Biltong

My new favorite dry cured piece of meat, this South African staple is incredibly easy to make and mind boggling delicious! I just can’t stop eating the stuff.

Biltong falls somewhere between American Beef Jerky and Italian Bresaola. I hate to even compare it to the two because truly it stands alone in flavor and texture. Once you taste a piece you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

I’ve broken biltong down into 3 basic steps. Preparing the meat, curing the meat, then drying the meat.

Preparing the Meat

Choosing the right cut of meat is extremely important when making high quality biltong. You can technically use any cut of beef that you want but a very popular choice for biltong is the bottom round (aka silver side), top round is also another popular cut as well.

I personally leave the fat on as I like the extra flavor that it adds as well as the nice mouth feel but since it’s your biltong you can decide for your self. Trim your meat of any silver skin, gristle, or soft fat and cut your steaks WITH THE GRAIN at roughly 2cm thick.

At 2cm thick your biltong will take 4-6 days to finish drying. If you cut your slices too think, you run the risk of developing something called case hardening (where the outside of the meat forms a tough shell that prevents the inside of the meat from drying)

Curing the Meat

Often I hear about how salty biltong can be. In today’s recipe I’ve calculated an equilibrium cure so that your biltong comes out perfect every time. All you have to do in enter the weight of your trimmed biltong steaks in the box that reads “How much do you want to make”. The recipe will adjust accordingly based off of how much meat you have. I will apologize in advance as you will need to enter the weight of your meat in grams (sorry, I like metric for this recipe­čśü)

The cure for this recipe is very simple and I would like to think that it tastes more like a traditional South African Biltong. Feel free to adjust the spices (not the salt or vinegar) if you want to. Some people like to add fennel, brown sugar, paprika, or all spice, so you can have fun with it.

Drying the meat

When it comes time to dry biltong all you have to do is hang it in an area where it’s warm, a little breezy, and low humidity. Basically I shoot for a temperature of 70f-80f and a humidity of 50%-60%. I find that these conditions are perfect for producing a nice biltong that doesn’t dry too fast. Generally I just hang mine in a warm sunny area in my kitchen by a window.

If you don’t have these conditions at home you might want to consider building or buying a biltong box. A biltong box is a very simple box that allows you to control the temp and air flow. It basically consists of a heating element and a small computer fan with a few vent holes. I hope to have a post on how to build one soon­čśë

Once your biltong has lost the appropriate amount of weight, it’s ready to eat!! At 50% weight loss you have a “Wet” biltong and at 70% weight loss you have a “Dry” biltong.

Enjoy the video and the recipe where I take you through the entire process of making South African Biltong. If you have any questions let me know..

Here are a few things you might find useful when making beef Jerky

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5 from 6 votes

Biltong

South Africa's favorite meat snack
Prep Time2 d
dry time5 d
How much do you want to make? 4540 grams

Ingredients

  • 4540 g bottom round or top round trimmed and cut into 2cm thick steaks – with the grain
  • 120 ml red wine vinegar
  • 60 ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 113.5 g salt
  • 34 g pepper corn
  • 68.1 g coriander seed toasted
  • 22.7 g chili flakes optional for heat

