How biltong is made

Many people ask how biltong is made. And they’re often surprised to find that there’s more to it than simply leaving meat out to dry.

To give you a clearer idea we’re going to give a basic guide on how it’s done.

Step 1 – First up you’ll need to decide on a type of meat. If you’ve read our other blog entries then you’ll know that it can be made from a variety of meats. The most popular is beef. So if it’s your first time, I’d recommend using this.

It’s important to note that the cut, aging and fat content will affect your meat. The more fat, the more likely it is to spoil during the drying process.

Step 2 – Now that you’ve purchased your meat it’s time to prepare it. It needs to be cut into slices. The thicker the slice, the longer it’ll take to dry. Around 20cm in length and 1cm in thickness is ideal. Try and dispose of any gristle on the meat too. It’ll become extremely difficult to chew after the drying process otherwise.

Step 3 – In this step you’ll want to baste and season your meat at the same time. Lay it out on a worktop that has a layer of vinegar on. Then, add your seasoning (that could be anything you want, from coriander to paprika) to the vinegar.

Place your meat onto the worktop and add more basting and seasoning to the top of it. Start rolling the meat into the seasoning and basting.

Step 4 – Once this is done let it marinade for two to four hours in the fridge.

Step 5 – Now it’s time to dry the biltong. For this you’ll ideally have a dry space or a specially constructed biltong maker that keeps unwanted guests like flies out and controls heat. Humidity can ruin your biltong, so a well controlled environment is important.

Drying can take anything from 24 hours to 10 days and so patience is needed here. Taste also comes into play as some prefer the biltong moist, where others prefer it bone dry.

And that’s it! You’ve just learned how to make your very own biltong. Once you’ve nailed the basics you can start to experiment with different meats and seasoning.

Good luck!