1. How do you send products that would typically be kept in the fridge?
We will add as many gel packs as we need to keep your item(s) cold during transit (these cold packs are reusable and totally free of charge). All our meats and cheeses are partially cured and can be transported for 24-48 hours in such conditions without spoiling. Actually, vacuum-packed Manchego cheese or Iberico ham do not spoil easily and could still be fine after a week stored at room temperature, for example.
When you place your order, especially if your order contains refrigerated goods, you should make sure you can collect it as soon as it reaches the post office or parcel terminal. If we ship your order on Monday, for example, it should be available for collection already on Tuesday. If you choose home delivery, you should make sure you will be available to receive the delivery on the first attempt. Please note that the products ordered will be at your risk from the time they reach the parcel terminal or post office! We will not accept responsibility for any spoiled perishable goods if, for any reason you fail to collect your shipment.
2. What are the differences between Jamón Serrano, Jamón Ibérico, and Jamón Ibérico de Bellota?
There are basically two types of cured hams in Spain: Jamón Serrano and Ibérico. The difference is that they are made from different breeds of pigs. Jamón Serrano comes from the white pig, and Jamón Ibérico comes from the Iberian pig (the breeding of the Iberian pig is restricted to an area in South-western Spain and South-eastern Portugal). The difference in your mouth is that Ibérico tastes so much better than Serrano.
When we talk only about Jamón Ibérico, the diet of the pigs also dictates different levels of quality. The finest ham is Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) along the border between Spain and Portugal. These pigs eat wild grasses, herbs and mostly acorns (Iberian pigs love acorns; each pig can eat up to 10kg of acorns a day). Exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat. Jamón Ibérico (not bellota) comes from Iberian pigs that are fed only wild grasses and grain.
We also sell sliced Paleta Ibérica. Paleta is the front leg of the pig, and Jamón is the rear leg. It is actually very difficult to taste the difference between these two. Some people prefer Paleta and some Jamón. You can try both and tell us your opinion!
3. What does it mean when a Manchego is D.O.P.?
D.O.P. means designation of origin (Denominación de Origen Protegida). The true Manchego cheese is made only from whole milk of the Manchega sheep raised in the "La Mancha" region in Spain.
Nowadays it is quite normal to see Manchego cheeses everywhere. If you want to make sure that you are buying an authentic Manchego cheese, try to find (D.O.P.) on the label or the words "Denominación de Origen Protegida." This does not mean that other cheeses are bad! Many kinds of cheese can be as good as a good Manchego. We offer you semi-cured and cured Manchego D.O.P, and other Manchego-like cheeses equally delicious.
4. How should I serve Manchego cheese and sliced Paleta or Jamón Ibérico?
You should keep our cheeses and meats in the fridge, but they should always be served at room temperature. We normally slice the cheese and let it rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before we serve it. If we are going to serve Jamón Ibérico or some other meat, we can open the vacuum package up to 1-2 hours before. A product that has been vacuum packed for weeks or months needs time to regain its full flavor.
Each of these products come with “how to serve” instructions (in Finnish). We advise you to follow these instructions to get the best out of every serving!
5. I didn’t find what I was looking for, are you going to bring new products?
We are continually thinking about what to bring next! If you are missing something that you would really love to find in our product selection, please let us know. You can send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line “Product Request.” It is much easier for us to know what to bring next when we know what our customers want.
6. I want to buy a product but it is not in stock, how long until you bring more?
We do our best to never run out of stock. But we are a new company with a growing number of customers, and it is really difficult sometimes to predict which product will sell best. We try to import goods from Spain at least once a month, but it varies. If you wish to know when a product will be again available, you can send us an email (email@example.com), and we will tell you right away.
7. Is the registration process complicated? What personal information do you need?
Signing up is really easy; just follow the steps and fill out the registration form. Once your account is ready, you can log in at any time. If your address changes, remember to update it in your El Mercado account, so your delivery does not wind up in the wrong place.
8. Can I order your products to an address outside Finland?
Unfortunately, we are only able to deliver to Finnish addresses at the moment. We are looking into that possibility, and we do not discard selling abroad in the future.
9. I like the website, and everything looks good, but is it really safe to buy food online?
The answer is YES. We know that online grocery shopping is not very popular in Finland (yet). For some reason, it feels ok to buy a pair of jeans that come all the way from the USA but food (even if it comes from Finland)…no way! The question is: Why should I trust El Mercado?
We have all the licenses required by the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) for this kind of business. We tried to make our website from the customer point of view: we want to make it easy for you. Our prices and shipping fees are clear, and there are no “hidden surprises”, you know from the beginning what you are buying, who we are, how to contact us and how the delivery will happen. There are two real persons working in this company, and you can contact us if you need reassurance! And of course, you can always visit our store in Helsinki and meet us personally, and we are here to help you with anything you need.
10. This FAQ did not answer my questions; what do I do?
You can contact us and ask as many questions as you have! Go to our Contact Us page.