A Spanish ham has been internationally recognized as the best in the world. It sold only 80 pieces per year to the nice price of 4,100 euros apiece.
The award took place at Biofac in Nuremberg (Germany), Europe’s largest trade fair for organic production. The ham is made from the extremely rare speckled pig Iberian Jabugo “Manchado de Jabugo“. There are just over 100 individuals left of this breed, and they are considered highly endangered.
The variegated breed is the original Iberian pig, but succumbed to swineflu and industrialization. Only some farmers kept a few individs for their own use and sold the more familiar varieties. Of these other variants however, there are 22,559 registered in the Huelva registry Jamón de Huelva. The reason farmers do not use these spotted pigs is that they grow slowly and that they lack the pigment that makes the hooves black and that has been the hallmark of Iberian ham (Pata Negra).
The breeder behind the hams is 67 years old Eduardo Donato. Eduardo is originally from Catalonia, but has been living in Huelva during the last 26 years. He explains to the spanish newspaper El Pais that he rejects the term “most expensive” (as it actually is), but he prefers to call the ham the “most valuable” in the world, as when it ends up on the customer’s plate, it is the result of ” patience, passion and joy. ”
These spotted pigs are being bred up strictly organic. They roam freely between rapids and waterfalls in an oak forest where they eat acorns and graze freely. It takes about three years for them to achieve optimal size, in contrast to the usual Pata Negra that achieves the same weight in between 14 and 18 months.
After the pig has been slaughtered the ham is being stored in a cellar for six years to mature. It takes almost a decade before he gets any revenue from the product. But Eduardo think it is a pleasure to see the animals grow. He likes to sit by the waterfalls to watch the animals as they are swimming.