Biltong For Dummies

1dirthawker

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Well, I am hoping I figure out how to attach some photos that will go along with this.

When I went to SA the first time I was offered biltong and dryworse as a pre dinner snack. Hmmm, i thought to myself, not too bad. BUT, some of the biltong had fat on it, not for me! I asked a couple of the ph's about the fat and they all smiled and said, yes a nice piece of fat on the biltong is the best.

Oddly enough, before I returned to the good old USA, I became a fan of FAT on the biltong! I also bought 2 kgs of beef biltong that was vacuum sealed and I was assured it would be ok to take thru customs. They were wrong and I passed thru customs as a bitter American, knowing in my heart of hearts that some customs bastard was going to be eating MY biltong that evening!!!

The craving for biltong continued, gnawing at me like a squirrel on a corn cob, so I finally got off my dead ass and spent about a week on youtube researching how to make it, and where to get a biltong maker. I ended up settling on a home made biltong box ( I call it the "Biltonganator 4000) and the Crown National brand of biltong spice that can be purchased from Amazon or Jimmy’s Sauces on line.

THE BOX:
They can be purchased directly from SA already to go.... I decided to make mine.

The biltong box is pretty easily made, a good sized tote from walmart is purchased. About a 1/2" from the top, drill 3/8"ish holes (to put wood dowel hangers in) at matching distances across the narrow width of the tote. On one end near the bottom I put a 3" hole in the box on both sides (I used a hole saw), and placed a PVC plumbing flange in both holes (a filter is place inside the flange, keeps out flies) on the same end of the tote in the center of the end, I drilled a hole in the tote to fit thru a simple light fixture that is held in place with merely a zip tie. (the hole about 1 1/4”) splice an electric cord onto the light fixture and put a 40-60 watt bulb in there and you have a low heat solution for drying ever so slightly the air going thru your biltong.

For the fan on the lid, a computer fan works great. I went to Best Buy and got a computer fan and a small power supply, cut a hole in the lid for the fan to fit over, and mounted the fan to the lid. Now you have a quiet air supply moving air to be drawn thru your biltong. Mount the fan so the air is sucked out of the tote, not pushed into it.

I made small S hooks out of plastic covered paper clips. These hang on the wood dowels that stretch across the tote (I used 5 dowels in mine) also, wrap the dowels in saran wrap, when they get all gunky (and they eventually will) it is easy to re-wrap with clean plastic wrap. Cover the bottom and lower sides with aluminum foil, easy to change out once in a while when you get a build up of drippings.

THE MEAT:
I started using beef eye of round, other parts of the round roasts will do as well. (buy it on sale!) I usually freeze the meat, then slice it when it is 1/2 frozen, I make more uniform slices that way. Cut your meat 3/4" or 1" in thickness ALONG the grain. Make em about the same width. The big reason for uniform meat thickness is to enable you to dry most of the meat uniformly.

THE SEASONING:
The traditional biltong spice is pretty simple, coarse salt (I use kosher salt) and toasted coriander. Simply put coriander in a fry pan and heat it up, it will smoke a bit but just keep shaking the pan, when it is starting to brown a bit, pour the spice into a pan and allow to cool for a few minutes. Throw the seeds in a coffee grinder and grind in up. I One can simply bypass this and use Crown National biltong spice. The final ingredient is vinegar. A malt vinegar is nice, but I also like balsamic vinegar. There are directions on the Crown National spice packet as well.

THE BATH:
A liquid proof tupperwear container or small tote works well as a place for a bath for the meat. Simply, sprinkle vinegar on the bottom of the container then liberally sprinkle spice on the bottom as well. Lay the meat on the vinegar/spice, sprinkle the vinegar on the top of the meat, sprinkle a generous amount of seasoning on the meat, and layer the meat in the same fashion till it is all in the “bath” tote.

Put the “bath tub” into the fridge overnight. My “Biltonginator 4000” will hold between 8-10 lbs of meat when fully loaded. (much depends on how long the meat pieces are)

LOADING THE BILTONG BOX:
I use the paperclip “s” hooks to vertically hang the meat on the wood dowels in the tote. Try to evenly space the meat in the box. Then, place the lid on the box with the fan on the opposite end from the light. Plug in the light, plug in the fan and WALK AWAY!

DRYING THE BILTONG:
3/4 - 1” thick meat usually takes between 3 to 5 days to dry properly. I find the skinnier pieces will dry to my liking in 3 days, the pieces with fat take a little longer, 4-5 days again depending on the thickness of the biltong and how dry you prefer yours. The best part is: YOU CANNOT DO THIS WRONG!! You can repeat and make your biltong nearly exactly the same as the last batch. It takes very little attention when making it, when it is “done” I throw it into a bowl until it is all “done”.

