GUIDELINES AND TIPS
For making Biltong in a Home Biltong Maker
Biltong Making is a rich inheritance from our pioneering forefathers and is as traditionally South African as Boerewors, Braaivleis and Sunny Skies.
Throughout the ages many different marinades have been lovingly concocted for slices of beef or venison to draw their own brine for various periods of time, and then hung out to dry – with the proud creators each proclaiming the ultimate taste sensation in perfect Biltong!
The truth of the matter is that Biltong, as with any food, is subject to the verdict of personal taste, which varies from individual to individual. Some like it wet and fatty, others dry and lean; some prefer it well peppered with lots of coriander and other spices while others prefer it with a more delicate piquancy.
This is where your Home Biltong Maker comes into its full right! No matter which marinade you use for a batch of Biltong, at the end of the marinating period, more dry spice of your choice may always be sprinkled on a portion of the batch before hanging it to dry in the machine. In this manner you will cater for taste preferences. For those who prefer a drier Biltong, simply cut some pieces a bit thinner than others – they will dry more quickly and, in a couple of days your family and friends will enjoy Biltong, catering to each individual taste! Have a look at the different recipes on our web site at
Biltong Recipes page.
Making your own Biltong is becoming increasingly popular, not only in South Africa but especially by South Africans living overseas where Biltong is difficult to obtain and usually of poor quality and prohibitively expensive.
Making your own Biltong:
- Saves money
- Caters for personal tastes and textures
- With a Home Biltong Maker is as easy as 1-2-3!
- Just follow these simple instructions:
- Slice the meat into suitable strips and sprinkle with Biltong spice or marinate it in a brine of your choice.
- Pat thoroughly dry with kitchen paper towel and hang the strips in the Biltong Maker.
- Cover with the lid, switch on and wait for about 3-4 days depending on how thick the meat is sliced and how wet or dry you prefer your end product.
GUIDELINES AND TIPS
It is wise to bear in mind that when you buy a stove you do not automatically qualify to be a chef, nor do you automatically qualify as a barbecue master when you purchase a new barbecue.
These appliances merely provide heat and flame. It is up to the skill of the individual to use these appliances in order to create their masterpieces. The same principle applies to your Biltong Maker. It is an appliance that dries meat rapidly and hygienically. The quality of the Biltong, at the end of the day, will depend on the care and the flair that you, the individual, put into the process.
Traditionally, either a dry spice mix can be used to sprinkle over the meat, or it can be soaked in brine for a period of time before hanging. The following are some pointers to ensure that, no matter which process you use, a perfect batch of Biltong is forthcoming every time. All the recipes on our web site (www.biltongmakers.com) cater for 2kg batches except for the QUICK BILTONG recipe where only one kilogram is used. The reason for this is that the less meat you hang per batch, the quicker it dries.
Bear this in mind when you want your Biltong to dry faster. For larger batches simply multiply the quantities. It is of critical importance NOT to hang wet, dripping meat. Neither in a Biltong maker or any other place. It will make a mess and definitely attract insects such as flies.
In certain types of Biltong Makers it may also drip onto critical electrical parts. ALWAYS dry the meat thoroughly with kitchen paper towel before hanging it.
The second critical point is never to crowd your machine with too much meat. Each piece MUST hang freely, not touching each other nor the sides of the machine. Meat not hanging freely will not dry properly and, worse still, can become mouldy, especially in humid areas. (See below)
Biltong can be made from virtually any meat or venison but remember – the better the cut and grade of the meat, the better the Biltong. Topside or Silverside is perfect. (For overseas users these cuts come from the buttock of the animal) Slice the meat with the grain and use a very sharp carving knife for the best results.
SLICING THE MEAT
This part is very important!
A Home Biltong Maker is best suited for hanging thinly sliced strips of meat for best results. Not the chunks of meat that hang under the rafters for weeks on end.
The thicker the meat, the longer it takes to dry. Aim for slices of anything up to 1cm thick.
Careful now, this needs a bit of concentration!
While slicing, one inevitably tends to end up with the bottom of the strip being thinner than the top. It is not like slicing bread (For some it may be!).
