Our Bayonne Hams production secrets
The PGI production of Bayonne Hams
THE TERROIR, OUR « IDENTITY »
Maison Baillet, based in the heart of the region of Chalosse, just north of the Basque Country works with carefully selected pig farmers in the area. The company, founded in the early 1960s, commits to using the whole animal, rather than selecting the cuts." From slaughtering to the production of PGI Bayonne Ham, along with dry cured meats and cooked charcuterie is looking at adding value to the whole sector.
A speciality: sow meat
An older, more mature animal, sow meat is highly marbled and darker in color. It is also stronger in flavor and perfectly adapted to a slow, long curing process. The range includes hams and smaller cured meats.
Agour perpetuates a ham curing tradition
From live pig to Bayonne Ham, the main stages
The maturing process aims at reproducing the natural drying conditions of the ham how it used to be done at the farm: the temperature of the drying sheds is regulated according to the seasons and the maturation process. Bayonne Hams are matured from 9 to 21 months. It is these extra months that give the ham its particular aroma.
Stage 1 - Salting : the ham is massaged with Salies-de-Béarn salt, then left to rest for several weeks, depending on its weight, so that the salt can be absorbed to the heart of the leg.
Step 2 - Maturing : the ham is washed and placed in a cold dryer which reproduces winter conditions and begins to lose weight.
Step 3 - Long drying at moderate temperature : moving on to spring and summer, the ham is then coated with a mixture of fat and flour to slow down the drying process and homogenize the texture.
One of the signs of quality: the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
The Bayonne Ham appellation comes from a strictly defined geographical area: the Adour Basin (Basque Country, Béarn, and certain neighbouring districts in Landes, Gers and Hautes-Pyrénées). It is in this area, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees, that the ideal conditions for producing a quality Bayonne Ham are found.
Maison Agour is even more demanding: 95% of its hams come directly from pigs raised by its loyal suppliers, all of whom are located in Gascony and the Basque Country.
Salt of Salies-de-Béarn PGI
Our Bayonne Hams are salted with Salies-de-Béarn, which comes from a spring discovered in the Bronze Age (1500 BC). Preserved from any pollution, it is naturally white and has an incomparably savory flavor. This heritage salt is the only ingredient in Bayonne Ham other than meat.
The first organic Bayonne Ham
Organic pig farmers follow strict rules, in addition to the PGI specifications. Pigs are fed exclusively with feed from organic farming and 90% grown on the farm. Baillet were the first producer to make an Organic Bayonne Ham !