Biltong For Dummies

Philip Glass

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I made a biltong rack and have made it a few times. I learned how to do it in Africa helping friends a few times. I bought a nice biltong chopper in Namibia a while back along with the braai baskets for making lamb chops and ribs as well. We had a local Jerky Outlet store for a while that had some decent commercial stuff.
Cool post. Makes us all miss Africa!
 

Still alive

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Will I’m going in June on safari! So I thought after reading this, I should make some and try it. Made my box this morning as the meat was in the brown vinegar. Rub the biltong safari rub on it. I’ll let you know in four to six days.

Do I need the light? I’m at 68 to 70 24 hours per day? Thanks

97F151F4-53A3-4533-BA71-725BE851AEA4.jpeg
 
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John Telford

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Another variation is to leave the Biltong hanging for two months until it is so dry you can pulverise it with a few good blows from a hammer. The shards of meat are the. Sprinkled on top of a melted cheese toastie.... perfect on a cold winters night when served with a hearty soup.
 

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Humidity is a big factor in the biltong making process. The light bulb is typically used to raise the temperature a few degrees and thereby lower the humidity in the box.
For the bulb to cook the meat you'd need a high output bulb and a small box - this is not an issue usually.

In SA our winters are normally cool and dry (read low humidity) and historically the time to make biltong, cos this is also the hunting season. Biltong is traditionally made by hanging it in a dry space using natural air flow (flies etc usually being absent in winter). The fan and lightbulb trick has evolved from summer biltong making when humidity is high, and placing the meat in an enclosed vessel to keep insects out. If your ambient humidity is low, then a fan alone is more than adequate - the bulb speeds things up but can lead to over-drying as has been mentioned.

The size of the meat strips and fat content also plays a role - the pieces shown in this thread are quite small, so will dry quickly. If making large pieces of fatty meat, then drying time will be longer and the risk of mould increases, especially if humidity is high. The amount of strips you hang affects air flow too - high density means more moisture to be removed, consider fan and bulb accordingly.
 

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Do I need the light? I’m at 68 to 70 24 hours per day? Thanks
first, nice work on the box!!

re: the light, i tried it without, but it is not dry enough here (humidity wise) and so, it slowed the process a bit, so i turned the light back on.

i did not notice a vent hole on your box, a hole or holes to allow air (bug free air) into the box. gives the air flow needed to properly dry the meat.

good luck, i bet you like it. try a bit as you dry it out and you will find the combination of moisture in the meat you like best.
 
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Velo Dog

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Ladies & Gents,

Yours Truly only lives a short distance from 1dirthawker (lucky him).
I totally vouch for his bolting box engineering and his recipe, simply excellent.
Furthermore, he and his wife both are excellent Cooks in general.
Only a very few days ago, my wife and I dined with Mr. & Mrs. 1dirthawker.
After a very fine supper indeed, my wife tried to convince him and his wife to market some of their recipes, as their kitchen skills, to say the least are impressive.
I agree with my wife’s suggestion.
Turns out they have considered this marketing idea already and are mulling it over.

Any way and as a side note on biltong, almost 20 years ago now, I was introduced to biltong, during my first visit to Africa.
I became an instant biltong junkie.
The PH told me his recipe was nothing more than a little bit of coarse salt, plenty of crushed coriander seeds and white distilled vinegar.
Then the meat strips from various antelope species is strung on wires in a “biltong house”.
This is a wood framed shed but with fine mesh screen for walls and roof, used during the dry season.

Anywhooo, upon returning home to Alaska, I decided to try this recipe as a Braai, aka: BB-Q marinate.
Another high five to 1dirthawker for passing on his good experiences of eating a bit of fat on biltong.
The “biltong marinate” turns out to be less than perfect on the drier “white meat” of chicken.
However, it is quite delicious on the darker / higher fat content parts of the chicken, IE: the drum sticks and thighs.
After soaking these in the spices and vinegar over night (in the refrigerator), I grilled them as anyone would grill any chicken meat.
It turned out quite tasty and not dry at all, if I do say so myself (I’d rather be lucky than good).
More than one or two people have asked me for my recipe, as well as what it is called.
Since I “discovered” biltong and the recipe for same in Namibia (as mentioned, now using it for grilled chicken marinade), I named it “Chicken Namibia”.

