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Acorns are a very important food in the diet of the Iberian pig. The acorn is a fruit of the cork oak and holm oak and is rich in nutrients such as proteins, fats and fiber. In addition, acorns have a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are beneficial to health.

The Iberian pig feeds mainly on acorns during the autumn and winter, when the leaves of the cork oak or holm oak have fallen and the acorns are ripe and within reach. This allows it to accumulate fat in its body in a natural way, which is reflected in the quality of the meat and the flavor of the Iberian ham.

In addition, acorns also have an impact on the environment of the dehesas. The dehesas are a unique ecosystem found mainly in the Iberian plateau region and are made up of holm oak and cork oak trees. Acorns are an essential food for the conservation of these ecosystems, as they attract a wide variety of animals that feed on them and contribute to their dispersal.

In summary, acorns are a fundamental food in the diet of the Iberian pig and have a positive impact on both the quality of the meat and the environment of the dehesas.

In Spain there are several types of pork, each with its own characteristics and used mainly for the production of different meat products. The most common types of pork in Spain are:

  1. Iberian pork: is a native breed of Spain and is considered to be of high quality. The Iberian pig feeds mainly on acorns and its meat is highly prized for its unique flavor and aroma. It is mainly used for the production of Iberian ham, loins and chorizos.
  2. White pig: it is a very common breed in Spain and is characterized by very lean and white meat. The white pig is mainly used for the production of Serrano ham and slices of York ham.
  3. Black pig: is a breed of pig native to Asturias and is characterized by a thick black skin and very tasty meat. The black pig is mainly used for the production of high quality chorizos and sausages.
  4. Duroc pork: is a breed of pork originating in the United States and is characterized by its very juicy and marbled meat. Duroc pork is mainly used for the production of ham and loin.

In summary, in Spain there is a great variety of pig breeds, each with its own characteristics and used mainly for the production of different meat products.

The montanera is the feeding period of the Iberian pig in which it feeds exclusively on acorns, which is a fruit of the cork oak or holm oak. The montanera begins when the leaves of the cork oak or holm oak have fallen and the acorns are ripe and within reach and usually lasts until the end of winter.

During the montanera, the Iberian pig is fed exclusively on acorns and is allowed to move freely in the fields, which allows it to accumulate fat in a natural way. This fat is distributed evenly throughout the pig's body and gives the meat a unique flavor and aroma.

The "montanera" is a very important period in the production of Iberian ham, since feeding on acorns is one of the factors that determines the quality and flavor of the ham. For this reason, the "montanera" is a key element in the production of high quality Iberian ham.

Iberian ham seals are the seals that guarantee the quality and origin of the ham. The different seals on Iberian ham are:

  1. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): this is a seal that guarantees that the ham meets strict quality requirements and has been produced in a specific geographical area. In order to carry this seal, the ham must comply with very specific rules regarding the feeding and rearing of the pig, as well as with specific production and maturation processes.
  2. BLACK SEAL: 100% Acorn-fed Iberian Ham "Pata Negra": this seal guarantees that the ham has been produced from 100% Iberian pigs that have been fed on acorns for at least the last third of their lives.
  3. RED SEAL: 50% or 75% Acorn-Fed Iberian Ham: this seal guarantees that the ham has been produced from 50% or 75% Iberian pigs that have been fed on acorns for at least the last third of their lives.
  4. GREEN Seal: Cebo de Campo Iberian Ham: this seal guarantees that the ham has been produced from Iberian pigs that have been fed a diet that includes feed and grass, as well as acorns during at least the last third of their lives.
  5. WHITE Seal: Cebo Iberian Ham: this seal guarantees that the ham has been produced from Iberian pigs that have been fed exclusively on feed throughout their lives.

In short, Iberian ham seals are seals that guarantee the quality and origin of the ham and are based on the pig's diet and breeding.

When buying an Iberian ham, an excellent way to choose a good one without fear of making a mistake is to opt for one with Designation of Origin (D.O.). César Nieto Iberian hams are included in the Guijuelo Denomination of Origin, and although it is common knowledge that this certification is a guarantee of product quality, few really know what we are talking about when we refer to this certification. Here we tell you all about it!

A Denomination of Origin is a classification used to legally protect certain agricultural products and foodstuffs linked to a specific geographical area and to the traditional methods used in their production. This certification assures us that the products have specific quality standards and characteristics and is granted by bodies and entities in charge of certifying these conditions and setting the rules according to the type of product.

