How To Make Biltong....

Biltong Drying....

Biltong hanging in a biltong box to dry....
Biltong hanging in a biltong box to dry.... | Source

What is Biltong?....

Biltong is a South African snack that is made by coating raw beef, game or ostrich in spices and hanging it up until it has dried. Back in the 17th century Dutch settlers started turning their meat into biltong by curing it with vinegar and spices to help preserve their meat in the African heat. These days South Africans still enjoy their biltong, although it is becoming a bit of a luxury due to the rising prices of meat. Most butchers in South Africa make their own biltong using their own secret blend of spices, so it quite normal to see raw meat hanging out to dry in the back of butchers shops.

When I first saw biltong hanging out to dry, I must admit that the thought of eating a piece of raw dried meat turned my stomach, after all what kept the flies from crawling all over it?

Being someone who tries to keep an open mind about things and never likes to be accused of not trying new things, I felt that I had no choice but to taste some biltong. The fact that I was told that not only do the spices add taste to the meat, but they also serve in keeping the flies away, which made sense to me, certainly helped. Once I'd tried it I was hooked, it makes my mouth water just writing this hub!!

It is so tasty and so typically South African that when we left South Africa to live in Greece it was one of the things we missed, my husband is South African and likes nothing more than an ice cold beer and some biltong....


Biltong dried and ready to eat....

A plate of tasty homemade biltong. You can chew on a stick of biltong or it is more widely eaten in thin slice....
A plate of tasty homemade biltong. You can chew on a stick of biltong or it is more widely eaten in thin slice.... | Source

Could we make our own biltong?We wondered....

The answer was YES!!!....

After doing some research online, we found that we could easily make our own biltong. I can't say that I didn't worry about getting it wrong and ending up poisoning anyone who tried a piece of our biltong. I need not have worried, we lost one batch when we underestimated the winter damp in the shed and the meat went mouldy, but other than that we have enjoyed eating and sharing our own homemade, rather tasty biltong.

A picture guide to making biltong....

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1. Beef cut into strips along the grain....2. Coat the beef in the biltong spices and allow to marinade.3. Stainless steel meat hooks to hang your meat on.4. A strip of beef ready to be hung in the biltong box to dry.5. The biltong box, is where the meat hangs to dry.6. Meat hanging inside the biltong box.7. Biltong ready to eat, you can chew on a chunk of it , although I would recommend cutting it into slices to serve with a cold beer.
1. Beef cut into strips along the grain....
1. Beef cut into strips along the grain.... | Source
2. Coat the beef in the biltong spices and allow to marinade.
2. Coat the beef in the biltong spices and allow to marinade. | Source
3. Stainless steel meat hooks to hang your meat on.
3. Stainless steel meat hooks to hang your meat on. | Source
4. A strip of beef ready to be hung in the biltong box to dry.
4. A strip of beef ready to be hung in the biltong box to dry. | Source
5. The biltong box, is where the meat hangs to dry.
5. The biltong box, is where the meat hangs to dry. | Source
6. Meat hanging inside the biltong box.
6. Meat hanging inside the biltong box. | Source
7. Biltong ready to eat, you can chew on a chunk of it , although I would recommend cutting it into slices to serve with a cold beer.
7. Biltong ready to eat, you can chew on a chunk of it , although I would recommend cutting it into slices to serve with a cold beer. | Source

How we make our biltong....

What you need to make your biltong....

  • Biltong drying box.
  • Stainless steel eat hooks.
  • Beef, cut into long strips along the grain of the meat strips - biltong can also be made using game and ostrich meat too.
  • Vinegar, any type will do - I use red wine vinegar.
  • Biltong spices, you can buy them ready made spices or be adventurous and make your own up. We buy the Lekker Premium Biltong Spice Mix from BiltongBox.

My hub on making your own biltong box....

How to make your biltong....

