Homemade Biltong Recipe
Like other South Africans, I was introduced to this culinary treasure as a child, and the addiction has stuck. I’ve been making my own for a few years and thought...well, why don't I share my method...BUT first - where did it come from?
The need for food preservation in South Africa was pressing. Building up herds of livestock took a long time, but with game in abundance in South Africa, traditional methods were called upon to preserve the meat of large African animals, such as the eland, in the warm climate. Iceboxes and refrigerators had not been invented yet. Biltong as it is today evolved from the dried meat carried by wagon-travelling Voortrekkers, who needed stocks of durable food as they migrated from the Cape Colony north and north-eastward (away from British rule) into the interior of Southern Africa during the Great Trek. The meat was prepared with vinegar and spices then hung to be air-dried for a fortnight during the winter, when the colder temperatures further inhibited bacterial and fungal growth. Once suitably dried the biltong was ready for packing in cloth bags which allowed air circulation to help prevent mould.
How to dry biltong
A traditional slow dry will deliver a medium cure in about four days. An electric fan-assisted oven set to 40–70 °C (100–160 °F), with the door open a fraction to let out moist air, can dry the meat in approximately four hours. Although oven dried is ready to eat a day or two after preparation, traditional biltong makers still consider slow dried meat to be safer and of superior quality.
Depending on the spices used, a variety of flavours may be produced. Biltong can also be made in colder climates by using an electric lamp to dry the meat, but care must be taken to ventilate, as mould can begin to form on the meat.
Every biltong maker has their own preference on spice mix. If you don’t know what you like, I suggest making a few thinner, quick drying pieces to experiment with.
The most important part is the meat...for the finest cuts, fillet, sirloin, or steaks cut from the hip such as topside or silverside are used. Other cuts can be used, but are not as high in quality.
Safari Brown Spirit Vinegar is produced from the finest alcohol distilled from sugar cane. It has an off-neutral taste and is widely used as a natural acidifying ingredient by food and condiment producers. It is also an economical flavour enhancer when used in home cooking.
Freddie Hirsch supplies most of the 8,000 independent butchers’ shops in SA – we have far more than most other countries, which should be a source of pride and support – and has two standard biltong mixes which can then be jazzed up to make customised biltong.
Worcestershire Sauce adds unique and rich flavours to dishes, sure to enhance any meal and any occasion. A ready-to-consume sauce for application as a condiment in stews or gravies.
- 2kg filet of beef
- 150ml Safari brown vinegar - Click HERE to add to cart
- 50ml Lazenby Worcestershire sauce - Click HERE to add to cart
- Freddy Hirsch Biltong Spice - Click HERE to add to cart
- Cut the beef into strips about 4cm thick.You can get the meat cut for you by a good butcher (needs to be cut along the grain, trimmed for sinew and have no snags holes or cuts which can go bad during the process). Pack the meat into a smallish bowl, so that it fits tightly.
- Add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Leave for 30 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the marinade, but reserve the marinade for later use.
- Add the beef to the bowl of spices, mixing it around until evenly coated. Save any spices that don't stick.
- Leave it covered for 3 hours.
- Remove the beef from the brine and dip it back into the reserved vinegar marinade for another 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the beef to remove as much liquid as possible. Roll in the spices once more. The meat is now ready for hanging.
- Hang your biltong in your biltong cupboard but you can get yours from SomethingFromHome. Don’t let the pieces touch so that the air can circulate freely.
- The meat will lose approximately 40% of its moisture by day 3 and if you like your biltong drier than that, just keep it a bit longer. Then slice and enjoy.
Do you have everything you need to start your biltong making?
We have different options for you:
Click HERE to buy your "Create your own biltong - Ingredients ONLY"
Click HERE to buy you "Create your own biltong - Starter Kit"