Curing of the ham
The hams from the slaughtered pigs are salted and left to begin drying for two weeks, after which they are rinsed and left to dry for another four to six weeks. The curing process then takes at least nine months, although some producers cure their jamones ibericos from 18 to 30 months from start to finish, including cutting, salting, washing, drying and maturation. Depending on the weight of the ham the curing time may be longer. For shoulder cuts, which are smaller, the curing process lasts between 10 and 18 months, although larger pieces may take longer.
Salting of Jabugo hams is done with sea salt. Hams then undergo a natural drying and maturation process in a bodega for a total of almost 3 years, after which they are tested.
Legend has it that hams were created when a pig one day fell into a gully with very salty water, and drowned. Shepherds found the pig and roasted it, discovering that the meat – particularly the hind leg – had a pleasant flavor. Later they discovered that when the hind leg was salted it lasted longer without losing its flavor, and the method was thereafter perfected.