The curing stages of Serrano ham, along with the maturation, are the last process that takes place in the development of the ham. The most important of the two stages is to monitor the temperature levels, moisture levels of the air(that must be between 68% and 76%) and ventilation. Both stages are separated by the "pannage" of the Serrano ham, the action of putting a layer of pig fat over the meat of the ham that is still visible (i.e. where it isn't already covered with skin).
In the stage of curing the ham the process finishes when the aromas have been formed, but the ham continues to lose water. The optimum temperature for the curing of Serrano ham must be around 14ºC, thus the ham acquires perfect stability. The humidity must be between 68% and 76% . The curing of Serrano ham can take place in in whichever type of dryer: artificial or natural.
- The artificial dryer is completely enclosed and monitored by a system that ingresses and expels air. The system consists in alternating periods with air and without.
Artificial dryer dedicated to curing the ham
-The natural dryer can only be used if the climate of the region allows it, with warm, constant temperatures and little moisture in the air; permitting some variation over time. It must be equipped with screens, shutters, fans and a heater. These dryers must be revised various times a day.
DuranteDuring the maturation stage the aromas of the ham start to form. The maturation of the ham can take place in whichever type of dryer. To achieve a good aroma and a good colour of the ham, the internal temperature has to be between 15ºC and 16ºC, but the type of temperature used depends on the type of ham you want to make. In this stage the ham usually loses 1% in weight every month. The humidity in the stage of maturation must be around 70%. Thus with a good "pannage" (explained above) the ham doesn't form a hard crust on the surface. The duration of this period can be found with reference to the weight of a fresh ham, for example, 2 kg of ham would need 2 months of maturation so on and so forth.
Once it has finished the stage of maturation, the Serrano ham is ready to sell.