Create your perfect biltong recipe
Origins of biltong
Biltong is a cured and dried meat product that developed in Southern Africa. Traditionally, biltong was air dried in the hot African sun, but modern production now tends to use the more consistent and predictable method of a dehydrator.
The word biltong is Afrikaans and is derived from the Dutch words ‘bil’ (meaning buttock) and ‘tong’ (literally meaning tongue, but also used to mean strip). Biltong today is usually taken to mean long strips of spiced and dried meat.
What are the best meats for biltong?
The most widely used meat for biltong is beef, but you can feel free to experiment. Other popular choices include lamb, game meats like venison, and kangaroo is definitely an option for an Aussie spin on a South African classic.
Similarly to making jerky, the best choices for making biltong are lean cuts as fat can go rancid and ruin your biltong or reduce its shelf life.
One of the most important things when making biltong is to make sure your meat is cut into thin strips. This helps to reduce the drying time. Usually for biltong, long strips of meat are used, with meat cut along the grain, but you can absolutely experiment with cutting across the grain to see which result you prefer.
The other critical thing to remember when making biltong is that the environment must be dry. You’re looking to replicate the dry heat of Southern Africa. Meat and Livestock Australia recommends drying biltong at around 30°C with high air movement. For biltong that is intended for commercial production, the best way to ensure a consistent temperature and safe final product is through a dehydrator where temperature and humidity can be controlled.
Unlike jerky, biltong is usually dried with the meat hanging from hooks rather than flat on trays. When choosing your dehydrator, make sure it can be used in this way if you want a traditional biltong result.
We recommend our '2 Zone / 58 Hook Vertical Rotisserie' - click here to shop now.
Spice up your biltong
Preparing biltong for drying involves marinating in a vinegar South African, combined with salt, sugar and other spices. Coriander is usually considered essential and reflects Southern Africa’s history as being a key stop on the spice routes from Asia.
Biltong provides a great South African for experimenting with different flavours and spicing, with recipes using an array of spices and chillies. In keeping with its South African roots, piri-piri spicing is very popular, as are other chillies. For a more Australian vibe, you could experiment with native spices like pepperberry, wattle seed and bush tomato.