Iberican Pigs: Their History
Iberian pigs naturally feed on one of the characteristic Mediterranean ecosystems, the pastureland, fostering a unique inter-relationship between the two: Iberian pig production requires the conservation of the pastureland and vice versa; the pastureland needs Iberian pigs to maintain their ecological equilibrium. There is a clear-cut growing consumer demand for this product, and if it were spread further across the peninsula, there is no doubt that it would be one of the staple foods in the Mediterranean diet.
There are two main varieties of Iberian pigs, namely the black and the red:
- The black, in turn, has two sub-varieties, the "entrepelada" and "lampiña". In both these varieties, the animals are smaller in size, but have a greater tendency to accumulate fat.
- The red variety is divided into "Golden pig", "Spotted Jabugo" and Extremadura Red" or "Retina". The last of these is the most common variety, in addition to being the most muscular of the Iberian varieties. Nowadays, the "Golden pig" has almost completely disappeared, as has the "Spotted Jabugo".
The production process used today has been inherited from the traditional method which began by slaughtering pigs in the coldest months in order to be able to salt and dry them in the sun, which must be performed at low temperatures. The rest of the process is carried out following the natural cycle of the seasons, as the arrival of spring and then summer gradually increases the temperatures.