Thanks to the dry, fresh air of the Spanish mountains and the varied and ever changing seasons, the Spanish Sierra offers a unique and natural environment that is perfect for curing meats in a traditional method, which involves washing and salting hams and hanging them in wooden secadero (drying barns). It is a method that is still practiced today by many of Spain's regional farmers.
Dry curing results in Spanish hams having almost three times less salt than alternative curing processes. This also ensures that the hams have significantly less moisture content than North American hams, for example.
Once salted, hams are stored for periods of up to 5 years in cool drying chambers known as bodegas. There they experience the changes of the seasons, and through this heating and cooling cycle they lose up to 40% of their weight. Once they are fully cured, each one is tested by a catador for taste and aroma before they are released for sale or consumption.
This long process allows the Spanish ham to take on a unique and superior, smooth mature flavor that is held in very high esteem by meat lovers everywhere.