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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 01-02-2014, 08:52 PM   #1
Jorge400
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Default Biltong (South African jerky)

I've seen some theads on here about jerky and thought I would share how I make biltong. Biltong is similar to jerky that is popular in southern Africa. The main difference in biltong and our jerky is the main spice (coriander) and the lack of any heat in the drying process.

With a little advice from some South African friends and a little internet research, I built my own biltong box and started making biltong.



I built my box out of a single sheet of 3/4" plywood. The interior has two compartments. The lower compartment houses a light bulb and has vent holes on the side and the board the separates the upper and lower compartment. The light bulb helps dry the air circulating up through the box and adds very, very little heat.



The upper compartment is where I hang the meat. At first I had vent holes in this section too and just allowed the air to convect upwards from the lower compartment to the upper; however, I added a computer exhaust fan in the top of the box and ended up covering up the holes in the top of the box.



I make my biltong in the colder months due to the lower humidity levels here in the South. The unfinished part of my basement is dry and cool so that is where I have my box. As you can see, the temps in the room are in the high 60s and humidity is about 55%.



Inside the box, the light bulb brings the temps up slightly and drops the humidity down below 50%.



In Africa they make biltong from a wide variety of meats. There I've had meat from beef to zebra and dried sausage made from who knows what. I've tried using whitetail with not much luck so I stick to beef. Lately I have been using a whole eye of the round but I have also used flank steak and london broil.



Biltong can be made with a number of different spices but the most common in my opinion are coriander and black pepper. The main ingredients I use are coriander, black pepper and cayenne. Coarse sea or kosher salt and vinegar are also needed in the process.

I start by timming most of the fat off the roast (some like to keep a fair bit of fat) and cutting the meat with the grain into strips about 1" x 1/2" and covering them lightly in salt. I then put it back in the refrigerator for an hour. This will help draw out some moisture and add a salty flavor.



After an hour, I scrape off most all the salt. This is very important or it will be far too salty. I then brush each side with a very light coat of vinegar and add cayenne, black pepper and coriander in that order and increasing amounts of each. I then hang the strips in the box with the thickest end at the top. Be sure they are not touching. Close the box and turn the fan and light.



Depending on the humidity level, it typically takes between 3 and 5 days to cure to the level I like. Unless you cut them all uniform, they won't all be cured to the same degree at the same time.



This is where personal preference comes in. Some like it a "wet", which means a bit raw on the inside. I take it out when the strips are pretty hard and not spongy when I squeeze the thickest part. These strips had been in for about 3.5 days.



I make several batches during the winter and having a biltong cutter comes in handy.



Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.

George
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Unread 01-02-2014, 08:56 PM   #2
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Very cool. Thanks for posting looks great. On my to do list.
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Unread 01-02-2014, 09:11 PM   #3
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Interesting cutting device you've got there.
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Unread 01-02-2014, 09:21 PM   #4
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Good looking biltong!
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Unread 01-02-2014, 09:51 PM   #5
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Great post. Thanks for sharing. Now I'm hungry for some biltong.
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Unread 01-02-2014, 10:25 PM   #6
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Looks good! Now, if you can just get ahold of some springbok, you'll really be in business...I spent about a month in South Africa around a lifetime ago and almost all of the biltong we ate was made from springbok...and it was really good
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Unread 01-02-2014, 11:42 PM   #7
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Thanks Jorge400 I've been looking to try my hand at biltong. My one question is why no one uses a commercial dehydrator? Is it a tradition thing or will it affect the flavor or texture?
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Unread 01-03-2014, 07:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hankdad1 View Post
Thanks Jorge400 I've been looking to try my hand at biltong. My one question is why no one uses a commercial dehydrator? Is it a tradition thing or will it affect the flavor or texture?
Hankdad,

I think it is a little of both. It is certainly traditional not to use heat, but I find jerky to be just a little tougher on the outside. That could be in the way it is prepared though. Now that I have learned how to make it this way, it is my preferance.

George
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Unread 01-03-2014, 07:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fantomlord View Post
Looks good! Now, if you can just get ahold of some springbok, you'll really be in business...I spent about a month in South Africa around a lifetime ago and almost all of the biltong we ate was made from springbok...and it was really good
That would be great huh? Sprinkbok is popular along with kudu. Friends we stayed with in Namibia would make it out of hartebeest and zebra as well. The last time I was in Africa was in Zambia and we were hunting lechwe out of a makeshift camp we set up in the middle of nowhere. When the first lechwe was killed the PH ordered the cook to slice the backstrap into strips, crush up some coriander seeds and make it into biltong. He simply slung the strips over some bushes on the edge of camp and we were eating it within a few days.
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Unread 01-03-2014, 07:54 AM   #10
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That looks really good.
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Unread 01-03-2014, 08:51 AM   #11
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Do you keep it in the frig?

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Unread 01-03-2014, 10:20 AM   #12
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Thast looks and sounds really interesting Thanks
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Unread 01-03-2014, 06:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rib runners View Post
Do you keep it in the frig?

Ron
I generally keep what I will eat over the next week or so in a zip lock bag on the counter so it won't dry out further. Any surplus I put in the freezer.
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