Iberian Ham by all the senses
The pleasure it provides a ham is a function of the sensations it produces, which are very difficult to separate from each other and which are perceived by different senses.
Some are so linked together, as with the taste and smell, it has been necessary to create the concept of flavor, but when it fails any of the sensations, but the others are at very high levels, product quality is considered deficient.
The most important differential factor in the quality of Iberian ham, compared with those who are not, affects the ability of the race of fat infiltrating intramuscular spaces.
View: The exterior
It’s the first thing you notice. Elongated, dark claw, narrow distal bones (in the mixed breeds are thicker), broken skin in a “V”, more or less abundant hairs and fungal growth that will provide a variable color between white, black and purple, contrasting with the ocher of fat. This description does not make the Iberian ham appetizing, and is kind to many people, especially foreigners, they value a plate of ham are reluctant to buy a whole piece.
The weight of the ham is also important and is related to the weight of the animal when sacrificed, therefore, generally, the hams are preferred because they indicate that larger muscle is more developed.
According to the point where you have made the cut at the jam, the look has its own characteristics, marked by the shape of the muscles of the different regions:
The MAZA (HUB) is the part of the leg of Iberico ham that has greater amounts of meat, is considered the richest too, since there is extracted the meat more flavorful, tender and juicy. Normally provides a greater degree of infiltration of fat. It is a very appreciated sensory and offers quite performance.
The CONTRAMAZA is the area of the work piece opposite the HUB. Is narrower and usually more seasoned, more consistently. Both surface and internally offers little fat. Does not have high performance.
The BABILLA other hand, has fewer ham than the “hub” this is due to be bounded by the femur and hip bones.
This part is less juicy than the hub, so it is recommended to start with ham when its use will be extended in time, so that conserver can be better and take the piece to the fullest.
The PUNTA (TIP) is the distal part of the ham completely opposite to the hoof. It is very tasty and has a good level of fat. However, if not sufficiently protected from fat, it can sometimes be a bit salty.
The part of the CARRETE (hock) and CAÑA is commonly used to extract diced ham, the texture of the meat is tough and fibrous and has different tastes.
In either case, we must distinguish intramuscular fat (muscle that separates the different parts of others) and interstitial (which separates muscle fibers that is sandwiched in thin bands and irregular).
Regarding color, although the external fat color to yellow, even a little dark due to oxidation in the maturation, internal fat, which is ingested, it should be white and shiny.
The color of the muscles must be red, darker in the most profound and significant brightness produced by the high content of intramuscular fat.
Smell and taste…smelling and testing
The fat content is a quality factor of the hams, because it resides much of the virtues buds. The external fat is oxidized faster and its transformation into aromatic principles is less important. Instead, the fat of the membrane of muscle cells, mainly phospholipids, is what becomes aromatic principles and through it, it is known if the animal is primed to think (more rancid flavor) or acorn (pleasant aromas .)
Iberico ham tasting
In a ham can be found many aromatic components and degradation of proteins also influences the formation of aromas and flavors of the ham, and that the presence of various amino acids is linked to the different flavors sweet, sour and bitter, which, together with the salt, giving rise to the incomparable flavor of Iberian ham.
Another very important parameter is the degree of salt, on which can only act in the salting stage. A suitable salt is favorable to stimulate insalivation and, therefore, to facilitate the perception of flavor and enhances the perception of sweet taste attributes required of a good ham, which are responsible for various amino acids, esters and ketones.
The flavor and aroma of a good ham must remain patent after swallowing as can be seen is when some nuances that were not noticed during chewing.
Notes the occurrence of rancidity may differ in the same ham according to the part of the piece (mace, contramaza or tip) and that participation could have the outer fat in the sample tasted. If very low rancidity can be evaluated positively, if you increase is attributed to cure hams past and, when high, may be due to the acceleration of the maturation process for elevated temperature. The spicy tones are always considered a defect.
In the language spoken tasting flavors:
- Liability: fishy, musty, and damp potato
- Positive: a nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds), toast, burnt sugar and wine (sometimes the difference in flavor between cellar and humidity can be too subtle).
As ham DEFECTS consider: excess salt, rancidity, woodiness, hardness, excessive dryness and interstitial fat oxidation, denoted by yellow tones.
As ham VIRTUES: the flavor and aroma of cured acorn, juiciness, brightness and fluidity of the fat and the deep red color and bright lean.
All the above factors make the observation and tasting obtain a general impression that determines how we value each piece.
The qualities of the texture of Iberian ham are due to the meat (which will determine the juiciness, dryness, hardness and fibrous) and fat (mainly responsible for the fluidity and hardness). The set of all these features there are two derived properties: roughness and harshness.
• Juiciness: Depending on the release of the juices from the ham during the chewing process, this will depend mainly on the degree of maturation and pig feed.
• Dry: It is based on the level of maturation, since in the process the meat loses moisture and becomes drier. If drying is exceeded, it will be too dry, you lose juiciness, aroma and flavor.
• Hardness and woodiness: both negative factors depend on the intramuscular fat, which is a favorable factor for quality. It is the presence of connective tissue that acts negatively.
• Fluidity of fat: The fat fluid, shown bright to medium, indicating that the presence of unsaturated high.
It is easy to differentiate a good Iberian ham that is not, but the problem is that there are many nuances that make each gradation is due to the purity of the breed, food or feed on acorns and for more or menso time and the healing process, more or less care and prolonged, because all these factors have a very direct impact on the quality of the final product.