Biltong. What is the stuff anyway?
6th April 2021
WHAT IS BILTONG?
It is a question we always get asked and one we never get tired of answering. Why? Because the stuff is good, its damn good. In fact, it’s so good that millions of people all over the world try it, eat it and even go as far as trying to make it for themselves.
If you enter the word ‘biltong’ into the learners Oxford Dictionary, this is what it says:
‘raw dry meat that is eaten in small pieces. Biltong is preserved by being treated with salt.’
And that is exactly what it is!
Do not be freaked out, yes, its raw but its first cured with salt, vinegar and other spices and then hung in air-controlled rooms to dry. Before they had air-controlled rooms though, they had to use the sun. Let’s look into where this amazing idea came from.
WHERE IT ORIGINATED?
It originated in Southern countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia where the temperatures are high.
Biltong, although quite a new snack, has been around for many years (400 in fact) as a way of preserving meat. The indigenous people of Africa used to rub salt on the meat and hang it up. When the Dutch settlers arrived, they changed the process. They added vinegar, cloves, coriander, and other spices to the mix. This includes potassium Nitrate which is also added to Biltong.
WHAT ANIMAL AND WHICH PART OF IT DO WE USE?
Anything from beef (traditionally it was made from beef because it is the less expensive meat, however wagyu has become the new fashion), to ostrich, kudu, chicken, fish and even mushrooms (for the vegans)!
The best cuts for Biltong are usually sirloin, fillet or steaks cut from the hip such as the topside or silverside. For our Biltong at St Marcus, we tend to use silverside or topside for you to have the best, most tender biltong.
Over the years, people have tested and tried many different recipes for Biltong. Adding different flavours such as chilli, peri-peri, chutney and even brandy flavour. Some have replaced normal vinegar with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. Some have added brown sugar to increase the sweetness. Have a look at our many ranges of biltong.
HOW DO WE EAT IT?
Again, that is open to discussion. Biltong can be eaten rare, medium, or well-done. The longer its hung for, the harder and chewier it becomes.
HOW LONG CAN BILTONG LAST?
Depends on your self-control. For me, a couple hundred grams lasts about a day. For others, it can last up to a week in a dark cupboard with plenty of air. If you want it to last without drying out even more, pop it in the freezer, but not the fridge (remember it’s a dried, cured meat. It does not need moisture)
HOW DO WE EAT BILTONG?
Its simple. Because it is packed with goodness and nutrition, it has become an extremely popular on-the-go snack. Alternatively, it goes beautifully as a topping on pizza, or in a sandwich. Add some blue cheese and gherkins and you have got yourself the world’s best sarmie. It also goes great with a cheese and charcuterie board, and of course the perfect South African wine.
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS, YOU SAY?
It’s low-carb, high-protein and low-sugar. It is made with all-natural ingredients and because it is not cooked, it locks in all the protein, minerals, and vitamins. It has more zinc, iron and selenium compared to other protein snacks or meals out there.
Eat Biltong. It’s rich, delicious, and definitely addictive. (a good addiction). Packed with all the goodness a healthy snack should contain, and the fact that it is so versatile, you will not go wrong.