I want to buy a female ham. what is true that female ham is better?

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It is common to find in certain points of sale the denomination “Jamón de Hembra” (female ham). Many customers ask us about the difference between a female ham and a male ham.

After consulting some bibliography and experts, we must conclude that scientifically there is NO difference between Iberian ham from female Iberian pigs and Iberian ham from male pigs.

Objectively, it is true that females have a higher fat content than males. However, in the case of the Iberian pig, the males are castrated in the first months of life and this allows their fat content to be higher. Thus, there should be no difference between male and female Iberian ham. Scientific studies have proven this.

But before going to the scientific evidence, you may ask: Why is the Iberian pig castrated?

On the one hand, there is the age at which the Iberian pig is slaughtered. Since they are older than the age at which they reach sexual maturity, non-neutering would cause unpleasant tastes and odors in the carcasses.

In addition, breeding free-ranging animals with uncastrated adult Iberian pigs would cause animal fighting problems.

Knowing the reasons for castration of the Iberian pig, let’s go to the scientific evidence.

In 1982, in a research project carried out between INIA with Torbiscales pigs from Dehesón del Encinar and the Dept. of Animal Production of the ETSIAM, 95 pigs were slaughtered (48 whole females and 47 castrated males between 115 kg and 175 kg).

The composition of the ham, adjusted to the same weight, was as follows

ComponentNeutered MaleFemaleDifference
Skin 0,420,43-0,01
Bone 1,531,54-0,01
Lean5,265,37-0,11
Subcutaneous Fat3,213,140,07
Intermusc grease0,310,300,01

The biggest difference can be seen in the amount of lean ham. Let’s take a look at its composition:

ComponentNeutered MaleFemaleDifference
Humidity68,7868,97-0,19
Protein20,5820,83-0,25
Grease9,28,590,61
Ashes1,331,330

This research project was part of the Doctoral Thesis of Dr. Emiliano de Pedro who concluded that there is NO appreciable difference between consuming a female Iberian ham and a male Iberian ham.

We are, therefore, faced with yet another myth about Iberian ham.

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