If you want to master how to make biltong at home, you need to understand the two key steps in this process. Biltong is made by curing and drying your meat, with a blend of special Southern African spices.
When it comes to flavour, biltong packs a bigger and more savoury punch than American beef jerky. The two key ingredients that create this classic taste of biltong are the meat and coriander seeds. Yes, there are other important ingredients. But these two key ingredients form the backbone of great-tasting biltong.
How to make biltong, the best recipe
WE LOVE BILTONG. In fact, we love it SO much we thought it would be handy to create an ultimate biltong guide highlighting everything you need to know about this much loved South African meaty snack. In our guide, we highlight 3 of our favourite authentic biltong recipes.
Like most recipes, there is no single best biltong recipe. If you want to know how to make biltong at home, the best thing to do is experiment with a few different recipes and add your own twist. Here is our Lekker Bru biltong recipe.
How long do you leave biltong in vinegar?
To make biltong at home you need time and patience, the actual process is quick but the wait is long. As you’ll see in most biltong recipes vinegar is an essential part of the process. It helps cure the meat by killing bacteria, along with the addition of salt to help prevent its re-growth.
Marinading your biltong meat in the fridge is an essential part of the process, to cure and tenderise your meat. Cover the meat and let it cure for 12-24 hours in the fridge, turning the meat once or twice. This curing process is where the lekker magic happens!
What is the best meat to make biltong?
Biltong is mostly made from beef because it’s widespread and easy to get from any butcher. The best beef for biltong is the finest cuts – fillet, sirloin, or steaks cut from the hip such as topside or silverside. Other cheaper cuts can be used, but the results can end up being chewier and not that kiff.
If you want to make biltong at home, for the very best results use fresh meat of the highest quality. If it’s air hung even better! Check out this blog for more info.
At what temperature do you dry biltong?
Biltong should be dried at low a temperature of around 25–30 °C, you can use higher temperatures but we advise against this because you end up slow cooking your meat.
Food dehydrator dryers are very frequently used are handy in keeping your temperature at a constant setting but some of the smaller cheaper ones don’t allow for enough airflow and this is critical to make your biltong outcome successful.
How do you air dry biltong naturally vs a dehydrator?
If you want to make biltong at home you have two drying options.
Using a food dehydrator helps you dry your biltong fast because it can operate at quite high temperatures 30°C to 90°C emulating a low heat oven at it’s highest. While this can be handy for drying some foods fast, this does not work well for biltong. Anything over 40°C – 50°C and you are slow cooking, you DO NOT WANT THIS!
Food dehydrators can give you great results, sometimes even better than a biltong box dryer but it’s really important you set your dehydrators to the correct temperature…(see blog for more info)
For larger slabs of meat (1cm to 2cm) the biltong box is far better because it accommodates larger pieces of meat allowing for better airflow between them and with thicker pieces you tend to end up with a more moist biltong at the end.
The main down side of air dring biltong naturally over a dehydrator is that is take longer, but longer is better…i promise you!
How to store biltong and keep mould away
How to make biltong is one thing, keeping mould away is another challenge!
Fresh biltong is at its best within 5 days of opening or making. If you know how to make biltong, you may already know how to store it. A large unsliced slab of biltong will keep the moisture locked in and will typically last longer than sliced which will have more area exposed to lose moisture.
The GOLDEN rule. Never store Biltong in plastic, the moisture will be trapped and make it mouldy. If your biltong starts to show early signs of mould, do not through it away. In most cases this is not harmful bacteria and if you catch it early enough you can save it from the bin.
Check out this blog for 5 essential biltong storage tips.
Biltong FAQ, help!
Poor tasting biltong is usually too salty, acidic or even sweet. Kiff tasting Biltong should be well balanced with its spices and acidity, never too sweet and have that clear punch of roasted coriander seeds cutting though.
A good biltong taste should be well balanced. The pH of biltong should range between 4.8 and 5.9, not that you need to measure it but if 7 is neutral then it should be just slightly on the acidic side. Find out more in this blog.