Regulations and the Quality of Serrano Ham
Serrano ham is one of Spain's most widely-eaten foods and the product that most clearly announces the country's national cuisine on the world stage. In themselves these are already good reasons to protect the market and ensure the quality of Serrano ham.
But because everyone associates the name with quality, there are always those willing to misuse it, unscrupulous producers trading on the implications of a name they have no right to use to seal an inferior product. Consumers have a right to be protected from this.
With these issues in mind, in 1992 the European Union created a system to monitor and certify the most important agricultural and food products from member countries. They created several labels that would identify products that had been produced and processed according to strict regulations to ensure quality and make sure that products being sold as the results of traditional processes really were what they said they were.
The name of Serrano ham is one of the products that is protected by these regulations, being recognized under the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) scheme since 1998. This certification does not protect the origin of products as a DOP designation does but it does require certain techniques of rearing, production and processing. Any Serrano ham you see has to comply with these rules.
The regulations state that Spanish ham should be drawn from the hind legs of pigs only - meat from their forelegs is called "shoulder" - and should follow a set of guidelines concerning slaughter and butchering practices.
Pork should have a traceable provenance and the feeding regime should be wild pasture and grain. Weights, times of breedings and a minimum pre-slaughter fattening period are also stipulated. If a ham is to be labelled Serrano ham, it must also comply with regulations on its curing environment.
These regulations, decreed in 1998 by the Ministry of Agriculture, establish strict quality standards for Serrano ham. For example, a ham must weigh no less than 9.2kg, the thickness of its outer layer of fat must not exceed 0.8cm and the curing period must be no less than 210 days in a low-humidity environment.
Once the drying and curing process is complete the Spanish ham is ready for consumption, but rules apply here too. Serrano ham must present a pinky-violet appearances, neither too dark nor too light, and bright fat and a juicy texture. Quality hams don't require much salt so a delicate flavor with relatively little salt is also a mark of quality.
To ensure that the legislation is effective, producers must keep documentation that tracks pigs from birth through to retail, and only after being checked and audited by the authorities is the coveted TSG certification given, guaranteeing the quality of Serrano ham.
However, in addition to the TSG mark there is another scheme that guarantees the quality of ham to an even higher standard. This is the Protected Denomination of Origin (DOP) scheme, which in the case of Serrano ham requires that the ham come from either the Trévelez or the Teruel regions.
There is currently a campaign underway to put some Spanish hams under the Protected Geographic Origin (IGP) umbrella, particularly the famous Seron ham. Finally, an ecological label is awarded to hams produced in a way that is environmentally caring and fed a special, strictly-controlled ecological diet.
All these schemes have one thing in common: they all seek to protect producers of Serrano ham from unfair competition and to make sure consumers have honest information about what they're buying. That way,when you see the name Serrano ham, you know exactly what it is!
All about ham
- 1 Types of Iberico Ham
- 2 How to Consume Iberico Ham
- 3 How to Cut Iberico Ham | Carve Iberico Ham
- 4 How to Preserve and Store Iberico Ham
- 5 Pairing of Iberico Ham
- 6 Quality Laws for Iberico Ham | The New Law 2014
- 7 The Dehesa | The Meadow
- 8 DOP Protected Source of Origin of Iberico Ham
- 9 Nutritional Properties of Acorn-fed Iberico Ham
- 10 Recipes with Spanish Ham
- 11 Differences Between Iberico Ham and Serrano Ham
- 12 Differences Between Shoulder and Iberico ham
- 13 Differences Between Iberico Ham and Iberico Shoulder
- 14 Iberico Ham and its Competitors Around the World
- 15 Nutritional Properties of Iberico Ham
- 16 Protected Denominations of Origin of Iberico Ham
- 17 Production Areas of Spanish Ham and Iberico Ham
- 18 Spanish Ham - Machine cut or Hand cut
- 19 Museums of Iberico Ham Worldwide
- 20 Inside Secrets of Iberico Ham Tasting
- 21 Tourist Trails for Iberico Ham Aficionados
- 22 Acorn-fed Iberico ham and the ideal pairing
- 23 The Production Process of Iberico Sausages
- 24 History of Iberico Sausages
- 25 VAT and Spanish Ham: Frequently Asked Questions
- 26 Spanish Ham in Great Spanish Literature
- 27 Curiosities of Iberico ham
- 28 How to Store Your Serrano Ham
- 29 Regulations and the Quality of Serrano Ham
- 30 Preparation of Serrano Ham
- 31 Denomination of Origin of Serrano Ham
- 32 Nutritional Properties of Serrano Ham
- 33 Recipes With Serrano Ham
- 34 Types of Serrano Ham
- 35 Pairing of Serrano Ham
- 36 How to Consume Serrano Ham
- 37 How to Cut Serrano Ham | Carve Serrano Ham
- 38 All the Secrets of Pata Negra Ham Tasting
- 39 Choosing a Good Ham Holder
- 40 What is the best para negra ham?
- 41 Is the term pata negra correct?
- 42 Pata Negra Ham and Pasture
- 43 The secrets of pairing pata negra ham
- 44 How can you know which ham to buy?
- 45 Why is good ham so expensive?
- 46 How to buy ham from online stores
- 47 Myths and Truths, Benefits and Prejudices of Ham
- 48 Is Iberian ham fattening?
- 49 What to do with the ham bone?
- 50 Why do we usually hang ham?
- 51 Ham and Pregnancy: Can Iberian ham be included in pregnant women's diets?
- 52 The Role of Ham in a Child's Growth and Develeopment
- 53 Tips for Preserving Ham
- 54 What is ham shaping and why is it done?
- 55 New Technologies and Ham - MRI in Ham Tasting - Spectral Images
- 56 The Iberian Pig Begins to Migrate
- 57 Cured Sausages: Origin, Composition and Classification
- 58 Production of Hams and Pork Shoulder Hams
- 59 Iberian Ham Tasting Guide
- 60 Quality: Differential Elements Between Ham and Iberico Cured Meats
- 61 The Map of Ham in Spain
- 62 Properties of the Fat in Iberian Ham
- 63 How to Transport Iberian Ham and Other Foods on International Flights
- 64 Prevalence of Pathogens and Benefits of Organic Acids in Pig Production