South African Biltong… You might ask, “What’s that?”. Well, I describe this recipe as a South African beef jerky, BUT my husband says calling it “jerky” is an offense. You see my husband is from South Africa, a transplant to America via Europe, and calling this beloved traditional food from “the motherland” jerky is, well, equivalent to calling it garbage.
So on to really answering, what is biltong? First off it is pronounced bill-tong. It is a dried meat snack, similar to jerky. It differs to jerky in that it is quite a bit thicker, but it can be sliced thin after drying, it is only air dried, never smoked, vinegar is used in the process of making it, and the spice profile is unique to South Africa. In essence, it is super yummy and a MUST TRY for jerky lovers!
I will be sharing how we make biltong for ourselves here in America. It is by no means the traditional method, but I promise it is yummy! We have made adjustments to reduce on time and space requirements, and to utilize the tools we have available.
We don’t make our biltong as thick as the traditional version to reduce on the drying time. Because of this we don’t slice it after drying. We eat it like jerky. You still get the full “biltong flavor” with this method. You can always make it thicker and adjust the drying time accordingly, if you like. This method has just been a very quick and easy way for us to make and enjoy biltong.
For the recipe, sometimes you can order biltong spice through amazon. It’s an item that is hard to get your hands on due to importing, availability, and price. Because of this, sometimes it is better to make it yourself. You can find our recipe for homemade biltong spice here. Just know that you can adjust the spice mixture to suit your taste. I have come to find that all aspects of making biltong are very much personal, and personal preference, not exact science.
When we make our biltong we use the Excalibur Dehydrator and absolutely LOVE it. We use it for everything! But any dehydrator will work. Just double check with your manufacturer directions before starting. The drying time doesn’t have to be exact. What you are looking for is a ballpark figure. If your manufacturer directions are way off from my times included in the recipe, adjust accordingly. But if they are pretty close I wouldn’t worry about trying to make adjustments. After making it a couple of times you will get the hang of it and where you need to, or would like to, make adjustments.
So here is our recipe on how to make biltong in the dehydrator:
- 2 -2.5 lb (1 kg) grass-fed top round steak (or equivalent)
- 3 oz (90ml) raw apple cider vinegar (any vinegar can be used)
- ¼ c (50 g) biltong spice
- Trim fat from steak.
- Cut steak into ¼ - ½ inch thick, by 1 - 1½ inch wide strips, with the grain of the meat.
- Put meat strips into a 1 gallon ziplock bag.
- Add vinegar and spice.
- Seal bag without removing the air.
- Toss the meat inside the bag to coat with seasoning and vinegar.
- When thoroughly coated, let air out of bag and seal.
- Lay flat in refrigerator for 6 hours to marinate.
- Turn, and marinate other side for another 6 hours.
- Remove meat from bag and pat dry with paper towels.
- Arrange meat on dehydrator trays with plenty of room between strips to allow for air circulation.
- Dry for 9 -12 hours at 145°F (63°C).
- Once dried, let cool, and store in an airtight container.
That’s it! Enjoy and I hope you like it! It really is quite tasty! 🙂 Make sure to let me know if you give it a try. xx