20 nov, 2019

Ham or shoulder? …That is the question

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At this point we may be more than sure about what a ham is and what a shoulder is, but do you know what its main differences are? Not sure if you should buy one or the other? We help you to clear it up.

As you know, both come from the legs of the pigs, but although they have a similar appearance are two different products.

Shoulders come from the front legs of the pig, while the hams come from the hind legs. As we can imagine by its own constitution, the back legs are bigger and meaty than the front legs, which are thinner. Therefore, the first obvious difference will be the size: Hams will range between 70 and 90 centimeters while the shoulders will vary between 60 and 75 centimeters.


We should know that the Iberian ham usually has an approximate weight of between 6 and 9 kg. The proportion between bone and fat is approximately 50% although if it is of good quality, this proportion may be even lower.

Shoulder’s weight is normally of between 4 and 6 kg. The proportion between fat and bone reaches 60%, (its meat has more fat) and also, due to the shape and position of its bones, the shoulder is more complicated to slice.

Another of the main differences is the taste. The shoulder, being closer to the bone and with more fat, will always have a more intense flavor than the ham that will have more varied nuances depending on the parts.

Finally, we cannot forget the curying time. Due to the morphological differences that we have explained, curing time of both pieces will be different. Shoulders have less meat and will have shorter healing times in comparison to hams. That is why the price per kilo of ham will always be higher.

In the case of Iberian hams, the curing time will vary between 15 and 48 months. However,  Iberian shoulder will be cured from 12 to 36 months.

So is better a ham or a shoulder?

Our answer is: They are produced in the same way, but they are different products.

When it comes to helping you choose between one or the other for us it will be essential to know how many people will consume it and at how long it will take. If you are few and you are going to make a prolonged consumption at home, it will be advisable to purchase a shoulder or a small ham, since if the piece is open for a long time without being consumed, it will end up overdrying.

But the most important thing is the preference of each one. There are those who prefer the shoulders and some who prefer the hams.

And you, do you prefer ham or shoulder?