Now that International Sherry Week has begun a lot of Ibérico ham will be enjoyed at events, so here is the latest on the ham situation. The “montanera,” a period of four months between October and February when the acorns (bellotas) ripen, has just begun and the pigs are released into the grassland and forest to wander freely and stuff their faces. During this time they nearly double their weight, and it has been a good autumn so far with more rain than usual so there is plenty for them to eat.
The last few years have not been kind to the industry with the economic crisis reducing demand and prices, but things are looking up now. At least they were until the recent pronouncement from the World Health Organisation which has worried many producers, who have always striven to make an extremely healthy product. They refer to the Ibérico pig as an “olive on legs,” and like Sherry many hams have a Denominación de Origen which guarantees quality. There is a new system “Itaca” which follows each pig from birth to sacrifice guaranteeing traceability, so you can safely ignore the WHO and enjoy Jamón Ibérico, the perfect partner for a glass of Sherry.