The Iberian pig, also known as “cerdo ibérico”, is a traditional pig native to the Iberian Peninsula. This animal can be found in the west of Spain and in some areas in the east of Portugal. It is in these regions where we can find the favourite ecosystem for these animals: the Dehesa. These pastures packed with jolm oaks, gall oaks and cork oaks produce one of the key elements in the diet of iberian pigs: the acorn (“bellota”).
Experts cannot confirm exactly the origin of this animal. But most of them agree that there was an interbreeding between regular pigs and wild boars thousands of years ago. As a result from that mixture, a new type of pig appeared in Spain and Portugal and evolved until the modern Iberian pig that we all know.
Iberian Pigs’ Features
The most typical feature of this pig is its hoof, which is black. That is why it is also known as “pata negra” (black hoof). However, some varieties of this pig might not have the hoof as black as others.
Their color of their body might vary from black to grey or even brownish-red.
One of the reasons why its flavour is so unique comes from their genetic hability to accumulate intramuscular fat. This fat produces the typical marbling when carving the Iberian Ham.
Most of these animals are reaised free in the countryside. That allows them to exercise and eat all types of plants, roots, grass and, of course, acorns. This gives its fat an amazing nutty flavour which makes this animal the Ferrari of pigs.
These pigs get fat very quickly, barely in 1 or two years they are ready to go. Before they are slaughtered, their weight can be over 150 kilograms (330 pounds).