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Great hams from little acorns

Before lockdown I was invited to Jabugo, just across the border in northern Andalucía, to visit the curing cellars of Cinco Jotas (5J), Spain's leading producer of jamón ibérico de bellota. The free-range, acorn-fed ham comes from the countryside that surrounds us, known as the dehesa, and it's considered the world's finest. I was thrilled to discover that our own finca plays a small part in producing this glorious delicacy. Every autumn our neighbour Antonio grazes his pata negra pigs on the acorns that fall from the oak trees dotted across our fields. He has many hectares of his own, but the pigs' appetite during the acorn season is so great that he always needs more to supplement their diet. By law, the pedigree pigs must eat only acorns and grass during their last sixty days. Once fully grown, Antonio sells them to Cinco Jotas, Spain's most exacting buyer. Here's a piece I've done for the Mail on Sunday describing the process of producing first rate jamón, and a slideshow of photos from my trip to Jabugo (click arrow on right).

Photos by Peter Barron, except pictures of pigs courtesy of 5J.


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