Discover all the differences between our two star products, so you don’t have any doubts when making your choice.
If Shakespeare had loved acorn-fed Iberian Ham he would have understood why the concern to discover the true meaning of life is at the same level as knowing the difference between a good Iberian ham and an Iberian shoulder ham. Below you will find the differences between these two magnificent products and we will transfer the mythical “to be or not to be”, so you will finally find the answer to the quintessential question when purchasing ham: Ham or shoulder? That is the question.
Indeed, we tend to speak of ham in general terms. This shouldn’t create any problems, save for the detail that this tends to obscure the true nature of the piece, knowing that the term “ham” enjoys better appreciation among buyers. To be specific, in Cervantes’s language,“ham” is the piece that refers exclusively to the hind limbs of the pig; also known as leg or thigh. On the other hand, we should use the terms shoulder when we refer to the front legs.
Thus, we can find both hams and shoulders from the same animal, and this would still have significant differences in terms of favour and price. The latter is not insignificant, since an Iberian shoulder may be marketed at approximately €34 per kilo, while ham from the same animal could even reach €400.
Considered as the prime part of the Iberian pig, hams have a larger, wider and longer shape than the shoulders. This is thanks to the skeletal build of the animal itself, which will also allow us to graft larger slices when cutting the piece and make a better use of the ham.
As regards to the shoulders, these are quickly distinguished from hams due to their smaller size and the presence of the shoulder blade that covers a large section of the piece. These skeletal differences result in the need to be more experienced as a cutter to make the most of the shoulder and carve good slices. Consequently, shoulders are not as attractive as hams, although this preference is not due to the quality of the meat.
Therefore the differences in size and shape between hams and shoulder hams, will also influence the way these pieces are salted and cured. This doesn’t imply that they will undergo different processes, but that the process will be adapted to each case. Due to their larger size, hams will undergo a longer process, never less than three years. Additionally, as they have a smaller amount of external fat, this will change their aroma and flavour, providing them with rich and varied contrasts in the palate.
Following these same curing and salting processes, shoulder hams will require a shorter curing period, with a minimum of 2 years. This will result in smaller contrasts in terms of aroma, however, the meat tends to be more flavourful than ham. Therefore, either if you choose the flavour of one or the other, if they are truly acorn-fed Iberian pieces, you won’t regret it. In both cases you will be picking an excellent product.
Once you are aware of all the differences between shoulder ham and ham, you are ready to choose one. There’s something you should always keep in mind, which is something people tend to forget, it’s best to purchase a top-quality shoulder ham than a mediocre ham. Not only for their flavour, but also for your health. It has been proven that acorn-fed Iberian ham has many health benefits when compared to feed-fed pigs. Thanks to their freedom, their diet and our traditional drying and curing processes, Iberian acorn-fed pigs make a healthier option.