Both prosciutto and jamon Serrano come from similar breeds of white pig, but each have a different flavour and texture. Italian prosciutto has a sweet, delicate flavour and a less dry texture than Spanish jamon serrano. which in turn has is of a deeper red colour and is more intense in flavour.
This is due to the longer curing phase for Jamon Serrano, usually for up to eighteen months, along with other variations in the overall processing of the hams. The term jamon Serrano comes from ham from the "sierra", meaning mountain range. This name derives from the "secaderos" or drying sheds which are used to keep the jamon dry and cool after the extensive curing process. These secaderos are generally built on higher ground elevations, hence the name "mountain ham".
Jamon Serrano is widely applied as a culinary umbrella term for all dry-cured ham produced in Spain. It is one of the most globally recognised of Spanish delicacies and foods most typical to Spain, along with paella and gazpacho. The majority of Spanish jamones are produced from a landrace (ie, pigs that have been purposely, specifically domesticated and bred) breed of white pigs or from commercial breeds such as the Duroc. Jamon Serrano, described variously as jamon reserva, jamon curado and jamon extra or any other generic term of jamon, is produced from compound fed pigs. It has Traditional Specialities Guaranteed status, this certification guarantees that a particular food product objectively possesses specific characteristics that differentiate it from all others in its category. and that its raw materials, composition or method of production have been consistent for a minimum of thirty years continously.