How to Choose the Best Meat for Biltong

How to Choose the Best Meat for Biltong?

Choosing the best meat for biltong can leave you scratching your head in the middle of the meat aisle. 

Biltong, a South African treasure, hinges on using quality cuts for its renowned taste and texture.

In this post, we'll carve out simple steps to pick prime cuts that'll quickly turn into mouth-watering snacks. 

Stay tuned; your perfect batch awaits!

Key Takeaways
  • Pick silverside beef, topside, or rump for the best biltong, as they are lean and have a fine texture that absorbs spices well. Slice these cuts 1cm thick along the grain for even drying and optimal taste.
  • Use meat from grass-fed animals for richer flavor and higher nutrient content. Fat marbling is good, but trim excess fat to prevent spoilage and maintain shelf life.
  • Prepare meat slices uniformly to ensure proper airflow during drying, using sharp knives for clean cuts. Recognize perfectly dried biltong by its firm feel; it should crack slightly when bent but not break.
  • To enjoy fresh biltong at home, consider the animal’s diet, cut of meat, fat content, and preparation techniques before making this savory South African delicacy.
  • Choose Farmer Bill's Premium American-made Biltong for a high-quality snack that combines traditional South African methods, sustainable farming practices, and delicious, spice-laden flavors.

Selecting the Best Meat for Biltong

Choosing the right meat for biltong isn't just about taste; it's a craft that hinges on selecting quality cuts. 

Dive into texture, flavor, and tenderness nuances to transform your protein pick into an unforgettable South African treat.

Ideal Cuts for Biltong

Picking the perfect cut of meat is essential for biltong. 

Your choice determines your final product's flavor, tenderness, and overall quality. Here's how to pick the ideal cuts:

  • Silverside beef, renowned for its leanness, is your go-to option. Slice it along the grain into 1cm thick pieces to ensure each bite is chewy and tasteful.
  • Eye for marbling; best cuts have a slight fat marbling. This kind yields tender biltong with a rich flavor profile. Aim for slices that are 1cm thick and 50mm wide.
  • Topside or rump offers you great alternatives. These cuts are known for their delicate texture and robust flavor, which stand out in biltong.
  • Stick with traditional cuts when possible, as they preserve authentic biltong flavors enjoyed for generations.
  • Consider venison if you're looking to experiment. It's leaner than beef but offers a unique gamey twist that can elevate your biltong experience.

Factors Influencing Meat Quality

The quality of your biltong hinges on the meat you choose, with factors like the animal's diet, how it was raised, and its overall health playing pivotal roles.

Grass-fed options often offer a richer flavor profile and are healthier due to their higher nutrient and vitamin content.

Prioritize meat from sources that embrace regenerative agriculture practices; this supports sustainable farming and typically yields fresher cuts with superior taste.

Pay close attention to how the meat is processed before it lands in your kitchen. 

Meat that’s been air-dried or properly cured tends to be more appealing for biltong making since these methods can enhance texture and flavor.

Always opt for high-quality cuts such as silverside beef, topside, or rump, ensuring they're sliced with the grain as recommended for an authentic chewier snack. 

After selecting prime meat, master preparation techniques that bring out the best in your biltong.

The Role of Fat in Biltong Flavor and Texture

Fat is more than just a flavor enhancer in biltong; it's a key player in defining the snack's satisfying texture. 

Your decision on keeping or trimming fat can dramatically alter your biltong experience, from taste to mouthfeel.

The Role of Fat in Biltong Flavor and Texture

Fat on or Fat off? Making the Choice

Leaving the fat on your biltong may add a rich flavor and tender texture, but it's not without quirks. 

Fat doesn't dry out like muscle does, so parts of your biltong feel different than others.

It’s all about what tingles your taste buds – go for full-flavored fattiness or lean into less greasy bites.

Consider how you store your biltong, too; that choice between fatty or lean can affect its shelf life. Getting rid of excess fat means fewer worries about mold in hot or damp conditions.

