Spanish cured meats came about by necessity. Folks were looking for ways to preserve meat without refrigeration and found that with salt, time, and the right temperature, they could safely store their beloved pork for months on end. While cured Spanish ham and shoulder are made to last well beyond any fresh cut, they do require some care to keep them in perfect shape before and after the first carvings.
So whether you’re slicing a brand new Bone-In Ham Acorn-Fed 100% Ibérico for party appetizers, or carving up slices of your Acorn-Fed 100% Ibérico Pork Shoulder for a dinnertime recipe, take the proper steps to preserve this gorgeous piece of artisanship. Here’s how to preserve a Spanish ham or pork shoulder so you can enjoy each slice at its optimal flavor and texture.
A whole leg of ham will last you bout 18 months. Once the ham is opened and you begin carving it will last 4 to 6 weeks before it begins to dry out. Plan accordingly to ensure you have time to utilize the entire ham.
Natural Mold is Okay
Natural molds develop on the outer layer of the ham and pork shoulder throughout the curing and aging process as natural protective barriers. Natural mold growth is totally normal and even expected, so don’t be alarmed. To remove the mold before you begin carving, take a clean kitchen towel and soak it in olive oil. Then gently rub down the moldy areas with the oiled cloth and the mold will magically disappear.
Only Slice What You Need
When it comes time to begin slicing your Iberico ham or pork shoulder, you first have to remove those outer layers of tough yellow fat to get down to the meat. However, unless you plan to carve the entire piece in one day— say for a big party— only remove the yellow fat from the parts you are intending to slice and eat that day. The skin and thick layers of fat help keep the ham well preserved so you can continue to enjoy it for days to come. Keep any outer layers you remove for later (read on to find out more).
If you cut more than you can consume in one sitting, you can always store the leftover slices in an airtight container and place in in the fridge to eat the next day. We definitely don’t recommend freezing jamón, as the low temperatures can ruin the fat composition and texture.
Maintain the Right Temperature
While a whole jamón does not require refrigeration, temperature is still an important component when it comes to preserving a Spanish ham or pork shoulder. While these pieces can withstand all sorts of transport and years of aging, they’re also rather delicate and need to be kept at the right temperature to stay fresh. Keep your piece in a dry and cool place with an ambient temperature of 55-68ºF. If you’ve already sliced into your ham, keep it secured on the ham holder.
Cover it Properly
Once you have finished slicing a section for the day, you need to protect the exposed surface (any areas you sliced). To do so, take those layers of fat and hard yellow skin you removed and saved, and place them over the exposed areas. This will keep the surface fresh and moist, and will prevent the fat and meat from drying out. Once covered in the fat, wrap the piece in plastic wrap to prevent any additional air contact and place a kitchen towel over the surface to protect it from light.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll keep your Spanish ham or pork shoulder fresh and perfectly flavorful for days to come.