18°C) in a dry environment. The ham will remain stable: at most, a slight superficial dehydration will be noted; this dehydration will not influence the quality of the product. A dry environment and a maximum temperature of 18 °C will prevent the formation of greasy films connected to the fat and the humidity condensing on the product.


Prof. Giuseppe Comi


Omelette rolls with Jamón de Huelva and mozzarella

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
8 slices of Jamón de Huelva
4 eggs
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
5 thin slices of mozzarella
butter, salt

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a pinch of salt.
Place a large non-stick pan on the heat and grease it with a knob of butter. When
it starts sizzling, add the eggs and cook the omelette without stirring it, turning
it just once. Place it on a sheet of baking paper and allow it to cool. Cover a
sufficiently large plate with some cling film and then place the omelette on top of
it. Spread two tablespoons of mayonnaise over the entire surface of the omelette,
followed by the well-drained mozzarella, the whole slices of Jamón de Huelva
and another layer of mayonnaise.
Roll up the omelette with the help of the film, then wrap it in the film, twisting the
ends like a sweet, and place it in the fridge for three hours. After three hours,
slice the roll with a sharp knife and serve.

Green asparagus gratin with Jambon de Bosses and Sardinian Pecorino cheese

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

8 slices of Jambon de Bosses
500 g green asparagus
100 g aged Sardinian Pecorino cheese
100 g stale wholemeal bread
extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper

Wash the asparagus, remove the ends and peal them only if necessary. Parboil
them in salted water for 5-8 minutes, then drain them and leave them to cool

In the meantime, cut the slices of Jambon de Bosses in half. Grate the
Sardinian Pecorino and the wholemeal bread, using a grater with large
holes in both cases. Heat four tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan and brown the

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Arrange the gratin in a serving dish: grease the base
with a drizzle of oil, arrange the asparagus, the Jambon de Bosses, the Pecorino
and the breadcrumbs.

Cook for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Cream of cannellini beans with Prosciutto Toscano and sesame breadsticks

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

8 slices of Prosciutto Toscano

500 g boiled cannellini beans

2 potatoes

1 white onion

½ litre vegetable stock

150 ml white wine

12 sesame breadsticks

1 sprig of rosemary

4 sage leaves

extra virgin olive oil

salt, pepper, chilli

Slice the onion and fry it until soft in a high-sided saucepan with 5 tablespoons of oil.Add the diced potatoes and cannellini beans.Cook for a few minutes, then add the white wine.Pour in the stock and add the rosemary and sage.Cover and cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes.Add four slices of chopped Prosciutto Toscano before removing from the heat.Remove the herbs, then liquidise it using a handheld liquidiser.Season with salt and serve with pepper and chilli to sprinkle on top, accompanied by the bread sticks wrapped in the remaining slices of Prosciutto Toscano.