How To Make Biltong (A Step By Step Guide)

How To Make Biltong (A Step By Step Guide)

In this guide from Farmer Bill's Provisions, you'll learn the basic steps and nuances that make biltong a unique culinary delight. 

We cover everything from meat selection and traditional curing methods to drying, ensuring your homemade biltong rivals any store-bought variety. 

Alongside how to make biltong, we'll explore related topics like flavoring techniques and ideal storage practices to keep your biltong perfect. 

Get ready to transform your kitchen into a biltong-making workshop!

Key Takeaways
  • Begin by selecting a lean cut of meat, such as top rump or silverside, and trim off any excess fat to prevent spoilage. Slice the meat into consistent ½-inch thick strips for even drying.
  • Marinate the prepared meat in brown vinegar, coriander seed, black pepper, and salt. Lay flat in a dish for several hours before applying Farmer Bill's Biltong Spice Mix evenly on all sides.
  • Dry the marinated meat strips by hanging them in a cool area with temperatures between 50°F and 60°F (10°C to 15°C) and good airflow to prevent moisture build-up for optimal preservation without cooking the meat.
  • Monitor your biltong regularly during the drying process for any signs of mold. Store it correctly, either vacuum-sealed or wrapped up tightly in paper bags within excellent conditions to maintain freshness and taste.
  • Experiment with different types of meats like venison or ostrich, and try adding creative flavor twists using various spices from Farmer Bill’s Provisions to personalize your biltong experience.

How to Make Biltong

Ready to dive into the art of crafting biltong? Follow this step-by-step - you won't believe how simple making your biltong can be!

Select the Right Cut of Meat

Top rump and silverside are stars in this show, prized for their lean texture and perfect drying properties. 

Look for fresh, aged meat with a decent amount of fat marbling; it'll give your biltong that juicy flavor burst while preserving quickly.

Keep an eye on the fat as you select your cut. Fat can enhance taste and mouthfeel, but remember to trim large chunks before hanging them to avoid spoiling. 

Prepare the Meat (Trimming and Cutting)

Great, you've got your ideal cut of meat in hand. Now, let's dive into prepping it for the best biltong experience.

  1. Lay your meat on a clean cutting board.
  2. Start trimming away silver skin or sinew; these don't dry well and can affect the texture.
  3. Decide on fat – leave a thin layer if you enjoy its flavor, or trim it off if you prefer lean biltong.
  4. Slice the meat with the grain; this ensures long, chewy strips perfect for biltong.
  5. Aim for consistent thickness in each slice (about ½ inch is ideal) for even drying.
  6. Remove large chunks of fat to prevent spoilage and cause hardening during drying.
  7. Keep slices uniform to ensure each piece dries at the same rate and reaches quality standards.
  8. Ensure each trimmed piece has straight edges - ragged pieces dry unevenly and can spoil your batch.

The Marinating Process (Vinegar & Spices)

Now that your meat is trimmed and cut to perfection let's dive into the marinating stage, where vinegar and spices transform it into authentic biltong. 

Marinating is crucial because it infuses the meat with flavor and starts the preservation process.

  • Mix a marinade of brown vinegar, coriander seed, and black pepper. Apply this blend generously over each piece of meat, ensuring every surface is coated.
  • Use just enough salt to enhance the taste without overpowering it. A light sprinkle over the meat pieces will do.
  • Lay the meat flat in a non-reactive dish like glass or stainless steel. This helps avoid any unwanted chemical reactions during marination.
  • Cover each piece evenly with your spice mix. Farmer Bill's Provisions offers a ready-to-use blend perfectly balanced for biltong.
  • Allow your meat to soak in this mixture for a few hours, turning occasionally to ensure both sides marry well with the marinade and spices.
  • Once marinated, drain off excess liquid, but don't rinse. The flavors should cling to the meat for drying.

Apply Biltong Spice Mix

After soaking in the tangy vinegar and spice marinade, it's time to elevate your meat with a biltong spice mix:

  • Coriander Seeds: Coarsely grind them for a fragrant, citrusy note.
  • Cracked Black Pepper: Adds a sharp, spicy kick.
  • Coarse Salt: Use just enough to enhance the meat's natural flavors without dominating.

Sprinkle the robust blend of dry spices evenly across each slice of meat.

Make sure every inch gets a generous coating; this is where that rich, traditional South African savory flavor comes from. 

The magic lies in the mix - coriander seed, cracked black pepper, and just enough salt to enhance taste without overpowering the natural flavors of your selection.

Gently rub the spices into both sides of the meat strips to ensure complete coverage and penetration. 

This crucial step marries intense aroma with your prime cuts for an authentic biltong experience.

Don't rush—take your time to work those seasonings into every crevice.