In the case of Iberian ham, current legislation establishes that there are four Denominations of Origin for Iberian pork in Spain, the oldest of which is that of Guijuelo, created in 1986 under the impetus of César Nieto and other businessmen in the area.

This D.O. is associated with the municipality of Guijuelo, in the province of Salamanca, and is linked to this geographical area in two ways. On the one hand, through the breeding of Iberian animals in the delimited regions that make up the production area, and on the other hand, through the production of hams and shoulders in a specific production area.

Thus, the pig production area of the Guijuelo D.O. includes several regions rich in oak and cork oak pastures located in Castilla y León, Extremadura, Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha.

The processing area is much more restricted, as it is related to tradition and particular climatic conditions (low rainfall, mild ambient temperatures, high wind regime due to the peneplain between two mountain systems, etc.) that have led to the existence of a highly specialized pork industry in Iberian pork products. The area where the hams are slaughtered, cured and matured is located in the southeast of the province of Salamanca, at an altitude of over a thousand meters. Sheltered from the Central System, the privileged microclimate of the region with its cold and dry winters, as well as its mild and short summers, allows a perfect drying and maturation of the hams. Along with Guijuelo, the production area is completed by the municipalities of Ledrada, Campillo de Salvatierra, Béjar, Aldeavieja de Tormes, Frades de la Sierra, Miranda del Castañar, Palomares de Béjar, Puerto de Béjar, and Tamames.

When implementing a Denomination of Origin, a series of product conditions must be specified, such as the name, the description of its fundamental characteristics and the delimitation of the geographical area. In addition, it must be demonstrated that the Iberian ham has specific quality standards, and in this regard, the Guijuelo D.O. is the only appellation that analyzes the pieces using the stable isotope technique at the beginning of the curing process. The result of this analysis makes it possible to qualify or disqualify the products.

In general, the hams and shoulders protected by the D.O. Guijuelo are elongated and stylized, are profiled and keep the hoof. The minimum weight is 4.5 kg for hams and 3.5 kg for shoulders. Its consistency is firm in the muscular masses and slightly unctuous and depressible in the adipose tissue areas. Externally, the mycotic flora is white, bluish-gray, dark or violet in color. When cut, it appears pink to purple-red in color, with a shiny appearance and veins of adipose tissue and fat infiltrated in the muscle mass. The meat has a delicate flavor, sweet or slightly salty, with little fibrous consistency and high friability. The aroma is pleasant and characteristic. The fat is unctuous, depending on the percentage of acorn feeding, with a bright yellowish-white color, aromatic and pleasant flavor, not rancid.

Hams with D.O. Guijuelo have a certification seal, through which we can identify the category of the ham or shoulder. In addition, they carry the label of the brand with the corresponding information (ingredients, the brand of the dryer or cellar and the type of ham it is, both feed and breed). The vitolas of the Guijuelo D.O. carry the yellow and red seal that identifies the ham and also incorporate the colors of the standard.

The Guijuelo Denomination of Origin certification is a quality guarantee that ensures that the products have a certain composition and that they have been cured and elaborated with very specific characteristics. Therefore, when choosing an acorn-fed product, do not gamble and choose those with this certification, such as our César Nieto acorn-fed products. You can find our D.O. Guijuelo certified hams and shoulders in our online store.

Iberian ham slicing

Within the Iberian hams there are differences, in this case classified on the basis of the percentage of Iberian breed and the type of feeding of the pig.

Iberian ham according to its percentage of Iberian breed.
This type of classification is governed by the genetics of the animal's breed:

100% Iberian: Based on the pedigree book of the breed, both the father and the mother are 100% certified Iberian breed.

75% Iberian: In order to have this label, the mother will be 100% certified Iberian breed but the father will be 50% Iberian.

50% Iberian: In this case, the mother will be 100% certified Iberian but the father will be 100% Duroc.

Iberian ham according to its feed
In this case, the classification becomes more relevant, since the diet and the way in which the Iberian pig has been fed directly determines its flavor, aroma and texture.

In this way, the regulations regulate the following groups:

Acorn: Iberian pigs are fed exclusively on grass and acorns, in total freedom in the pasture for at least 2 months (montanera). It must be cured for a minimum of 24 months. At César Nieto, our 100% Iberian acorn-fed acorn-fed ham is cured for 36 months.

Cebo en campo ibérico: In this case, although they do enjoy some time in the pasture, they are also fed with cereal feed. In our online store you can find this type of hams with a curing period of more than 30 months.

Cebo: Cebo Iberian ham has been fed with cereal feed and raised in a shed. It is the most inferior of these three classifications, but without renouncing exceptional quality.