The population of Guijuelo is about 10,000 inhabitants. This place is the seat of the Council of the Designation of Origin, which is host to most manufacturers in this sector. It was founded over 20 years ago and is a full reference in the field of ham. It´s located in the southeast of the province of Salamanca.
The raw material used in the production process, Iberian breed pigs, come from different pastures of Spain: Salamanca, Extremadura, Córdoba, Huelva, Sevilla and Castilla-La Mancha, but the development and curing of the product is made exclusively in Guijuelo.The microclimate of the area is essential for this.
The town of Guijuelo is situated at an altitude of more than a thousand meters above sea level. The microclimate of this region is characterized by cold winters and dry, mild and short summers, that enable a totally natural process of drying and maturing of hams.
This villa has been producing hams from the times of the Middle Ages along with other traditional activities which are no longer represented locally as leather, footwear and soap. In recent times the industry growth has experienced unprecedented growth, demonstrating the sheer quality of their products and the high acceptance they have in the market. Part of this success is due to the efforts of associations and local authorities to promote and support this industry.
This designation provides a set of standards for livestock producers. Livestock should be of the Iberian pig breed or cross of 75% Iberian blood and 25% Duroc-Jersey.
A series of classes of ham is established according to animal feed :
Designation of Origin Guijuelo: All hams have passed a series of checks that exceed established parameters of fatty acids and are reviewed annually.
They identify with a seal and a band, red in the case of a Acorn fed iberian Ham, and green in the case of a Iberian ham.
These hams are guaranteed from birth, since the D.O. Guijuelo controlls the pig`s raising and the development of later products.
Iberian Acorn fed Ham: It's the best quality. Pigs reared in freedom all have eaten feed, mulch and grass up to 80 Kg When starting the era of open range (from fall to late winter) the pigs are fed exclusively on acorns and grass reaching 160 -- 180 Kg.
It´s identified by an unbreakable red tape and a band of silver reserves, which also indicates the year to which it belongs.
Iberian Ham: In this case the pigs eat the same way as above until 80 kg, but to get to the 160-180 kg, were supplementing the diet above with fodder authorized by the regulatory boards. Seal is identified by a numbered green tape.
The Control Board covers the entire production process, from the farms (breed, breeding, rearing, fattening or open range) until cured. After slaughter in a slaughterhouse registered in the Control Board, the cuts are marked with an indelible stamp consisting of two letters identifying the batch.
Genuine Iberian ham pig is slaughtered after root up at will in the open range and the hams undergo complete chromatographic testing. The result of this analysis is for provisional grade: numbered red seal in the case of Iberian Acorn fed hams and Foreleg ham, and green for Iberian hams.
The characteristics of hams and the Designation of Origin Guijuelo are:
The cut features a bright red, because they are free-range animals of advanced age (18 months), which results in a very juicy and tender ham. It offer´s the aroma and intense and persistent flavor, due to the prolonged period of maturation. Another feature of ham Guijuelo is its low salt content, since the optimal weather conditions in the area reduce the salting period .