  1. Cut your beef into inch or two inches thick strips, cutting along the grain of the meat. You may find want to cut it thicker or thinner it is entirely down to personal preference. We like this size, so that when the biltong is sliced, the slices are just the right size to pop into your mouth. (Picture 1)
  2. Spray the meat thoroughly with vinegar, I keep vinegar in a spray bottle for this, if you don't have a spray bottle you could just soak the meat in some vinegar for half an hour or so. The vinegar kills off any bacteria that may create mould during the drying process. Then dry the meat thoroughly with some kitchen paper. Then coat the strips well with your biltong spices, I use around forty grams of biltong spice to half a kilogram of meat. Cover the meat and put in the fridge for eight or more hours, this allows the spices to penetrate into the meat. I usually leaves ours overnight. (Picture 2)
  3. When your meat has been in the fridge for eight hours or more. it is ready to hang. Make sure your meat hooks have been thoroughly washed and dried. (Picture 3)
  4. Push the meat hook through one end of the beef strip, about an inch down the strip, making sure it's secure. (Picture 4)
  5. You then place your strips of beef in a biltong box to dry. The meat must hang freely and not touch any other strips of meat or the side of the box as this can cause the meat to turn mouldy. If we are making biltong during the winter we will use a 100 watt light bulb in the biltong box for the first 24 - 36 hours and then change it for a 60 watt bulb if the air is not too damp. (Picture 5 and 6)
  6. After 24 - 36 hours check your meat, if all is going to plan then there should be no sign of the meat moulding. If there is a whitish residue anywhere on the meat I squirt it lightly with vinegar and gently pat dry, it isn't a problem. White residue is usually caused by the salt in the spices. If for any reason your meat is looking green and smelling foul it has turned rancid and should not be eaten. If you keep the conditions in the box warm and dry you shouldn't have a problem. After four days to a week, depending on how thick your strips of meat are and on how dry you like you biltong, you will have biltong ready to eat!! (Picture 7)

Have you ever made biltong before?

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Handy tips....

  • We turn the light on in the biltong box when we first start to prepare the meat, so that the biltong box is as dry and warm as it can be before we hang the meat to dry.
  • Make sure your biltong box is in a dry place, if the air is too damp your biltong can go mouldy. We have learned that it is better for us to bring our biltong box into the house to dry our biltong during the winter months as the weather here is very damp in the winter. During the summer the weather is dry enough to leave the biltong box in the shed to dry the biltong.
  • In the summer we use a 60 watt light bulb in the biltong box as we find that gives off sufficient heat to dry the meat out slowly. During the winter we find it best to start off with a 100 watt light bulb for the first 24 - 48 hours, depending on the level of dampness in the air, as the stronger bulb gives off more heat and stops the meat moulding whilst it is at it's wettest. After those first crucial hours it is fine to change the light bulb for a 60 watt.
  • Do make sure that the meat strips hang freely and do not touch, we've found that meat touching each other or the side of the box is the main cause of mould. The air must be able to pass freely around the meat allowing it to dry properly.

Now you know how to make your own biltong....

You can experiment with different spices or even try mixing your own....Enjoy....



Copyright © 2012 Debbie Roberts

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Comments 9 comments

rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 4 years ago

An interesting hub although I don't plan to make biltong any time soon.


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece Author

Hi rjsadowski, if you've never tried biltong and get the chance to try it, do. It is really nice whether you make your own or not.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my hub.


Mardi profile image

Mardi 4 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

We make our own beef jerky, which is a similar procedure although there is steady indirect heat (plus we also use a smoker sometimes)that cooks/dries the meat. I would love to try some of the spices on the jerky, may have to get some!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Sounds really interesting, I have heard of Biltong, but never really knew what it meant!


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece Author

Hi Mardi, I've never tried jerky, but it sounds similar to the South African biltong. I would recommend the Lekker premium spice mix, I think it is a nicely balanced spice mix, that doesn't overpower the taste buds, but teases them leaving you wanting more..

Thank you for taking the time to read my hub and commenting.


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece Author

Hi Nell Rose, if you ever get the chance to try biltong you should. Be warned though, it is good stuff!! You could find yourself making your own too.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my hub.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

How unusual -- never heard of this snack or seen it sold anywhere here in Southern California. Don't know if I'm courageous enough to cook it at this point, but it sounds worthwhile. Voting this Up and Useful.


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece Author

Hi alocsin, it's most definitely a true South African nibble, I'd never heard of it before I went out there. If you get the chance to taste some, give it a go as it tastes loads better than you would expect. Well it did to me.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment....


vivz 4 years ago

very Yummy hmm.i tasteD BILT0NG WHEN my fren francis br0ught it here..yumyum.here in philippines we called it kusahos..

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