Homemade Biltong!

Discussion in 'Geek Recipes' started by Lem, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    Hi Guys,

    I have received a few requests for more information on homemade biltong, so I'll try help you guys out :)

    What is biltong?
    Biltong is South African dried meat (mainly beef or game) marinated with rock salt, coarse black pepper, coarse ground coriander, and vinegar and then dried. Biltong can be made in long strips with the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces cut across the grain.

    Now way back when I was a wee lad on my fathers farm in the Karoo (South Africa) my mom used to make biltong out of mostly game, and in-between hunting seasons, beef.

    Because Biltong in South Africa is the national snack (Biltong & Beer as opposed to Pretzels & Beer) you can buy a huge variety just about anywhere.

    Here in Australia you can buy Biltong at some South African butcheries in Sydney (African Delights, Springbok Delights + a few others I'm sure) as well as order online from a SA shop in Queensland. The biltong from African Delights is pretty good (As well as their Droe Wors (Dried BoereWors - Dried Beef Sausage) - I haven't tried the online stuff yet. Unfortunately it is a bit expensive though, and for a Biltong addict like me that just bad news!

    OK, So we make our own then :leet:

    Here is a recipe I "borrowed" from a very old SA cookbook. There are many variations of this process, but this covers the basics. Please note that the recipe users 10KG's of meat. I would suggest you start with about 3 - 5 KG's MAX to make sure you 1. Like the result, 2. Don't starve because you spent your weeks food fund on meat that is inedible for some reason :shock:

    I will comment on the changes I made to the recipe in color
    Preparation Time: 3 days (make this 2)

    Hanging Tim: Until Dry (enough to eat)

    Ingredients to Yield 4.25kg

    10kg meat (game, beef or ostrich) (I have not made more than 5KGs at a time - remember you need to have the space to hang all the strips.... I have used the "corned silverside" from Coles (about $8/kg) with good results. Its nice and lean and pretty much "pre-cured". My gran would probably kill me if she found out!)

    625ml (2 and a half cups) brown vinegar

    75g brown sugar (I haven't used sugar at all (Sugar Free Biltong!), but feel free to experiment.

    8ml (1 and quarter teaspoons) ground saltpetre (I read somewhere that this stuff isn't too good for you health wise. Please don't use it, you don't need it.)

    8ml (1 and a half teaspoons) bicarbonate of soda (I don't use this either, mainly because I couldnt find any at my local Coles and cbb to search further, another thing you don't really need, but feel free to add)

    10ml (2 teaspoons) pepper (I use freshly ground black pepper, but "preground" works fine). The better is used to LIGHTLY season (to taste I suppose), and it keeps nasties like flies/cats away.

    45ml (3 tablespoons) whole coriander seeds (You can get this from Coles, whole seeds work better because you need to roast them to get the full flavour effect). This is where you can use ground chillies etc instead of coriander to create different flavours of biltong.

    275g salt (Course rock salt is fine)

    Cut the meat into suitable-sized strips and rub thoroughly with vinegar, ensuring that all the meat is coated. Next, mix the sugar, saltpetre, bicarbonate of soda and pepper, and set aside. Roast the coriander in a pan over a medium heat, remove and mince (or pound in a mortar) until fine. Combine with the sugar mixture.


    (OK you need to cut WITH the grain of the meat, length about 30cm max, width about 4 -5 cm and about 2 -3 cm thick. You will need a decent sharp knife (NON Serrated) for this. Mind your fingers! The thicker the cut, the longer it takes to dry. Some people like thin strips, others like thick chunks. Its up to you - experiment! Remember it WILL shrink while drying (about 50%)

    After the meat is cut rinse it in hot water to wash off any blood etc. "Squeeze" any excess water from the meat.

    Now get some brown vinegar and put it into a mixing bowl. (Enough to "submerge" the meat strips into - one at a time!). Take a strip of meat, dunk it into the vinegar to get it nice and wet, then massage the vinegar into the meat.

    I would suggest starting with "cheapish" meat (see suggestion about Coles corned meat above) until you get the hang of it.

    I don't use saltpetre, sugar or bicarbsoda. Put the coriander seeds (whole) in a pan (no oil) and fry it up. The seeds go a nice brown color and the aroma is fantastic :)



    Place the thicker biltong strips at the bottom of an enamel container, cover with a layer of salt and then a layer of the spice mixture. Repeat the layers until the thin strips are on top, and add a final dressing of salt. Leave for 12 hours. Remove the thinner strips at the top and dip them quickly in hot water.

