Biltong is the South African art of meat drying.. And i say art for a reason. Beef jerky that most of us know is some what "cooked" to be dry. Usually in a dehumidifier and under heat. This helps for 2 things. Speed (drying time), and spoiling (such as fungus or other bacteria). I didnt take as many pics as i would have liked for this, but next time i do a batch ill endeavor to do it. WHATS NEEDED 1: meat. 2: spices (and salt) 3: vinegar 4: drying cabinet or something 5: plastic containers 6: clean towel(s) OK, meat.. You can use most any piece of red meat you can find. The traditonal cuts are rump and neck (forgotten its exact name). You have the choice of getting it pre-cut, or getting a huge ass lump of it and cutting it yourself.. Any butcher will cut if for you, and probably do a better job than you ! What i got was a 2.25kg scotch (rib eye for the yanks) is a rib cut, bit more fatty, but full of flavor ! I also got just over a kilo of rump as its a good meat for this. You MUST ! cut along the grain. You can still cure meat thats normally cut across the grain, but it falls apart while drying and just end up being crap / not consistant as you have too many different muscles in the one piece. With that said.. Prepare your meat by removing as much fat and tendon as possible. Tendon (or "sinew") is the thin white strip that is between muscles and also between the fat and meat layer. This step is important. If you have meat thats along the grain, you can make a small cut at the top, and rip it off.. If its across the grain, you cant. So you manually have to cut it.. VERY time consuming and a bit wasteful. And have a DAMN sharp knife. It will save you much sweat. Click to view full size! Vinegar.. This does 2 things.. Disolve the sinew and open the meats pours up. Theres several ways you can do this, ill discribe them all at the end.. So please stay with me The more tendon / sinew you can remove, the LESS time needed in the vinegar. Some ppl use 1/3 white raw vinegar, 2/3 hot water, some use straight cold wine over night in the fridge. The point here is to soak the meat to loosen it up a bit to aid moisture to escape, but you can treat it to accept some flavor, but id STRONGLY suggest not trying wine.. Get a base line of what you like first.. Its much like brewing beer.. Build up over time. I used a malt vinegar and let them sit for 30mins, and lightly washed them in HOT water under the tap, just to get most of the goop off. This helps it keep some of the flavor in, and my soaking it for 30mins instead of "washing" them clean (some say no more than 5mins), vinegar is left inside the meat, which REALLY helps fight off any possible mold / fungus later on. Click to view full size! Click to view full size! Once your meat has been treated, you need to wash it clean and dry it. Use a new clean tea-towel or something that the wife wont bitch about. As long as its clean. Pat it dry in the towels. Have a bunch of plastic containers ready. Old ice cream containers will work a treat. Make sure they all seal. Even a bunch of old take away containers are great. Place the meat in, not over lapping or touching, cover the whole lot with rock salt. Turn the pieces over so they have a good share covering it. Some sites / people will recommend you use a bed of salt, you literally bury it. This will REALLY help, but unless you love salty biltong, id suggest against it. The salt is a de-hydrater. All it does is pull moisture out of the meat. More salt = faster drying. Because the modern world has this wonderful invention called "houses" and "fridges" the chances of bugs and germs getting in is almost nil. Remember that this was done over 400 years ago in dirt.. Thus, LOTS of salt. Drying time can take from 4hrs to 24hrs. Depending on the salt. Its no crime to have hardly any salt and let it take longer, but your meat will come out a bit tougher. More salt helps the meat cure "moister" to some extent. Again, its about experimenting whats right for you. I personally have ~1 heaped table spoon per big steak.. thats about 750g worth of steak.. So its a fairly large piece. Make sure all your containers seal, as the juice is escaping will make your fridge smell funky. You will get a fair bit of juice run off. So keep an eye on it and if required, pour it out. It might be fairly thick, or it could be runny like water.. Depends how you washed and dried your meat. I left