The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat Iberico ham. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What Iberico etiquette is

Iberico etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat Iberico ham. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve Iberico ham to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat Iberico ham at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat jamon iberico

What you should know about Iberico

Iberico ham is a cured ham made from Iberian pigs, which are a breed of pig native to the Iberian Peninsula.

Iberico ham is typically a deep red color with marbled fat. It has a firm texture and a complex, nutty flavor with hints of sweetness and saltiness.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat Iberico

1) How to store Iberico

Iberico ham should be stored in a cool, dry place, ideally between 15-20°C (60-70°F). To store it in the pantry, wrap it in a cloth or paper and keep it for up to a week. In the fridge, you can store it in the original packaging or wrapped in a cloth or paper for up to three weeks. In the freezer, you can store it for up to six months.

Store sliced or cooked Iberico ham in the fridge and consume it within a few days.

2) How to clean Iberico

There is no need to clean Iberico.

If Iberico ham turns bad, it will have a sour smell, a slimy texture, or mold on the surface.

3) How to prepare & cook Iberico

Iberico ham can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare Iberico ham for cooking, it can be sliced, diced, or shredded. Common utensils for preparing and cooking Iberico ham include a sharp knife, a grater, and a frying pan. The most common ways to cook Iberico ham are to sauté it, fry it, or bake it. Furthermore, Iberico ham is common in salads, sandwiches, and as a topping for pizzas.

Iberico ham is not suitable for vegan diets. It is appropriate for keto and paleo diets in moderation. There are no common allergies or food intolerances associated with Iberico ham. Some religious dietary restrictions forbid eating Iberico ham.

4) How to serve & present Iberico

Iberico ham is appropriate for formal and informal meals. You can serve it as a side dish, main course, or appetizer.

Serve Iberico ham at room temperature on a wooden board. A special knife called a jamonero is the most appropriate tool to slice Iberico ham. No special serving tools are required.

You can accompany Iberico ham with bread, olives, or almonds. It is common to serve seasonings such as salt, pepper, and olive oil to enhance the flavor.

5) Food and wine to pair Iberico with

Iberico ham pairs well with sweet or acidic fruits like figs and oranges, and vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and artichokes. Avoid pairing it with bitter vegetables.

Iberico ham pairs well with mild cheeses such as manchego or goat cheese, and dairy products such as crème fraîche. Avoid pairing it with strong or pungent cheeses, such as blue cheese. It goes well with other cured meats, such as chorizo or salami. Do not pair it with fish or seafood, as its strong taste will overpower these foods.

The most appropriate wine pairings include full-bodied red wines such as Rioja or Tempranillo, and white wines such as Albariño or Verdejo. It can also pair with sparkling wine, sherry, or beer.

6) How to eat Iberico

It is polite to eat Iberico ham with a fork and knife or just a fork. It is not appropriate to eat it with your fingers. You should discard the rind. It is best to eat the fat, as it is edible and it is not polite to discard it.

Iberico etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common Iberico etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Cutting Iberico ham incorrectly.
  • 5/10. Serving Iberico ham too cold or too hot.
  • 5/10. Not providing appropriate serving tools.

Additional information for properly serving Iberico

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Iberico ham is a high-calorie food. A serving of Iberico ham (about 1 ounce or 28 grams) contains around 110 calories, and 100 grams of Iberico ham contains approximately 400-450 calories.

How to buy the best Iberico

A crucial factor in Iberico etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Iberico ham is generally available year-round.

Choose the best

Iberico ham is commonly found in commerce in the form of whole hams, sliced hams, and packaged hams. It can also be found in specialty stores or online.

There are several varieties of Iberico ham, categorized based on the breed of pig, their feeding regimen, and how long the ham has been cured. The most prized varieties are Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and Jamón Ibérico de Recebo, which come from free-range pigs that feed on acorns and natural pastures.

When buying Iberico ham, look for hams with a firm texture, a deep red color, and good marbling. A good Iberico ham should have a rich, nutty aroma and a complex, savory flavor. The curing time of the ham is also important, as longer curing times tend to produce a more flavorful and tender ham.

Alternatives to iberico

Some common alternatives to Iberico ham include prosciutto di Parma, Serrano ham, and other types of cured ham from different world regions. These hams may have different flavors and textures due to variations in the curing process and the breed of pig used.