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November, 2016

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In the valley of Rio Trevelez and below two of the highest mountains in Spain, the “village”: is the highest in Spain at an altitude of 1476m. It was one of the last strongholds of the Moors after the Wars of Conquest by the Catholic Kings.

The mountain slopes are semi arid. The lower slopes are terraced for irrigation. Deciduous trees grow in the valley bottom where there is plenty of water.

The village is built up the hillside with 200m difference between the top and bottom of the settlement. The top of the town is older and more traditional. The bottom of the village, Barrios Bajo is the tourist area. The cafes and tourist shops are here. Many sell the brightly coloured rugs which are hand woven in the area.

The architecture is typical of the area with steep narrow streets and passageways and white painted houses with flat roofs.

The area is famous for the quality of its air cured hams. The cold dry winter temperatures are ideal for drying hams. We visited Jamons Cano Gonzales La Ruta in Barrio Alta. Pigs are not kept in La Alpujarras and are brought here from the rest of Spain between September and March. The typical size is 10-11Kg which produces 6kg of ham. The best hams come from pigs who roam freely feeding on acorns.

The joints go through a press to remove the blood before being covered with dry salt for about five days. The hams are turned to make sure they all get covered. The hams are pressure washed to remove the salt before being hung to dry in sheds.

After about six months, the outside is rubbed with lard. This stops the skin from getting to dry and hard and cracking. The hams dry for a minimum of 14 months when they have lost about 40% of their weight. They are either sold as whole hams or the skin and outer layer of fat are removed and the hams are thinly sliced for selling. The ham is very dry with quite a pronounced flavour but isn’t salty. It is eaten cold and uncooked.

I visited here as part of a “‘Flavours of Spain'”: holiday arranged with “Solos Holidays.”:

My detailed trip report with all my pictures is


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