Jamón de Trevélez.
What makes "Jamón de Trevélez" so special?
The special climate in Trevélez and surrounding Alpujarra villages is the reason why the people dry hams in the Alpujarras for ages. The cold en dry mountain air makes it possible to hang the fresh hams in the "secadero" in winter and spring without losing quality. By late spring, early summer, when temperatures rise, the ham has yet a well dried outside that protect the meat inside. This unique mountain climate makes it possible to dry the hams without preservatives, and without man made climate steering. The next fotos give you an impression how the process of Trevélez ham drying goes.
The fresh hams go into a refrigerator covered with sea-salt. The hams, all approximately the same weight, stay in there one day per kilogram ham. So the most common fresh hams of about 13 kg stay in the salt for only 13 days. Halfway this period they turn the top ones for the bottom ones so they get all the same amount of pressure and salt.
The first drying:
The fresh salted hams are pushed into a same shape, The flesh side gets a good rub with pork fat. This protect the fresh meat. After that the hams go in a temperature controlled area for a couple of weeks.
The curing or "curatión":
The hams move to the "secadero". In this area the Alpujarra climate does the "curatión" or curing. This is the slow drying process where the ham loses about 30% of it's original weight. Depending the weight of the fresh ham the "curatión" varies from 12 to 36 months. The most produced hams dry for about 20 months, and weight after the drying between 8 and 9 kilograms.
with the stamps on the skin of the ham, the "secadero" knows when the perfect time to sell the ham has arrived. The ham get tested, with a piercer of pig-bone, they pierce the ham on two different spots and with an experienced nose they can tell if the ham is well cured. The ham get labeled.
Thousands of people come to visit the Alpujarras every year. Especially the Spanish visitors can't leave the area without a ham of the Alpujarras. So most of the "secaderos" have a shop where you can buy ham and other cured meat. The best way to buy a ham to take abroad is to choose a complete one and let it debone. So you get 4-6 pieces of vacuum packed ham that you can safely take home. The pieces of ham you don't cut you can keep in the freezer till you want to open them. Leave the unpacked ham defrost and rest for a day or two and enjoy this marvelous product long after your trip to "Las Alpujarras".
Thanks to José Antonio to give me the information for this article.