This is about the pig and its derivatives made in Zambujal, in the hills of the Algarve. At the head of the project are two brothers who, after the long wait for each animal to reach the right age, proceed to slaughter and cutting, and later making products that, just by reading, “make your mouth water”.
Where to buy
Comida Independente, Lisbon
A Praça, Lisbon
Quinta das Marias, Tavira
João Rodrigues, Feitoria
Texto de Patrícia Serrado
In 2013, Manuel and Rui Jerónimo, two brothers, founded the agro-industrial society Feito na Zambujal and installed it on the hill that once belonged to their grandparents and, later, to their parents. The property is at the eastern end of Serra do Caldeirão, specifically in Zambujal, a place in the parish of Vaqueiros, in the municipality of Alcoutim, district of Faro.
The creation of the Alentejo pigs is made in three phases. The first comprises of maternity, where the animals stay for the first month. The second consists of an intermediate enclosure, intended for younger animals that, at three months, are sent to the enclosure reserved for adults - of nearly five hectares - and stay there, on average, until they’re 18 months. During this period, they are all fed on cereals (wheat, barley), remains of vegetables and acorn, when in season, reinforces Manuel Jerónimo who, at weekends, on holidays and at the time of slaughter, heads to Lugar do Zambujal, to dedicate himself to this family business.
As soon as they are about a year and a half old, the pigs go, in October or November, for slaughter in a certified slaughterhouse. “Then they come in carcasses,” he continues. The cutting and manufacturing are done at the factory, built from scratch, in 2012, on the hill. “Although we use some machinery, our philosophy is to do as we did in the past, respecting the time of the animals and this reflects in the meat”, says Manuel Jerónimo.
At the factory, the spaces are properly divided. After cutting, they send the pieces to the respective work areas. Let's go through the cold room to get to the workroom, where the machines produce sausages. “For sausages, we only use natural pork casings, Castro Marim salt, garlic and pepper paste from our garden, on the hill.” This product then goes to the production area divided into a smokehouse and salting box. If it is to be roasted, the sausage remains in the smokehouse for two weeks, while the cure takes between three to four weeks. Firewood is equally important, being rock rose, to start the fire, and holm oak used in this process. "Smoking makes all the difference and will add extra spice to the sausages."
For example, the normal loaves remain in the smokehouse for two to three months and the loin loaves remain, “at least three months between cold and smoking”. Both are wrapped in fat’s veil. “It has a very thin film and is a natural protection that is used,” explains Manuel Jerónimo.
In the salting box, space where humidity and temperature are controlled, the curing of the ham is done according to the weight of the piece, that is, if it weighs 12 kilos it is preserved in salt for 12 days. After this time, the ham is transported to the cellar, where it hangs, drying, between 24 and 30 months. The bellies are cured in salt for two weeks. “The salt we use is always from Castro Marim.”
Feito no Zambujal products are for sale at Comida Independente and Praça, both in Lisbon, and at Quinta das Marias, in Tavira. But those who want to see everything up close can head to Zambujal, to visit the factory. In the end, it is necessary to taste the products in the tasting room next to the kitchen, where they are prepared perceptively, and to take home those available for sale in the store. "You only need to give a day or two notice in advance."