Apply Biltong Spice Mix

Arrange for Drying (Temperature & Airflow Considerations)

Getting your biltong to dry perfectly is a balancing act between temperature and airflow. You want cool air moving freely around each strip of meat for the best results.

  • Choose a well-ventilated area free from direct sunlight to set up your biltong drying station. Basements, garages, or a spare room can work great if they stay cool.
  • Maintain an optimal temperature range between 71°F and 95°F (22°C and 35°C) to ensure the meat dries without cooking.
  • Avoid high-humidity environments; they can promote mold growth on your biltong. Aim for a relative humidity below 50%.
  • Set up fans to create consistent airflow around the meat. This helps prevent moisture build-up and ensures even drying.
  • Space out your biltong strips when hanging them. They shouldn't touch each other, which allows air to circulate correctly and prevents spots from staying damp.
  • Consider using a biltong box or modified old fridge as a controlled drying environment. Ensure that there's a fan inside to keep the air moving.
  • Regularly check your biltong during the drying process for any signs of mold, especially in corners where airflow might be weaker. Brush off any suspect spots with vinegar immediately.
  • Rotate the hanging position of the meat occasionally, if possible, to address any inconsistent drying due to less-than-ideal circulation conditions.

Monitoring the Drying Process

After you've set up your biltong to dry with the right temperature and airflow, it's time to keep a close eye on the drying process. 

This stage is crucial for achieving that perfect batch of savory biltong.

  • Check the meat daily to ensure proper air circulation around each piece. Sufficient ventilation helps prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to spoilage.
  • Feel the texture of the biltong pieces by pressing them lightly between your fingers. Aim for a firm exterior with some slight give in the center, indicating appropriate dryness.
  • Look out for any signs of mold, especially in more humid climates. If you spot any, promptly wipe down the affected area with vinegar and improve air circulation if possible.
  • Adjust the position of your meat or fan as needed. If some pieces are drying faster than others, rearrange them so all pieces dry evenly.
  • Take note of environmental changes, such as shifts in humidity or temperature; they can affect drying times. Staying alert to these changes helps maintain optimal drying conditions.
  • Use your senses; trust what you see and feel when checking doneness rather than relying strictly on timing since thickness and environment affect drying speed.
  • Evaluate progress by weighing your biltong occasionally. A consistent decrease in weight indicates moisture loss and brings you closer to knowing it's ready.

Testing for Doneness: How to Know When Biltong is Ready

Keeping a watchful eye during the drying process is crucial, but recognizing when your biltong is perfectly done is where the real skill lies. 

Here's how to tell if it's time to stop drying and start enjoying your homemade South African jerky:

  • Give the biltong a gentle squeeze between your fingers. You're looking for firmness with a slight give in the center, not too spongy or rock-hard.
  • Examine the meat's color. The outer layer should appear darkened while the inside remains a rich red or pinkish hue if sliced.
  • Sniff out any off smells. Biltong should have a pleasant, savory aroma, free from any sour or odd scents that could indicate spoilage.
  • Observe the texture closely. The surface should be uniformly dry without dampness; check for moist spots that need more time.
  • Perform a bend test by gently flexing a piece of biltong. It should bend easily without snapping, showing flexibility but also resistance.
  • Trust time, but verify. While recommended drying times are good guidelines, they aren't absolute—environmental factors can alter these periods.

Tips for Biltong Perfection

Dive into the nuances of crafting impeccable biltong with insider tips that elevate your homemade snack to a new echelon of deliciousness – keep reading for those game-changing secrets.

Tips for Biltong Perfection

Choosing Fat Content: Fat On or Fat Off?

Deciding on the fat content for your biltong can be quite the dilemma. 

Some of you might swear by a leaner snack, while others argue that a bit of fat enhances taste and texture. 

The trick lies in striking a balance; leave just enough to enrich the flavor without dominating it.

Trim away large chunks to prevent rancidity during drying, keeping quality at its peak.

Next up is your battle against mold – knowing how to nip it in the bud ensures your biltong remains safe and savory!

Dealing with Mould: Prevention and Solutions

After you've decided whether to leave the fat on or trim it off, turn your focus to mold, a common challenge in biltong making. 

Keeping an eye out for furry invaders is crucial because they love to crash the biltong party, especially when it's humid or hot.

Regular checks are your best defense against mold growth. Spot some unwanted fuzz? 

Don't panic! 

A simple wipe with vinegar can clean up minor outbreaks and keep your delicacy safe.

Mold hates dry, well-ventilated spaces – so that's where your biltong should hang out. 

By storing it this way or wrapping it in a paper bag inside the fridge, you’ll ensure those savory strips stay fresh and tasty.

Remember: vigilance and good airflow are your trusty sidekicks in the battle against mold. Keep these allies close and enjoy perfect biltong every time.

