If you’ve ever had the privilege to order Iberico pork, you may definitely be wondering, “Why is Iberico ham so expensive?”
Iberico pork is unlike any other type of ham because of its exceptional flavor and tenderness.
The marbled pattern and optimal fat content make for an exceptionally tender and easy-to-eat cut of meat.
When it is so delicious, how can anyone resist eating it? Because of the price tag! But, why is Spanish Iberico cured ham so expensive?
It is expensive because it comes from the special Black Iberico pigs and has a distinct flavor that separates it from white pig breeds.
Why Is Iberico Ham So Expensive Everywhere?
The Iberico ham is expensive mainly because it comes from black Iberico pigs that are hard to farm and produce less meat.
And it comes from Spain, which adds to its uniqueness.
Because of its deep cultural significance, do not be surprised if you notice vegetarians occasionally indulge in a slice of ham.
Even if you try, you probably will not be able to avoid it in Spanish cuisine.
It is because it enhances the flavor of everything from a baked potato to a fried egg to fresh artichokes/porra soup.
Fact: Research shows acorn-fed Iberico ham may help lower bad cholesterol and improve your level of good cholesterol.
Why Does Iberico Pork Come with a Big Price Tag?
The high price tag of Iberico ham could be due to many different factors.
Rare Breeding Environment
The high price tag is at least partially attributable to the rarity of the pigs, which can only be found in a small geographical area.
Because of this, the cost of meat in many nations is inflated.
The high cost of Iberico pork originates from the care and attention lavished on the pigs throughout their lives and the diet they are fed.
In most cases, farmers have to spend a lot of time taking care of these pigs and continue to feed them for at least two seasons before they mature.
There are various pig breeds around the world, but pigs adapted to the Iberian Peninsula do particularly well.
Thanks to their unusual anatomy, their high-fat content ensures that the meat is soft and juicy even after prolonged cooking.
There are many different cuts of Iberico Pork available.
Jamon Iberico looks more like beef than pig; however, many people say the flavor is a cross between pork and beef.
But, it certainly makes it even more versatile when used in cooking.
Fact: Iberico ham packs a solid protein punch and is likely to help reduce fatigue in athletes by supporting muscle mass.
How Expensive is Iberico Ham Anyway?
Jamon Iberico de bellota, Iberico pork, or acorn-fed Iberico ham, is a Spanish specialty that has a hefty price tag due to its reputation as the world’s finest.
Iberico pigs, a rare breed mostly raised in Spain, are the source of the ham.
It can cost as much as $4,500 for just one leg that weighs 13–17 lbs.
For $1,400, you may get your hands on the priciest ham sold in the United States.
The interesting thing is that even though it is expensive, it is widely appreciated and used all over the world.
Does Iberico Ham Become More Expensive Based on Cuts?
Yes, that is certainly the case!
You might expect to pay more or less depending on the cut of meat you purchase.
Iberico Pluma, which comes from the lower part of the loin, is considered the most expensive because it is also the juiciest and tenderest cut.
Fact: Iberico ham is a good source of Tryptophan and is likely to help people dealing with stress and anxiety.
How Is Iberico Ham Classified?
Iberico hams are classified into different categories and the price changes with a change in the classification.
The First Class
Some Iberico pigs have been better cared for than others in terms of diet.
Those raised exclusively on acorns will be certified as authentic Iberico.
Because of their dark hoofs, they are sometimes referred to as Pata Negra.
As the cream of the crop, this will inevitably cost more than the alternatives.
The Second Class
Jamon Iberico de Bellota is the second highest quality of Iberico ham.
In the same vein as the Black Iberian Pig, these pigs subsist exclusively on acorns.
But as a result of a genetic admixture with common pigs, they are not technically considered Black Iberian Pigs
The Third Class
Those pigs in this category feed on grain and acorns.
Sometimes referred to as green-label pigs, they are not as expensive as other types of Iberico ham.
Other than these, you may also find white-label black pigs, which are considered the lowest quality.
It is mainly because they are not raised outdoors and survive on grain only.
A Thing to Remember
Always inquire about the origin and label of the pigs and ham from the seller or the butcher.
You can use this information to judge whether or not the prices they charge are reasonable.
Is Iberico Ham More Expensive than Serrano Ham?
If you are a true connoisseur of Spanish ham, you should be able to determine just by looking at it if it is nice ham.
Nonetheless, you may be unsure if you are dealing with Serrano or Iberico ham.
You have to understand how to differentiate between them because they have different price tags.
You would not want to pay a lot of money for serrano ham thinking you are buying Iberico ham.
Differentiating between Iberico and Serrano Ham
There are two top tiers when it comes to Spanish ham: those made from Iberico pigs and those made from acorn-fed hogs.
As compared to Serrano, which is a white-pig breed, black Iberico hogs are descended from Mediterranean wild boar.
Their meat is different because they are vigorous animals and because of their fat content, they leave you with juicier meat.
Variations in Color and Smell
When it comes to aroma, there is no denying the distinctiveness of Iberico ham.
There is also a noticeable variation in color: Serrano is often a pinkish tone while Iberico ham is a rich vivid crimson.
Variations in Prices
The price tag on an Iberico pig will leave you feeling empty.
However, many ham producers in Spain crossed them with other kinds because of their small litter sizes, lower meat yields per head, and longer maturation times.
Until recently, ham prepared from pigs with as little as 50% Iberian heritage could be sold as Jamon Iberico.
However, new regulations require Iberico ham to be branded according to the percentage of the piglets’ Iberian lineage.
Fact: Thanks to its high iron content, Iberico ham prevents anemia and improves endurance levels.
Is Iberico Ham Expensive Due to Its Health Benefits?
It may well be a reason too.
Iberian ham comes from Iberian pigs raised only in the meadows of Portugal and Spain.
Acorn-fed Iberian ham is a delicious and unique gourmet item.
And it is also a very nutritious and versatile staple that can be incorporated into almost any eating plan.
Will Iberico Ham Make You Fat?
The prevalent belief that Iberian Ham will make you fat is unfounded if you eat it in moderation.
Because acorns, like olive trees, are a natural source of oleic acid, the fat of Iberian pigs bred in Montanera contains a high level of oleic acid (about 55-65%).
It means the fat you get from Iberico ham is mono-unsaturated, which improves your cardiovascular health by supporting your arteries and blood vessels.
Is Iberico Ham a Good Source of Protein?
Yes, you can find high-quality proteins and other nutrients and vitamins necessary for human health in abundance in Iberian ham.
Consuming a small amount of acorn-fed Iberian ham on a regular basis is a great way to get plenty of protein while maintaining a healthy weight.
With 34 grams of protein per 100 grams, this meat is a great alternative to other, less healthy red meats for those looking to bulk up.
Even though you love Iberico ham, it is still natural to ask, “Why is Iberico ham so expensive?”
Well, the biggest reason is its quality and the fact that it only comes from Spain and Portugal.
Moreover, it is extremely nutritious and offers so many health benefits, which easily puts serrano ham to shame.
So just be sure to check you are getting 100% authentic Iberico ham to justify its hefty price tag.