No doubt others have been grilling chicken in biltong spice before I was born but, at any rate, it is a pleasant departure from some of our sugary USA style marinades and corn syrup based BB-Q sauces.

Cheers,
Velo Dog.
 
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VertigoBE

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Thanks for the suggestion 1dirthawker!
Now how to convince the gf to venture into this :unsure:
 

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just make some, (its not rocket science) slice it up and give her some. if she likes jerky, she will like biltong. instant "buy in"

Already floated the idea: she is not a fan of dried meat...
 

1dirthawker

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btw,

my last batch of biltong was amazing!! (even with the out of date biltong seasoning!!)
 

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Thanks for the tutorial!

I first tried it here in the states ordered online. It was good. The stuff in Namibia was just a bit better.

Yes, the fat is good.
 

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Look how nasty the ingredients are on that biltong mix. It literally has sand in it!

Here is my biltong flavor regime.

I used apple cider vinegar as I didn't have any wine vinegar, and ended up liking the flavor. I have also used white vinegar, but didn't care for it.

I use a good quality sea salt, pepper, and either dried green chille powder or roasted coriander seeds.

When I lived in Spain and Italy on the sea, I used to hang it an empty room I had with a fan on it.

Here in New Mexico because of the number of bugs we have (scorpions and yellow jackets) I have had bad luck in a biltong box. So I now smoke it at very low heat for 18 hours, something like 135 F, and I use a mild wood like apple. More of a Namibian biltong I guess, of the German tradition.
 

mdwest

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Does the bolting have to hang?

The reason I ask is I have a dehydrator that has a fan... and I can run it with the heat completely off.. or the lowest temp if I turn it on is 130...

It’s big enough for me to do 5 lbs of jerky at a time... but it’s a long rectangle... not tall enough to hang anything in there even if I rigged something up.. but I can lay flat 8 trays that are ventilated full of meat
 

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It seems to like to hang.

I have used food dehydrator trays and a high powered fan, and the same ingredients before and it was a different product. The "hang" seems to help!
 

1dirthawker

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Does the bolting have to hang?

The reason I ask is I have a dehydrator that has a fan... and I can run it with the heat completely off.. or the lowest temp if I turn it on is 130...
mdwest,

a good question that i am not sure on. never tried making horizontal, never seen it made horizontal. i suspect 130 degrees is going to be pretty warm for making the biltong.

i have made jerky before, but my results were always very inconsistent, too salty, too sweet, different texture, too DRY etc. i can make biltong almost exactly the same every time AND can make the small tweaks to change it very easily.

the slow drying time and thick pieces are the two "secrets" to success. if you build a proper biltong box, i suspect it will get more use than your dehydrator box. if you make some in it, let me know how it went, i would definitely learn something.
 

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Will I’m going in June on safari! So I thought after reading this, I should make some and try it. Made my box this morning as the meat was in the brown vinegar. Rub the biltong safari rub on it. I’ll let you know in four to six days.

well, how did your biltong turn out?
 

Still alive

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Been 7 days!! after four days we started to eat/ check. Was good, little on the salty side. Too soft on the inside. Today was perfect!! Great chew, no more salt at all? Humidity was around 40-42% temp was very stable at 68-70. My family loves it, so I’m reporting it was a big hit!!

C3B28438-D6CF-4533-892D-504909F613FB.jpeg
9BBE26C3-B6D0-45B5-A58E-CA029DD314C3.jpeg
 
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1dirthawker

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Been 7 days!! after four days we started to eat/ check. Was good, little on the salty side. Too soft on the inside. Today was perfect!! Great chew, no more salt at all? Humidity was around 40-42% temp was very stable at 68-70. My family loves it, so I’m reporting it was a big hit!!

your biltong looks great, found myself salivating when looking at it! don't be afraid to try some pieces with fat on them, you will become a believer, nice work.
 

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i am in the middle of an experiment with using beef brisket instead of round steak. i am just now putting in the dryer, will get back and give an update of how it ended up. i just thought brisket has lots of fat and might make a superior piece of biltong. will see.

has anyone else used brisket for biltong?
 

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