Storage Solutions: Keeping Biltong Fresh and Tasty

Protect your biltong from the villains of spoilage by vacuum-sealing it or wrapping it tightly before refrigeration or freezing. 

This guards against moisture and keeps flavors locked in for longer enjoyment.

If you're worried about mold, check your biltong regularly, especially if humidity sneaks up on you. A quick clean with vinegar can save the day and keep your delicious snack safe.

Store your stash in an excellent spot away from light to preserve its taste and freshness. With these savvy storage tips, you ensure every bite remains as mouthwatering as when first made.

Now let's talk slicing—grab that sharp knife because perfect cuts are next on the agenda!

Slicing Your Biltong: Techniques and Tools

Get ready for the final touch to your biltong-making adventure: slicing. 

You'll want to cut those savory strips precisely, so grab a sharp knife—that's your go-to tool.

Lean into each slice, aiming for consistency in thickness that suits your taste; thin slices are perfect for a delicate chew, whereas thicker cuts offer a more robust experience.

Equipping yourself is critical here. Consider investing in meat hooks and a dedicated biltong slicer if you make batches regularly; these tools can elevate your slicing game immensely.

Always measure out slices using electronic kitchen scales to ensure uniformity—this isn't just about good looks but also about flavor distribution and drying evenness across all biltong pieces.

Now, take those well-crafted slices and get ready to indulge in their rich flavors!

Biltong Variations and Ideas

Explore with biltong craftsmanship and push the boundaries beyond traditional beef. 

You can transform a range of meats into tempting treats, each bursting with unique flavors that will make your taste buds dance.

Biltong Variations and Ideas

Experiment with Different Meats

Venture beyond the usual beef cuts and into the exciting game territory like venison or ostrich; these alternatives can elevate your biltong experience with their rich, distinctive profiles.

Remember, each type of meat brings unique qualities to the table, so be prepared to tweak your curing process and spice blends accordingly. 

It's all about finding that perfect balance that compliments the natural flavors while adding a savory punch.

Get creative in your kitchen by incorporating fish into your biltong-making adventure for an unexpected twist. 

Imagine the surprise and delight of serving a batch of salmon or tuna biltong at your next gathering! 

Just keep an eye on those air-drying times – different meats might need more or less time to reach that ideal biltong chewiness we all love.

Don't be discouraged by experimentation; it could lead you to discover a new favorite way to enjoy this South African snack classic.

Creative Flavor Twists with Farmer Bill's Provisions Spices

Infuse new life into your savory snack by experimenting with unexpected flavors that will enchant your taste buds and add flair to this South African classic.

Mix in a dash of Indian curry or a sprinkle of chili flakes for heat that builds with every bite. 

Stir in Worcestershire sauce for tangy depth, or go bold with peri peri seasoning for an African-inspired kick that will impress at your next braai.

Dare to be different by incorporating brown sugar into the rub, creating a sweet and salty symphony on the palate. 

Now, as you venture further into the art of biltong-making, consider how fat content plays a role.


Now you’ve got the know-how to craft biltong like a pro. 

Take pride as you hang those spiced, savory goodness strips and watch them transform in your drying setup. 

Don't just take our word for it; taste the difference when you bite into that perfectly cured slice.

Making biltong at home may become your next favorite hobby, one delicious piece at a time. 

Remember, with each batch, you're feeding your cravings and joining a centuries-old tradition of meat-curing masters.


What is Biltong?
Biltong is a traditional South African jerky known for its rich flavor. It's made from raw beef seasoned and air-cured over several days.

What Ingredients Are Needed for Biltong?
To make biltong, you need high-quality beef (like silverside or topside), vinegar (preferably red wine or apple cider vinegar), Worcestershire sauce, crushed coriander seeds, black pepper, salt, brown sugar, and baking soda.

How Do You Prepare the Meat for Biltong?
Start by marinating the meat in vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Then, coat it with coriander, pepper, salt, sugar, and baking soda. This spice mix is crucial for flavor.

What's the Best Way to Dry Biltong?
After marinating and seasoning, hang the meat strips in a biltong box or a homemade drying setup for 3-5 days. Ensure consistent airflow and avoid humidity for the best results.

How Long Should Biltong Marinate?
Marinate the seasoned meat in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours for optimal flavor. The longer it marinates, the more flavorful the biltong will be.

Can You Make Biltong with Different Types of Meat?
While beef is traditional, you can also make biltong with other meats like pork. The key is to use high-quality meat for the best flavor.

How Do You Store Biltong?
Once dried, store the biltong in a cool, dry place. It can be kept in a plastic bag or airtight container at room temperature.

What Are Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making Biltong?
Avoid over-drying, as this can make the biltong too hard. Also, ensure the meat is cut evenly for consistent drying.

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