Wholesale Jamon guide

Most restaurants prefer to work with boneless jamon in the kitchen because it’s easily sliced on a mechanical slicer (best at slower speeds, with the jamon chilled). Smaller in size than bone-in, it is easier to store. 

Bone-in jamones are great for display, don’t require refrigeration, and last for months. The consensus is that bone-in jamon is tastier but slicing it is labor-intensive and requires some skill, though it is nothing an experienced chef can’t pick up in an afternoon with a serrano ham and youtube. Some restaurants have a bone-in in the dining area, with someone artfully slicing during peak hours, while serving mainly mechanically-sliced boneless jamon from the kitchen.

There are three types of jamon:

Serrano: least expensive, similar to prosciutto but tastier, cured for 9-18 months.

Iberico: the famous pata negra (black foot) ham, made from black iberian pigs. Big draw for gourmet customers.

Iberico de Bellota: acorn-fed, wild-raised iberico. Exquisite and expensive. Served in small portions (1 oz or less), it can be very profitable. Cinco Jotas is the preeminent luxury brand.

Jamones come in two sizes:

Large jamones (jamón, back leg) - bigger, richer flavor, longer cure. About 65% useable meat by weight on bone-in.

Small jamones (paleta, front leg)- smaller, milder flavor, more fat, about 45% useable meat by weight on bone-in.

To figure out cost per portion, try our portioning calculator.

Before opening the vacuum pack a boneless jamon will be fine for three months, refrigerated. Once opened it will begin to dry out slowly- keep it in a sealed container, better still, cut it into parts and wrap in film or vacuum-pack what you won’t be using that week. 

Before cutting, a bone-in ham can be kept at room temperature for six months. Once cut, exposed meat will begin to dry out, but the meat will not spoil at room temperature. If you cut from it regularly and/or keep exposed meat covered with a cheesecloth you can cut on a jamon for up to a month. A jamon holder and a good jamon knife (long and flexible, similar to a salmon filleting knife) are essential. Iberico hambones add astonishing flavor to soups and stews. Saw them into 1-inch pieces and freeze.

Always serve jamon at room temperature.