Instructions

  • Begin by preparing your meat. Trim off any silver skin, gristle, and soft fat. Cut your meat WITH THE GRAIN into 2cm thick steaks. (I USE THE WIDTH OF MY THUMB TO MEASURE EACH STEAK)
  • Toast the coriander and coarsely grind it up. Coarsely grind the pepper corn and chili flakes as well. Combine the coriander, pepper corn, and pepper flakes into a container.
  • Combine the red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a container and pour half of this mixture In a tray that can fit your meat. Arrange all of your meat on that tray and pour the rest of the red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce mix over the top.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 of your salt over the meat and enough of your coriander spice blend to coat the meat. Turn the meat over and sprinkle the rest of the salt over the meat. HERE I LIKE TO SEPARATE A LITTLE CORRIANDER SPICE BLEND SO I CAN ADD IT AT THE END BUT THIS IS OPTIONAL. Add the remaining coriander spice blend to your meat.
  • Place the meat in a vacuum seal bag (or zip lock bag) ensuring that all of the spices and any liquids from your tray are added as well. Try not to leave anything behind.
  • Vacuum seal the bag or if you are using zip lock bags, just remove as much air as possible and place in your refrigerator for 24-36 hours (massage the bag and flip it every 12 hours-this helps the meat cure evenly).
  • After the meat has finished curing remove it from the bag, weigh each steak, record the weight (and your target weight loss), and place small hooks on each piece of meat. I suggest writing down the actual weight and making your target weight 50% less than that. 50% dryness is considered "wet" biltong. Once your meat has lost 50% you can taste a piece, if you prefer it to be more dry you can let it hand for a few days more. I personally like my biltong somewhere between 55% and 60% weight loss. Sort of a medium dryness. If you like a "dry" biltong you can let it go to 70% dryness. It really just comes down to personal preference
  • If you have some reserve coriander spice blend you can add it to your meat pieces now, lightly sprinkle the spice mix on each side (this will give you a very mice spice crust when your biltong is ready)
  • Hang your biltong in a warm, sunny area with a gently breeze. The ideal temperature should be between 70f and 80f (21.2c – 26.6c) and a humidity between 50% and 60%.
  • Once your biltong has dried to your liking you can vacuum seal them and store in your refrigerator or freezer.

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22 thoughts on “Biltong

  1. Larry Kapigian
    Larry Kapigian

    5 stars
    Love it, been wanting to give this a go , thanks for sharing

  2. Yoav
    Yoav

    5 stars
    Thanks a lot for this great video…

  3. William Bond
    William Bond

    Can you dry in a food dehydrator

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Technically speaking, yes

  4. Harley Craig
    Harley Craig

    5 stars
    Biltong was my first introduction to air dried meats. I highly suggest investing in a biltong cutter if you make very much of it!

    1. Guy
      Guy

      can you say what one please

  5. BARRY JOHNSTONE-ROBERTSON
    BARRY JOHNSTONE-ROBERTSON

    my favourite!!… thanks for this!!

  6. Tom Sobieski
    Tom Sobieski

    5 stars
    I am in Mexico I have the proper temperature but my humidity runs to about 30% would that be okay for drying?

    1. Eric
      Eric

      The humidity is a bit low for biltong but it should work. I would cut my pieces a little thinner (1.5 cm) so they can dry a little faster and more evenly

  7. John Hulsmann
    John Hulsmann

    I loved the video and came to your site to see info on the older video where you might’ve built a simple biltong cabinet and I’m looking to make biltong now! I have these different humidity bags that give and take humidity in a humidor for cigars and keep an equilibrium at set RH%’s. Where do I find any of that info on the older video info?…All I got by searching for “biltong” was the new video linked above. Also, thoughts on using those RH stabilizing bags?

    1. Eric
      Eric

      I am in the middle of making that video as we speak, I hope to have it up soon

  8. Kathy
    Kathy

    Can Biltong be dried in a food dehydrator? I have one I use for jerky

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Yes. The end result will be slightly different but it can work

  9. Mike
    Mike

    How important is the temperature when drying? This time of year, my house runs between about 60 – 65 F? Is that too cool or will it just take a little longer to dry?

    1. Eric
      Eric

      The colder the temp, the longer it will take to dry. You might also run the risk of growing mold on the meat as well. But it could work.

  10. Peter
    Peter

    Can you substitute balsamic vinegar for the red ine vinegar?

    1. Eric
      Eric

      While technically you could, it would radically change the flavor. For more traditional tasting biltong I wouldn’t recommend it.

      1. Omar
        Omar

        What could be used as a substitute for red wine vinegar? Thanks

        1. Eric
          Eric

          Malt vinegar, rice wine vinegar. I wouldn’t use white vinegar or balsamic vinegar. but basically any other vinegar will work

  11. r├ęgis moiraud
    r├ęgis moiraud

    5 stars
    Cette recette est la quintessence des recettes de biltong. Pr├ęcise, ├ęvaluant chaque aspect.
    Bravo et merci.

  12. Is Lavoie
    Is Lavoie

    I cold smoked it after the it was in the marinade for 8h at 10c in the smoker and it taste wonderful if you want to test it. You are very good end the web site is exceptional. Continue your good job.

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