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Biltong bliss, here you come! 🥩 Mastering the art of crafting perfect homemade biltong

Learning how to make biltong (the South African way 🇿🇦) is like unlocking a secret code to ultimate snacking satisfaction. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be the talk of the town with your homemade mouth-wateringly meaty and delicious biltong. So put on your apron, grab your spices, and get ready for a gratifying and flavourful journey!

How to make biltong — the finished product

Making quality biltong is the stuff dreams are made of. It may seem like a daunting task, but with a little know-how, you’ll be chomping down on your own delicious biltong in no time. Here are the four basic steps to guide you on your biltong-making journey. Trust us, it’s easier than you think!

1. Meat selection

There is a long and interesting list of meats that could be successfully transformed into biltong (everything from fish to turkey) but for the novice, we suggest using beef and game as these will suit most tastes. Venison is a popular choice due to its leaner quality but whatever you select the standard factors of cut, aging and fat content apply and will all affect your biltong in the same way they do when you cook with these meats.

Preparing the steaks

Choose according to your preference (and availability) but bear in mind fatty meats are more likely to spoil during the drying process and although you can use prime cuts, you generally get better value from these if you cook them. We suggest finding a balance between quality and cost.

Meat loses much of its mass during the drying process, so you’ll most likely be buying in bulk. In this example, we’re using two kilograms of sirloin bought from a local supermarket.

2. Preparation

Start by removing excess fat. This will help with the drying process, and ensure greater longevity of the final product. Leave some fat for extra flavour, as you like it.

Biltong preparation

Don’t cut the slices too thick or they will take too long to dry. Roughly 20cm in length, and 1cm thickness is ideal. Get rid of any gristle/sinew – these bits become extremely tough to chew when dried. Longer strips are more space efficient for drying, and reduce the number of drying hooks you’ll need to use.

Basting and seasoning recipe | for approximately 2kg of meat

  • 250ml vinegar (for basting)
  • 1/2 cup ground coriander
  • 2 Tbs ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs sea salt
  • 2 tsps paprika

Biltong seasoning

The easiest way to prepare meat for drying is to baste and season simultaneously. Start by adding a layer of your basting mix (vinegar) and seasoning spices to the bottom of a wide, flat dish or tray.

Basting with vinegar

Lay your steaks flat in the dish, then add another equal layer of basting and seasoning on top. Additional spices like paprika and peri peri can be added according to your preference for spicy flavouring. Let the steaks marinade for 2-4 hours in the fridge before proceeding to the drying phase.

Seasoning and basting

3. Drying

You can dry biltong in an isolated, dry space (like the Karoo) or a specially constructed chamber (like a biltong maker) which allows you to control the heat and visitations of unwanted guests (flies of the fruity kind). Humidity is the enemy and primary cause of spoilt biltong so creating the right environment for drying is an essential part of the process, especially in colder or more humid climates.

Drying in the biltong maker

Depending on the amount of meat and method of drying you use, it can take anything from 24 hours to 10 days to complete the process. Personal taste also comes into play, as some like their biltong moist while others prefer the rock hard variety.

Making biltong — the final product

4. Experimentation

Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to let your inner foodie run wild and experiment with different meats, seasonings, basting techniques, and drying methords to create your very own unique and signature biltong. So don’t be afraid to explore new flavours and textures, and let your adventurous spirit take over. Who knows, you might just stumble upon the next big biltong sensation!

Easier than you thought? Bet it was. Check out the Mellerware Biltong Maker if you’re keen to give it a go.

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