PREPARING AND EATING THE BILTONG:
I always leave some biltong off to the side for immediate consumption. (it would be a shame not to sample the goods!) The rest, that I plan on storing for a while, (biltong never lasts very long) I put into vacuum seal bags, seal them and place in the freezer with the month and year put on with a permanent marker.

The biltong that is for consumption is simply cut in small slices across the grain. This results in the biltong experience that was worth all the work. Actually, once the box is built, making biltong is a very simple, repeatable and extremely tasty pastime.

If you have never eaten biltong, make it. If you have not had it since you were in Africa, MAKE IT! If you are already making it, then this little discussion is not for you. FEAR NOT, you will not get it wrong if you follow these simple directions.

1. Cut meat to the same thickness.
2. Use good seasoning and vinegar you like.
3. Dry it to exactly the way YOU like it.
4. Enjoy the process.

IMG_2360.JPG
 
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Trogon

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@1dirthawker I have a couple questions for your process of the biltong prep, if you don't mind.
What's your ratio of kosher salt and coriander per pound of meat? I've overpowered some meat with salt and seasonings and would hope to avoid that.
What is your yardstick to tell that the meat has been in the dryer long enough to be cured? I've made deer jerky in a dehydrator before and have a feel when it's done versus becoming a dog treat that's too dry.
Thanks in advance for your answers. Just trying to avoid a disaster and have a good product at the end. I have a bit of bison meat I'd like to try your process with.
 

1dirthawker

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@1dirthawker I have a couple questions for your process of the biltong prep,
ratio, I don't use one. i literally sprinkle the meat with salt till its nicely covered, then with coriander till covered (crown national biltong seasoning works too) thats it, no mixing before sprinkling it on.

re: dry enough, like i said, 3 days is a start for thinner pieces. pull a piece out, cut it, eat it and see if it is dry enough. if not, hang it back up and give another day. the nice thing about biltong is that it dries so slowly if is hard to get it wrong.

fear not! just get some vinegar on it, spices and start . it will be pretty great. my attempts with moose are not as good, no fat. and venison seems to dry a little faster.
 

baxterb

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I used to make this stuff here in dry Idaho by stringing kite string across the corner of my kitchen just in front of an open window. Awesome stuff. My wife wont let me do that in our new house so I need to make a box... great write up here - looks deelish!
 

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Place a fan directly on the meat , it will dehydrate quicker. I don’t recommend a light as this will cook the outer layer which will make it tough and taste like mass produced store bought biltong!
 

375 Ruger Fan

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It appears that Biltong mix might have been past it's expiration date. Just to be safe, you shouldn't eat any. Box it all up and send it to me and I will properly dispose of it. :A Whistle:

There is a chance that RSA uses the DD/MM/YYYY convention, it which case the seasoning mix is still good. But as Dirty Harry once said, "Do you feel lucky?"
1614519486883.png
 

Randy F

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@1dirthawker I have a couple questions for your process of the biltong prep, if you don't mind.
What's your ratio of kosher salt and coriander per pound of meat? I've overpowered some meat with salt and seasonings and would hope to avoid that.
What is your yardstick to tell that the meat has been in the dryer long enough to be cured? I've made deer jerky in a dehydrator before and have a feel when it's done versus becoming a dog treat that's too dry.
Thanks in advance for your answers. Just trying to avoid a disaster and have a good product at the end. I have a bit of bison meat I'd like to try your process with.
If venison jerky gets too dry on me, I will put a slice of bread in a ziplock bag with the the jerky overnight. It will generally rehydrate just to the right moisture content. The bread will be like a rock as the jerky will pull the moisture from it.
If that’s not enough just do it again with half a slice. It will recover.
no more dog treats! ;)
 

baxterb

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If venison jerky gets too dry on me, I will put a slice of bread in a ziplock bag with the the jerky overnight. It will generally rehydrate just to the right moisture content. The bread will be like a rock as the jerky will pull the moisture from it.
If that’s not enough just do it again with half a slice. It will recover.
no more dog treats! ;)

This is a great tip. My daughter showed me how to do this with over baked cookies. I was skeptical. Not any more. ,-)
 

1dirthawker

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It appears that Biltong mix might have been past it's expiration date. Just to be safe, you shouldn't eat any. Box it all up and send it to me and I will properly dispose of it. :A Whistle:
funny, but i never even noticed the date.

well, you can rest assured that that particular batch is in the mail to you! :) when i took that photo, it WAS in date.(not that i noticed) however, the batch i made yesterday was not in date. i also ordered another 1kg bag of it so i don't run out. a biltong-less future seems pretty bleak to me.
 

1dirthawker

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Place a fan directly on the meat , it will dehydrate quicker. I don’t recommend a light as this will cook the outer layer which will make it tough and taste like mass produced store bought biltong!
an idea i might try. if you don't like the light on the meat, you can always not plug it in. i will head up now and unplug the light and see how it works, thanks for the tip
 

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