mine for about 16hrs. Biltong spice. This is where you have to choose what you like. Base idea: ground Coriander Seeds, rock salt, bi-carb soda. The rest is up to you. 500g coriander, big table spoon of bicarb (this stops fungus but wont effect taste at all) and rocksalt.. prolly half a cup almost. Mix to your preference. I also added bbq roasted Paprika (38g bottle) and a mild bbq spice (35g bottle). Mix well.. Bingo, you just made Biltong spice. You can use most anything.. Chilli powder, pepper corns, hell, cinnamon if thats your thing.. DONT TASTE IT !! it will taste like ass. Put the Coriander in a bowl or microwave safe thing, heat it up so its quite warm.. THEN mix everything together, and only after your meat has been washed and dried again. I should note that when i put in the fridge with salt, i put some spice onto the meat.. Like a light dusting. Helps with flavor absorption. This isnt required.. Experiment with 2 batches, see which one you prefer. If you use straight salt, you can probably get away with just drying and coating with spice. Mine tends to have a goo at the bottom.. Just a mix of the vinegar and the spice mix.. Thats the only reason i give them a quick wash. Once patted dry, mix the hot coriander with the rest of your mix and coat each piece. A flat tray does this well.. Sorta like battering fish almost. You could put them into a big bowl and mix them around, but theres no guarantee you will get an even coating, and the salt tends to no stick properly.. Again, find what works best for you. Click to view full size! Your ready to hand your meat. Paper clips work fantastically for this. 55c got me a box of 100, which i used about 25 for this lot.. almost 3.5kg total. hang your meat, DONT let them touch each other, and bingo.. your all set. You have a few options here too. Cool dark and dry is perfect. You dont want direct sunlight as it can dry on one spot more than the other, and it REALLY dries it fast. Thats not a problem really, just something to note. Click to view full size! The longer you can dry it for, the more spice it absorbs. Expect 3 to 7 days, upwards of 10 in some cases.. No big deal. You do want a nice breeze though. My setup has a light to stop fungus growing, and 2 fly-screen mesh sides to allow ample air movement. Some people even put small fans either inside the dryer, or a desk fan outside blowing across to aid air movement which helps the drying and consistency of the dry / flavor. A 120mm slow rpm fan or a 80mm fan would do great if thats whats needed. Once again, its ALL personal and what works for you. Ive read that some people use a card board box with a few hole poked into the top and bottom and let convection do its thing.. Dark, not much air, but supposedly produced great product.. Its all different for every person. You can make a box fairly easily out of a old computer case im guessing. 1kg of meat would fix inside it.. few red LEDs and a slow case fan. Bingo. Oh, make sure you gut the thing first.. and tape up any big holes or apply some filters. Know the foam sheet that mobos come on in the box ? ive used that as filter sheet before, worked DAMN well. so use your head. Ive seen a clothes horse with a huge sheet of fly screen over it and some clips to secure it. Please note that the first few days, when most of the moisture comes out, has quite a funky smell. So try not to do it in doors, else do it in a room you wont use for 2 or 3 days.. After that its fine. Summary is this.. -Get some meat -wash it with vinegar (straight or mixed, i use straight malt personally), let it sit for 5mins to 1hr (i let sit for 30mins), -put it in PLASTIC containers with salt to dry in the fridge (i wash lightly before i do that in HOT water) metal trays + vinegar + salt.. guess the result. -scrape meat clean or wash meat lightly. -dust with your spice -hang up for a few days till its dry enough to bend and not be "mushy". Dry longer for a "mature" flavor. It will almost break when you bend it. Your spice should be... -200g Ground Coriander Seeds -1 teaspoon bi-carb soda -rock salt to "visual flavor". thats ok for 1kg meat. Also add some praprika (15g or about half a bottle of those masterfoods things you see) any anything else you wanna throw in. Try to restrict it to about 2 or possibly 3 and your set. Say a hot paprika and some chilli seeds, or roasted pepper corns and half a bottle of steak seasoning,, etc..