    (DONT use METAL. Metal + Vinegar + Salt + Meat = Bad. Trust me. I'm using a plastic dish atm, it doesn't pass my grans biltong making approval but I think its fine.

    As the recipe says, but I add the salt + pepper directly to the strips (sprinkle over them to taste). I also add the coriander (or ground chilly) directly to the meat and then massage it in a bit. You could probably just do it in layers, but I prefer to get the meat covered properly. Remember don't use too much pepper or salt. I love alot of coriander, and you can always "brush" any excess spice off when you eat the finished product.

    Put the thicker pieces at the bottom, and the thinner pieces on top. I usually give it about 24 hours before I remove the whole lot - I don't take the thinner ones out after 12 hours/36 etc. 24 Hours is enough!

    After 24 hours dip the strips in hot water as suggested (hot, as in out the tap, not boiling...)


    Dry the strips very well, then hang on S-shaped wire hooks. Take care to hang the pieces of biltong well apart so that the air can circulate between them. After another 12 hours, remove the medium sized biltong treat exactly as before, and hang. After 36 hours the thick portions may be removed and treated and hung.

    I use Carlton towels to dry the biltong. Try not to rub off too much of the spice. I usually add some extra coriander (or chilly) at this point. (most of it comes off in the water and drying phase)

    I have made a wooden box with flyscreen to dry my biltong outside and it has worked very well. However I got lazy one day and just strung a piece of rope underneath the roof of the back veranda and now I dry my biltong there. No fly problems, and it seems to dry faster. I will post pictures of the box if you are keen to make one, but I found hanging the biltong outside under the roof worked well - just like we did back home. Ensure that the biltong stays out of the rain though!

    Buy some wire from Bunnings and bend them into the "S" shape for hooks. Ill post pics of this if needed.

    I have also found using clothesline pegs works a treat to keep the biltong separated (they tend to slide along the wire in the wind and end up on top on each other - not good for drying out).



    The drying time depends on factors such as temperature, air circulation and personal preference.

    Humidity = bad. If you life in a humid climate then you would need to use a fan to keep a steady breeze going over the biltong. You might also want to keep your biltong strips thinner. I have found the only "danger time" when drying is the first day or so - as soon as the biltong gets that nice dark color on the outside you are in the clear! Try to steer clear of rainy/wet days.

    OK, that's about it...I think. I have another batch of biltong to make this weekend, and can take pictures along to way to demonstrate. Ill also do a proper write up of the process and add it here. Please feel free to ask questions or suggest corrections. Quite possibly I have forgotten something :tired:
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  2. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
  3. chrisrv

    chrisrv Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2001
    Messages:
    639
    Location:
    Victoria
    Damn I'm salivating just thinking about this, I think I'll have to have a crack at it this weekend, Thanks for all your personal tips, I'm interested that you have no problem drying it outside, I might not worry so much about making a biltong box :)
     
  4. PostModern

    PostModern Angry Brewer

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    5,076
    Location:
    Woonona, Illawarra, NSW
    Could you please change the blue of your comments to another colour? It is illegible with the sabretooth skin.
     
  5. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    I'm starting the next batch soon, and will post some pics as I go along.

    I used the biltong box a few times, but never again since I just hung them outside under the veranda. Just make sure it is out of reach of any dogs/cats, under cover (rain/dew = bad). The more wind it gets the better.

    Biltong used to be hung from the wagons that the Dutch settlers used to travel across Southern Africa, so hanging from a roof (as my parents do back home) is no problem. The only reason I built the Biltong box is that I found aussie flies to be very persistent little buggers!

    Cheers

    Lem
     
  6. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    Is the red better?
     
  7. khoile

    khoile Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2002
    Messages:
    429
    Location:
    Brisbane
    The red is pretty illegible too :p You need light coloured text for the sabretooth skin, but that doesn't bode well for the ordinary skin :lol:

    Thanks for the tips lem, it's good to know you don't need all the crap they usually mention. I have no idea where to look for salt peter, and it's good to know I can just use coles silverside, since I wouln't know what to look for in the meat dept. either :wired:

    I'll give this ago, I'm living in a place with a little balcony where I've got one of those wire clothes lines. Might try hanging it out there and knock up something with flyscreens, though being winter, maybe it's not needed...
     
