Heritage and innovation are not concepts that are at odds with each other. The origins of cured ham date back to the Roman Empire when in order to preserve food it was salted as a method of preservation. The traditional salting process remains in use and has improved over time due to its proven efficiency. As with any other craft, in the world of cured ham there are procedures and techniques that are maintained, knowledge that is inherited and traditions that are continued.
Tradition… and development
Joselito probably wouldn’t be Joselito if it wasn’t committed to the artisanal quality of the preparation process of traditional cured meat. Nor would the products be the same if there was not that scrupulous regard for the natural curing time of cured ham, which is a result of the region’s climate, without resorting to artificial techniques. The conviction that the more natural the process, the better the quality of the product is a maxim of the company. Nor is there any use of additives, preservatives or colours permitted.
After almost 150 years of life, and spanning six generations, Joselito has converted its family and traditional vision of the art of making cured ham its banner, and at the same time exploits its most technological side. Each generation has contributed something new to the company. It is with this in mind that for some time now Joselito has been committed to R&D&I and also the environment.
Declared Mejor Jamón del Mundo (Best Cured Ham in the World), Joselito clearly has the know-how to obtain the raw material: acorns, their own pig ranches, animals raised in freedom the during acorn grazing season, complete control of the production cycle, 100% natural product, in short, everything needed to ensure that the quality is unquestionable, but… can more be done? The Salamancan company is very clear about this, evolve as the world evolves and for each generation leaves its mark. These are mantras that today have made it the leading benchmark in research into the Iberian pig.
Joselito promotes studies and theses in relation to pigs in partnership with several universities such as the University of Salamanca, the Complutense University of Madrid, the University of Extremadura, the University of Cordoba, the University of Seville and the University of Évora. Many of the research papers have highlighted the high content of oleic acid in acorns, the main source of food at the Joselito pig ranches. Oleic acid helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, Acorns also contain natural antioxidants such as quercetin, a flavonoid that prevents the consequences of free radicals and their effects and promotes greater longevity of cells.
A laboratory with high-quality technological equipment
In 2001, Joselito created the first laboratory for the Iberian pig, located in Jerez de los Caballeros (Badajoz). Its purpose is to go beyond the quality of the product and discover the whys. The Iberian pig sector is a traditional sector which, in many cases, has been passed on from generation to generation and understands its processes in detail, but not so much the scientific explanation behind them. It is because of this, that within the context of the research into the Iberian pig, that significant discoveries have been made. For example, as highlighted by José Gómez, Chairman of Joselito in a recent interview with the Spanish newspaper Expansión, the research into the food of the Iberian pig in the pasture has proven that, contrary to what was previously thought, the intake of grass by the pig causes the fat in the ham not to turn rancid.
The team at the Joselito laboratory, formed by professionals from various disciplines and led by Beatriz Isabel Redondo, Doctor of Nutrition and Food Science at the Complutense University, has an instrument which was a pioneer in the development of research into the Iberian pig. The laboratory obtained a “smart nose” in 2001, one of the first to be used in Europe. This is a German technological system which when applied in the Iberian ham sector is capable of determining why some cured hams have a different aroma to others, and the reason why the sensorial perception of the consumer changes based on differences in raw material. The smart nose can pinpoint how the quality of the grass or the acorn are aspects which determine the characteristics of the product.
Joselito is now working on better understanding the final product and its components, under premises that are more scientific and with a foundation based on the gathering and analysis of data from a laboratory that has already been in operation for 16 years. Heritage, tradition, innovation and science merge with a single objective, making the Best Cured Ham in the World.