History of Jamón Ibérico


Jamón, a type of dry-cured ham from Spain, boasts a rich history deeply embedded in Spanish culture. This delectable delicacy is not just a culinary treat but a symbol of Spain’s agricultural traditions, geography, and heritage.

Ancient Origins

Roman Influence: The practice of curing ham dates back to ancient times, with the Romans playing a significant role in its development. They perfected methods of salting and drying meat, which laid the foundation for the production of cured hams in Spain. Evidence suggests that the Romans were consuming and trading cured hams as early as the 2nd century BC.
Iberian Pigs: The Iberian Peninsula, which includes modern-day Spain and Portugal, is home to the Iberian pig. This breed, known for its acorn diet and distinct flavor, has been a staple since prehistoric times. 

Middle Ages

Moorish Influence: During the Moorish occupation of Spain (711-1492), pork consumption declined due to Islamic dietary laws. However, the production of jamón persisted in Christian areas and saw a resurgence after the Reconquista.
Monasteries: Christian monasteries played a crucial role in preserving and perfecting ham-curing techniques during the Middle Ages. Monks meticulously documented curing processes, contributing to the refinement of jamón production.

Renaissance to Modern Era

Royal Endorsement: By the Renaissance, jamón had become a delicacy enjoyed by the Spanish royalty and aristocracy. It was often featured in royal banquets and became a symbol of status.
Technological Advancements: The 19th and 20th centuries saw significant advancements in the methods of curing ham, with improved salting, drying, and aging techniques. The development of controlled environments for drying and aging allowed for more consistent and higher-quality production.

Types of Jamón

Jamón Serrano: This type is made from white pigs and cured in mountain regions (sierra), giving it its name. It undergoes a curing process that typically lasts from 7 to 16 months.
Jamón Ibérico: Made from the Iberian pig, this type is highly prized and often considered superior due to its unique flavor. The curing process for Jamón Ibérico can last from 24 to 36 months, with some premium varieties, like Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, undergoing even longer aging periods. The pigs are often fed a diet of acorns, which imparts a distinctive nutty flavor to the meat.

Cultural Significance

Festivals and Celebrations: Jamón is not just a food item but an integral part of Spanish culture and festivities. Various regions in Spain host festivals celebrating jamón, where locals and tourists alike can taste different varieties and learn about its production.
Culinary Art: Slicing jamón is considered an art form, with professional cortadores (ham slicers) trained to carve thin, delicate slices that enhance the flavor and texture of the ham.


The history of jamón is a testament to Spain’s rich culinary heritage and the deep connection between its people and the land. From ancient Roman techniques to modern-day gourmet delicacies, jamón has evolved into a symbol of Spanish culture, enjoyed and revered both locally and globally.


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