  8. badsac

    badsac Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2002
    Messages:
    8,686
    Location:
    Bathurst
    Ooooo. Thanks heaps for that recipe. I love reading recipes for things I've never heard of before. That's what this joint needs more of. And to make those that care more about colour than content happy, how about pink for a colour. Stands out against everything. ;)

    Do you rekon using corned meat would give you better results than just using silverside? Dang I can see myself making some green flyblown mess when I try to make this. My dog'll love it. :p
     
  9. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    Yea, just leave the salpetre out of it totally. I leave that and the b-soda out completely.

    I first used some beef from Coles that has a rind of fat on it. The problem is though that fat does not shrink (at all it seems :/) where as the actual meat will shrink allot. I ended up with some odd-looking biltong strips with oversized pieces of fat all over it and had to endure a torrent of abuse from my mates. Look for the "Extra Lean" ones in Coles, they are pretty cheap and look like a uncut fillet steak. Easy to cut as well. They come shrink wrapped at about $8/kg.

    You are supposed to use A-Grade, prime beef (IE the very expensive kind), but I have found that a bit expensive, not to mention getting a butcher to cut you the right pieces etc. Also the names of the cuts of meat seems to be different here than in SA, so I'm in the process of figuring out which cut is which. A nice big piece of rump will do the trick nicely - just watch the fat.

    Start small and see how it goes. I've got a few chilly pieces at home that are hot as hell! Lesson learnt tho :p

    Cheers

    Lem
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  10. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    To tell you the truth I havent seen any difference. At the end of the day it is up to your own taste, so by all means try both and see which one you like more? The corned silverside (extra lean) is just very convenient for me.

    Pink it is!

    Cheers

    Lem
     
  11. Shalmanese

    Shalmanese Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,160
    Location:
    Seattle
    Bicarbonate of soda is also known as baking soda and should be in the baking isle of the supermarket. In marinades, it acts to tenderise the meat by breaking down the muscle fibre.
     
  12. n000b

    n000b Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,489
    Location:
    Melbourne
    MM I love Biltong, I'm a South African boy too :)

    How long should the meat be hung up for outside?
     
  13. chrisrv

    chrisrv Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2001
    Messages:
    639
    Location:
    Victoria
    Hey Lem, do you think there would be a problem if it is frosty over night while drying the meat outside?
     
  14. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    Thats correct, still couldnt find any at my Local coles tho. Maybe woolies would be a better bet.

    Ive got some premade biltong spice being sent over from South Africa, just hope it makes it through customs! Will let you guys know if its any good.

    Cheers

    Lem
     
  15. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    Hey, I knew I would attract some saffers to this thread :p

    Hanging time depends on many things.

    Firstly how dry/wet do you like to eat your biltong? I like mine moist, while my wife prefers very dry, so she gets to wait an extra day or 2.

    Also the thicker you cut the meat, the longer it takes to dry. If you are in a humid climate it will take longer as well.

    On average mine (in Sydney) dries in about 5 days. I have had one lot take about 10 days - it was raining alot :(

    I usually snack on the first one after 3 days tho... :D quality control ....
     
  16. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    Frosty is probably not as bad as raining/humid, as the air is usually dry when its frosty outside. Just dont let it get wet/rained on/dew etc.

    Trust me guys, it is much simpler than it sounds. When I started I worried endlessly about the meat, not I just hang and forget...for 3 days that is!

    Cheers

    Lem
     
  17. Dismember

    Dismember Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2005
    Messages:
    261
    Location:
    w.t.y.d
    I've been hankering for some dried meat, going down to Woolworths to start a batch right this instance. Thanks for the tips.
     
  18. n000b

    n000b Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,489
    Location:
    Melbourne
    I like mine drier - when it's too wet, even though it tastes basically the same, it reminds me too much of raw meat and puts me off it :p

    So if I made a strip that was 2-3cm in diametre (after drying), how long should it be out for approximately?
     
  19. Lem

    Lem Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Sydney
    The meat shrinks alot while drying - at least 50% I'd say, so work it out from there. If u want it dry and quick just make the pieces thinner. Id say about 7 days for dry tho - thats when the missus eats em.

    Cheers

    Lem
     
  20. n000b

    n000b Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,489
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Thanks mate :D
     

Share This Page