A little over an hour North West of the charming Spanish city of Sevielle, lies Jabugo a town and municipality located in the province of Huelva, Spain with a population of just 2,475 inhabitants. Within this town some of the world’s finest and specially made 100% Iberico ham is produced in the tradition of secrets passed down through generations. Founded in 1879, Cinco Jotas has become a premium gourmet brand of acorn-fed Ibérico ham raised free range in the woodlands of Jabugo.
The majority of breeders who work with Iberian pigs use mixed-breed animals, this is due to the fact that mixed-breed pigs are larger and will produce a higher yield. However, the flavors and aromas suffer and greatly differ from Cinco Jotas‘ 100% Iberian pigs. Cinco Jotas only choses purebred Iberian pigs and relies on an extended team of biologists, scientists, veterinarians, and experts who are dedicated exclusively to the study, care and control of the Iberian pigs.
The brand holds property in partnership with local farmers who raise the purebred Iberian-native pigs, who are given two football field sized feeding areas a piece in the lush Mediterranean forest. Vegetation that consists of herbs, wild rose, berries, shrubs of blackthorn, hawthorn, and most importantly acorns. In addition to producing higher quality ham, the fat content becomes healthy fat, which can is comparable to the properties of olive oil. This is why the ham seems to melt in your mouth when consumed.
According to Cinco Jotas, “The ancestral traditions of four generations of experts have helped create a product that respects the local culture and the artisanal process. Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the Jabugo natural parks offer abundant rains, mild climate and Atlantic breezes to make the perfect location to obtain what many call the best ham in the world.”
Sold in over 35 countries, Cinco Jotas has distinguished itself as the leader in terms of global sales in the 100% Ibérico luxury ham market in Spain. Raising the pigs correctly is only half of the process of producing this fine ham, the next step comes with curing the meat. And Cinco Jotas stays true to the tradition of curing the meat by hand in the ways of their ancestors.
The process of curing is cleverly uses the benefits of salt to preserve meat. Curing ham used to be the best way to preserve pork before there was reliable refrigeration. Curing and smoking pulls the moisture from the ham to make it safe to store at room temperature. Today, this process is used to give the ham exceptional flavor and color. Additionally, the use of salt in curing will dehydrate the meat enough the prevent bacteria from thriving. Curing is also an excellent way to preserve the natural flavors of the meat as well as to keep essential vitamins and minerals that are often lost in the freezer.
Cinco Jotas is best eaten alone, due to its exceptional flavor and price, however there are many recipes available that compliment the premium ham using authentic Spanish ingredients.In the United States a shoulder of Cinco Jotas ham will set you back nearly $1900 and a small box of sliced ham can cost you around $200, but trust me it’ worth it!
If the price of this premium ham is a little steep for you, schedule a visit and set up a tasting while taking in beautiful Jabugo. There are plenty of places to stay like the newly remodeled beautiful Hotel Convento Aracena & Spa, which used to be a female monastery. Visit the Gruta de las Maravillas caves in Aracena, stroll the ancient town, hit up the spa, and visit Cinco Jotas were you will enjoy some of the finest ham in the world.
By Mosaka Williamson
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