A brief history of Biltong

The world biltong is derived from two Dutch words; “Bil” – buttock and “Tong” – strip and has been a part of South African culture for around 400 years. Recently though, it’s started to move west to Europe and America where it’s quickly being accepted as a tasty, savoury snack.

But where has it come from?

A meat product that’s cured to last for long periods without going off there are two common types of biltong: beef & game.

Dutch settlers brought recipes for dried meat over to South Africa in the 17th century. A welcome recipe considering building herds of livestock took time and local game meat couldn’t be stored anywhere without going off. Refrigeration hadn’t yet been invented. And so the need to preserve meat in the new colony was pressing.  Drying the meat to extreme levels seemed to be the only option.

Biltong of today is said to have come from the wagon travellers Voortrekkers who needed stocks of preserved food as they moved from what is now known as Cape Town, north east away from British rule.

The biltong we know and love is made in many different ways using many different types of meat.

What you must be careful to avoid is the confusion between jerky and biltong.

The production and ingredients used are very different. And of course, this alters taste. Thickness usually differs too as biltong often proves to be the thicker of the two.

If you want to try this wonderful snack then we can help. We stock a range of South African foods for you to try today. All you need to do is get in touch!