Do not hack at the meat, stop to access your progress and then slice further. That way you will end up with Biltong looking unappetizing covered in nicks and cuts. Slice the meat to within about 2cm of the hanging height allowed by the machine. Too many short pieces may have you running out of space with the deeper part of the machine not being fully utilized.
YOUR FIRST BATCH
For the first batch of Biltong, rather try the Quick Biltong recipe. It is foolproof and gives quick results. When marinating the meat always pack the thicker slices at the bottom of the tray with the thinner pieces on top.
HANGING OR SKEWERING THE MEAT
Some Biltong Makers make use of skewers and some use hooks to hang the meat.
Which-ever method is used please remember the following in order to create a free airflow for quicker drying and to prevent the possibility of mould. Always hang the meat with the thickest part to the top. Don’t let any of the meat touch the sides of the machine. Don’t let any of the pieces of meat touch each other. Always fit the cover after hanging the meat to prevent insects such as flies spoiling the batch.
STORING YOUR BILTONG
Biltong should be consumed within a week of preparation in order to get the maximum benefit in terms of taste and texture.
Normally you could just switch your machine off when the Biltong is ready and leave it hanging in there for easy storage. You may also take it out and keep it in the refrigerator.
If you want to keep some of it for an extended period of time, rather put some pieces into a plastic freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and freeze it for up to 3 months.
SAUSAGES AND WORS
Various sausages your buy at your butcher or in the shop (you could even make your own!) are suitable for drying and you can experiment to your hearts content. Just remember to use the thinner variety for quicker results. Mutton sausage is usually not well suited for drying.
Your Biltong maker is an electrical appliance. Do not wash it in the kitchen sink! Simply wipe with a damp cloth and dry.
Whether we like it or not and no matter what some manufacturers of Biltong Makers may say, the question of mould will always be with us.
Biltong, especially the “wettish” type, can be affected by mould whether it has been purchased or home-made and not consumed within a couple of days. Mould is more likely to occur when making Biltong during hot and humid summer periods especially at coastal areas. Although the “Biltong Making Season” is usually in the winter months, it can be made all year round in your Biltong Maker provided it is situated in a cool and dry environment.
Your kitchen, away from the stove and kettle or perhaps a dry store room is ideal.
Here are a few simple precautions you can take to prevent the occurrence of this irritating phenomenon.
- In the summer months try to cut the pieces thinner so they can dry quicker.
- Never dry the meat in a dank out-building or a musty room that has been closed for a long period. The fresher the air and the better the ventilation, the less danger there is of mould occurring.
- Most people use Biltong Makers in their kitchens. However, take care if you have a compact kitchenette as steam from cooking pots, kettles and the washing-up creates humidity.
- Mould is more likely to form on pre-packed meat, especially sausage (wors) that has been on the cold rack of a shop for a number of days.
- Take care if the bloodiness in which the meat is lying has gone “tacky” when you unseal it, as this is a mould stimulant. Wipe it thoroughly with a cloth soaked in vinegar before continuing any further preparation.
A batch of meat severely contaminated with mould will not dry, irrespective of how long it hangs. Rather give it to Fido!
The best advise is to always buy freshly cut meat from your butcher!
It is extremely important to be very aware of the presence of flies while you are preparing the meat. Under no circumstances must they be permitted to settle on the meat at any stage. Be particularly careful by ensuring that the meat is well covered with netting or a towel during the marinating period.
When flies settle on foodstuffs they lay eggs and they do it like lightning!! These eggs will certainly hatch during the drying process resulting in your Biltong being contaminated!
Be particularly vigilant during the summer months and when you are working with venison. Also ensure that if you use netting to cover the meat during the marinating process it does not touch the meat at any part or at any stage as flies can lay their eggs through netting. Rather use some kitchen towels.
If you do detect maggots on any of your meat strips during the drying period remember that it is very unlikely that the whole batch is contaminated. It may be only those strips upon which flies have settled. Isolate these and throw them away. The sight however may be so off-putting that you will not be blamed for commissioning the whole batch to the trashcan.
Although it was necessary to warn you about the above it seldom happens if just basic precautions are taken!