But if you love the juicy taste of fat, just keep an eye out for any signs of spoilage – take care by trimming any off-color bits and wiping it with vinegar to keep it fresh and tasty.

Preparing the Meat (Cuts & Techniques)

Preparing your meat correctly is vital to achieving that perfect biltong chewiness and taste; dive deeper with us for the secrets to slicing success.

Slicing Methods for Optimal Drying

Cut your silverside beef along the grain. Aim for slices about 1cm thick to ensure even drying and consistent flavor. 

This thickness strikes the perfect balance – it's not too thin to lose the succulence or too thick, risking under-dried meat that might spoil.

Marbled cuts bring out a richer taste, so select meat with fine streaks of fat if you're after a burst of flavor in every bite.

Lay your slices flat on a clean surface and work efficiently as you slice them into strips approximately 50mm wide. 

Uniformity is critical for optimal airflow around each piece during drying, translating into delicious biltong ready for snacking or adding to dishes.

Remember to keep your hands clean and use sharp knives; this will help preserve the quality of the meat throughout preparation before it hits the drying rack.

Recognizing When Biltong Is Perfectly Dried

After slicing your meat with precision for optimal drying, the next crucial step is determining when your biltong has reached perfection. 

Check for a firm texture throughout the meat; it should give slightly under pressure but not feel soft or squishy.

You know you've hit the sweet spot if you bend a piece and it cracks without breaking.

Look for any white spots on your biltong, as these could be signs of mold growth due to excess moisture. 

Swiftly clean off suspicious areas using vinegar mixed with salt to ensure safe consumption and maintain flavor quality.

Trusting your senses is vital: Your biltong should smell tantalizingly rich and savory, not sour or off-putting. 

With these tips, savor each bite, knowing you’ve crafted dried excellence.

Farmer Bill's Premium American-made Biltong

Farmer Bill's Premium American-made Biltong harnesses traditional South African techniques with a touch of American flair. 

This gourmet snack stands out for its unique taste and high-quality ingredients.

Farmer Bill focuses on silverside beef, known for its lean texture, perfect for biltong.

Aimed at meat lovers and those who support regenerative farming, the brand commits to sustainability in sourcing.

The beef undergoes careful selection, ensuring only premium quality makes it into every batch.

A blend of spices, including coriander, black peppercorns, brown sugar, and salt, brings out robust flavors reminiscent of the South African plains but with an American twist.

Each serving is delicious and nourishing and high in nutrients like protein and vitamins.

Vacuum-sealed packaging ensures your biltong arrives fresh and retains its flavor whether you store it in the pantry or take it on the go.

Farmer Bill's Premium American-made Biltong


Ready to dive into the world of biltong-making? 

Remember, selecting high-quality meat is your first step toward savory success. Whether you go for beef or game, make sure it's fresh and has just the right amount of fat.

Cut with care, marinate with mastery, and dry with dedication for that perfect bite. Your kitchen will transform prime cuts into a delicious South African tradition. 

Happy crafting your homemade biltong!


What is the Best Cut of Beef for Making biltong? 
The best cut of beef for making biltong is the round cut, notably the top round roast. This cut is known for its tenderness and is ideal for biltong.

Are There Specific Beef Cuts Recommended for Biltong?
Yes, there are three recommended round cuts for biltong: top round (also known as topside or London Broil), eye of round, and bottom round (also known as silverside). The top round is the most tender, followed by the eye of the round and bottom round.

Can I use prepackaged meat to Make Biltong?
Yes, you can use prepackaged roasts for making biltong. They are suitable for cutting into long strips along the grain, which is preferred for biltong.

What makes top-round roast ideal for Biltong?
Top round roast is ideal for biltong due to its tenderness and the ease of cutting it into long strips with the grain, which is essential for traditional biltong preparation.

Is Beef the Only Meat Used for Biltong?
While beef, particularly the round cuts, is the most widely used meat for biltong, traditional biltong can also include a variety of dried, cured meats such as game, ostrich, or kudu.

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