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biltong hanging

Biltong is the South African version of what Americans call jerky: Excepting biltong is savory, not sweet, and it’s much thicker — often moist under a spicy crust, sometimes with a thin rind of fat. The predominant flavours being salt, vinegar and coriander. Here’s how to make your own biltong wherever you are, especially if you’re a needy ex-pat unwilling to smuggle it in …

Ingredients …

  • Round roast* (about 4lb or 2Kg)
  • Vinegar
  • Condiments listed below, medium ground, in a coffee grinder …

1/2 cup whole coriander seeds** 2 tablespoons rock salt (or less if table salt) 1 teaspoon black peppercorns*

*Fresh meat, never frozen. **Don’t use stale spices, get a really fresh supply. You want the strong smell of volatile oils when the seeds are crushed. You can gently toast the seeds in a pan over medium heat to bring out more aroma. You can also add a whole bunch of other spices, but why? Add them to the next batch if you don’t like the egte, basic biltong.   Equipment …

  • Paper towels
  • Cutting board and a sharp knife
  • Vacuum seal, plastic zip lock bags
  • Paper clips for meat hooks
  • Spray bottle (for vinegar)
  • Drying cabinet (well ventilated box with fan and incandescent light)
  • A robust appetite for biltong!


Curing …

  • Pat the meat dry with paper towels (after washing it, if you prefer).
  • Cut into thick slices with the grain — opposite to how you’d normally cut a roast into steaks.
  • The thicker the slice the longer it will take to dry and the softer the inside will be — the way I like it, with a dry spicy crust and moist centre.
  • Drench spray each slice in vingar and pat dry again.
  • Divide up the ground spices and rub equal quantities into each streak.
  • Gently spray with vinegar and bag individual slices. Vacuum seal* (the aim is to keep the spice hard up against the meat, while curing, and not wash it all off in a bath of marinade).
  • Leave to marinade for 24 hours in the fridge.

*Vacuum sealing in individual bags is optional. You can also put all the slices into a single large bag and add more vinegar — turning the bag over every couple of hours during the curing process.


Drying …

  • Day One: Unbag, hook up, hang in the drier, no steaks touching each other or the drier.
  • Days Two & Three: Drench spray each steak with vinegar (check for even drying, ensure that no mold* is growing).
  • Days Four & Five: Check for even drying, squeeze the centre of each slice to estimate when they’re ready to take down. Different thicknesses will require more or less time in the drier. It’s a matter of preference after the third day.

*I’ve never had mold grow. I would likely throw the affected steak out. Other recipes I’ve read say to scrub it off with vinegar.   Enjoying …

  • When done, remove from the drier, unhook, wrap in paper and store in the fridge for another 24 hours to cool and for the distribution of moisture to even out.
  • Do not store in plastic — unless you vacuum seal and freeze it. Biltong must breathe!
  • Cut across the grain into smaller slices, thick or thin (cold or at room temperature).
  • Eat. Enjoy!
  • Compliments to biltong: Port, cheese, fresh slices of apple and grapes or nuts and dried fruit, apricots and figs especially.
  • Rinse your equipment off and repeat.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Biltong for Braai Day! « slappHappe on 20 Sep 2011 at 8:55 pm

    […] Biltong Recipe LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  2. […] 13 gal wastebasket with touch lid 9″ desktop fan (recycled in my example) x2 lamp sockets with 40 watt incandescent light bulbs x2 threaded metal rods with x4 matching lock nuts 1″ stainless steel pipe screens to cover ventilation holes Biltong recipe […]

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