Kintoa ham is an exceptional ham, in the same way that a Grand Cru is for wines. The rearing and processing of this breed of pig is based on an ancestral and natural savoir-faire that allows for a tender and succulent meat that delivers exceptional aromas, based on nuts and grilled spices. This breed takes up to four times as long as regular commercial pigs to develop, and develops significantly more fat that other breeds. You can identify the breed by its characteristic pink stomach and legs with a black head and rear.
This unique pork meat recently obtained Protected Designation of Origin status. The pork comes from the rare Basque breed of pig, known as the Pie Noir du Pays Basque in French. The breed had nearly disappeared by the 1980s, with less than 100 sows remaining, but was then preserved by small farmers in the Basque Region of France and parts of neighboring Spain thanks to a conservation program dedicated to preserving rare local breeds.
There are currently a little over 400 sows of this breed in total, raised on 70 rustic farms using strict, traditional methods of raising. You can recognize high-quality Kintoa ham meat by the vivid contrast in colors between the intense red parts of the meat and the brilliant color of white of the fat.
The pigs may only be raised in the Basque Region and a small number of nearby areas. They must also be raised on small farms, with a maximum of 40 pigs per farm, which must be composed of prairie, woods and moors. There is also a limit of 35 pigs per hectare in prairies and 25 per hectare in wooded areas, which prevents the development of mass-production, preserving the rustic nature of the product. The food for the pigs must also come from a healthy diet of non-GMO cereals that come from the same area the pigs are raised.