Truly free range and happy pigs.
The Dehesa San Francisco is a beautiful place, full of native trees and overflowing with wildlife, and Ernestine is a great guardian for all this beauty and nature.
The Iberian pigs make up the largest percentage of animals on the Dehesa. The "Ibéricos" are the consumers and “processors” of the acorns from the holm, cork and Portuguese oak trees which fall to the ground from October through February.
After the slaughter of the pigs which usually takes place in winter, the legs of the pigs are marinated for a few days in sea salt, washed off, and then hung in cool rooms so that the salt, the only preservative used in the process, has time to penetrate into the meat.
Afterwards, the meat is then transported to the curing rooms to “sweat” so that the fat disperses throughout the meat by means of a network of small vessels, ensuring that the unique taste of the fat enhances the product.
Finally, the meat is removed to the storage cellars , the bodegas, for maturing. After this three year long process, the consumer can be assured of getting, in every sense of the word, one of the most traditional types of food available.
Aside from being able to appreciate the wonderful taste of the meat from the Iberian pig one can also benefit from the fact that the fat contained in these products is, in contrast to meat from “white pigs”, heart healthy. For this reason the locals call the “pata negra” or “black trotter” by another designation: olive oil on 4 legs.
Today, the Iberian pig is often cross-bred with more “productive” strains of pigs so that the birthing of the piglets is earlier, the piglets and adult pigs can no longer be free range animals. Many of today’s Iberian pigs have no Dehesa to live on and have never seen a single acorn. The curing of the meat in more artificial surroundings and under different circumstances shortens the processing time but also detracts from the quality of this delicatessen item.
Thanks to the cooperation of the processing company Consorcio de Jabugo – Derivados del Cerdo Iberico, it has been possible to acquire the stamp of certification which ensures that traditional processing has been used in making this product. Accountability, adherence to rules and regulations, the use of ecologically sound feeding practices and the absence of any type of chemical additives results in a product that the consumer can be assured is of the very best quality, healthful, and produced by a means which is respectful of the animals.
Our organic Spanish ham comes from the estate of Dehesa San Francisco, a farm run by a foundation formed for the preservation of the andulacian ecosystem. Their Iberian pigs are descendants of the mediterranean wild boar rather than the White pig and all the pigs are allowed to mature to at least one and a half years rather than the 6 months that is normal within this farming practice.
Ernestine and her husband work tirelessly to protect the estate and the wildlife that lives within, and their commitment to all things ecological and natural is beautifully evident when you meet them and walk through the Dehesa de San Francisco.