Biltong is a South African dried meat, similar to jerky, but it’s dried at room temperature. It is phenomenally tasty. Here is my guide on making biltong (videos to follow).
- Obtain London broil. Cut broil into strips about an inch thick. Thinner will dry faster, but it shrinks down as it dries.
- Spray or rub meat with a brown vinegar (apple cider is most often recommended)
- Sprinkle coarse salt on all sides of meat (optional sprinkle some coriander and black pepper at the same time)
- Refrigerate overnight; pour off any water that comes out of the meat
- Scrape most of the salt off; add a little more vinegar
- Season with 4 parts coriander to 1 part black pepper (I also put about ½ part salt; you can add other spices to taste)
- Hang meat in a cool, dry place for 4 – 7 days to taste (thicker takes longer; drier takes longer)
- When ready to test, remove meat and cut off a few slices
- Store…hahahaha…okay, just eat.
- Traditionally it is done in the dry season under trees. The purpose of the coriander was to keep flies off the meat.
- Biltong has been eaten as long as fifteen years later with no deleterious effects.
- An air conditioned home is the perfect temp/dryness for making biltong. Alternatively, your garage in January would probably fit the bill.
- To hang the meat, I strung a line with knots tied in it (to keep the meat from sliding and touching each other) across a walk in closet. I used large paper clips as hooks for the meat (boil them if you feel like it, since they will be touching parts of the meat that did not receive the vinegar/salt treatment. If you have a closet with wire shelving, the wire shelving is a perfect place to dry it.
- Alternatively, you can make a biltong box to dry it in: box with a low watt bulb and a fan with dowels in it to hang the meat from. You can make one or buy one. But this raises the temperature slightly because of the bulb.
- Or you can do it in a spare bathroom (the shower bar makes a great rack) but don’t do it if you take showers in the bathrooms as it increases the humidity too much.
- Turning on a fan will help to dry the biltong faster.
- Some people like their biltong drier and some like it wetter. Generally beef is made a little wetter, while game (like elk, antelope) is made drier. You can gauge the dryness by the redness: pinker/redder = wetter; blacker = drier.
- A friend from South Africa says my biltong is pretty spot-on, and some friends who have lived in South Africa say they like my biltong better than what they got in South Africa.
- Your wife may think you are crazy for doing this and worry about bugs in the house. Don’t worry; they are not going near your meat.
- Fun fact: MS Word’s spell check contains the word biltong.
Here are some other videos on making biltong:
This series is the most informative. Unfortunately, it’s not done yet:
In the closet:
In the bathroom:
With a biltong box: