Have you ever noticed white spots on the surface of your Spanish ham? Like many Spanish Ham lovers, you are probably wondering what this is? Is something wrong with my ham? Can it still be eaten? Well, rest assured, those white spots are and there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. Here’s why!
Scientifically, these white spots are called Tyrosine or Tyrosine Crystals. It’s one of the amino acids that are part of the protein chain and is therefore present in the meat of the Iberian pig. Tyrosine crystals are formed during the maturation of the ham. When the proteins in the ham are broken down due to the curing process, free amino acids increase resulting in the ham losing water. When a ham loses water, tyrosine is regrouped and forms these famous white crystals found in Iberian hams. Additionally, external factors such as the diet of the pigs also aids in the formation of these crystals (white spots).
Although, Tyrosine (white spots) can appear in any location on the Spanish Ham and may vary in shape and size; it is nothing to be worried about. Tyrosine acts as a sign that the ham has been adequately cured and the maturation process is at its peak. It also indicates the quality of the ham by showing that the pig was properly fed and followed a healthy and balanced diet. Additionally, Tyrosine (white spots) is a representation of the time, care and dedication that has been put into bringing this gastronomic delight to the world and are perfectly natural to appear on your ham.
Indeed, your ham is good to be eaten when these crystals (white dots) appear. Furthermore, it is the natural curing process that helps in the formation of these crystals that has led to Spanish hams being one of the most loved and delicious products in the food industry.