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Jamon Serrano and Prosciutto appear to be pretty much the same thing. Both are dried cured (and pressed) pig legs. Speck appears to be the same thing, but made with different cuts of pork.

Is there actually a functional difference in them? Or is the difference in flavour simple due to regional variations (climate, moulds etc.)

  • I don't know why English speakers always misspell that... it's called "prosciutto" – nico Jun 11 '12 at 16:57
  • Maybe because the "iu" vowel combination is almost nonexistent in English aside from "-ium" suffixes and foreign words. – smcg Jun 11 '12 at 19:29
  • @smcg: that could indeed be an explanation. It just sounds weird to me because you would really read it in a different way :) – nico Jun 12 '12 at 19:33
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Differences are mainly a question of origin. Speck comes from Tyrol (it actually means "bacon" in german, which is misleading) and is prepared with a specific blend of spices, usually including juniper, Jamon Serrano from Spain (it means "mountain ham" in spanish) and is a dry-cured ham, and prosciutto just means "ham" in italian.

There are plenty of differences in flavor, consistency and aspect, depending on the difference of preparation: ripening, spices and herbs and so on.

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    Note that in Italian we distinguish "prosciutto crudo" (lit. raw ham) which is similar to Serrano (but sweeter I would say) from "prosciutto cotto" (lit. cooked ham) which is what you would call white ham in English. – nico Jun 11 '12 at 17:00
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    Different kinds of Speck are made in all German speaking parts of Europe and not only Tyrol. What do you mean that it is misleading that it means bacon? Speck is usually made of the same cut as bacon, but it is cured and usually eaten raw. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 11 '12 at 23:54
  • It's misleading because it's not ham at all, actually. Bacon comes from the thorax or the abdomen, and it's mainly fat, with some layer of meat. Ham comes from the thights or shoulders, and is mainly meat (muscle). – Alexis Dufrenoy Oct 26 '18 at 9:26
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Disclaimer: This answer doesn't include anything about Speck.

There is a great article by Roberta Schira where the differences between Prosciutto di Parma and Jamón Iberico are explained.
I'll try to summarize the article below, but please check the full article which has many more details...

... they are both raw hams but entirely different. Both belong to the category of top quality cold cuts, both are eaten sliced and both are made from the leg of pork.

The essential difference between these two ham varieties is that Parma raw ham can be enjoyed as an ingredient or accompaniment, while Jamón Iberico is religiously consumed on its own.

Appearance

Prosciutto di Parma has a rounded shape. The ham slice is red with white fat only around the outside edge. When cut, the slice should not look shiny but moist.
Jamón Iberico is coral red in colour with infiltrations of fat and the cut slice is small and rectangular in shape.

Production area

The Italian prosciutto is produced in Parma province in Italy, whereas the Spanish ham comes from the regions of Salamanca, Extremadura and Andalusia in Spain.

Aging process

Prosciutto di Parma is aged for at least 12 months. The ageing process of Iberico ham ranges from 24 to 36 months.

Pig breeds

Only the 100% Italian natural meat of traditional pig breeds of Large White and Landrace are selected, raised on a diet of genuine foodstuffs such as corn, barley and whey, aged at least 9 months and weighing on average 160 kg.
Authentic Iberico ham must be made entirely from the meat of black Iberian pigs, left free to roam in a pasture where they feed off oak acorns, as well as the aromatic herbs growing wild.

Cut

Prosciutto di Parma is machine cut into extremely fine slices. Jamón Iberico is hand carved.

Ingredients

Nothing but salt is used to produce Prosciutto di Parma and it is forbidden to use chemical substances, preservatives or any other additives. Neither is smoking or freezing permitted.
Preservatives are allowed in the production of Iberico ham, even though producers do not all use the same ones.

  • But isn't there a difference between Jamón Iberico and Jamón Serrano, the latter of which the question asks about? – demongolem Apr 3 at 15:18
  • Jamón Iberico is made of the black pig, is fed differently and is aged longer than Jamón Serrano (these are the major differences). They are different in taste, texture and price, but are much closer to each other than to Prosciutto or Speck. – gevra Apr 4 at 10:51

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