Biltong is a simple, but wonderful food. Basically, it’s dried beef, flavoured with salt, herbs and spices.
It is often confused with Beef Jerky, but they are worlds apart!
Biltong is made using silversides of beef, carefully cut into strips and air-dried in a biltong dryer or if you’re making it at home in a biltong maker.
Other meats, such as fish, chicken, wildebeest, kudu and ostrich can be used but, the best Biltong is made using fresh young beef as the meat is more tender.
Do not use pork to make biltong as the meat is not suitable for air drying.
Biltong has an interesting past and was born out of necessity to survive. When Dutch settlers arrived in South Africa the hot climate made it essential to find a way to store meat without it spoiling.
The resourceful ‘Voortrekkers’ had to find another solution.
They found by adding salt to the meat and hanging it out to dry, allowed the biltong to be stored for a long time.
They experimented with flavours and added spices to the meat. They found as the meat got harder on the outside, the rich flavour was captured on the inside.
They experimented and dried sausages and found similar results, this created DroeWors another South African food sensation.
Biltong has an amazing nutritional content.
Many diets recommend eating biltong. Sports people use it for its protein value.
When you are making biltong in your biltong machine at home, 4 days drying results in medium biltong which is slightly wet.
Leaving your biltong for 5 days’ results in drier biltong which is slightly harder to chew.
You can test this by pressing on the biltong with your forefinger. If it feels firm on the outside but slightly soft on the inside, then it is ‘medium’.
If you press on the outside and it feels firm all the way through, then it is ‘dry’.
The best way to enjoy your biltong is with a biltong cutter. You can slice the biltong to your required thickness and enjoy it.