Preserving the Harvest: Biltong

Preserving the Harvest: Biltong

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I know you might be thinking “What the heck is a biltong?”, but stay with me for a second and all will be revealed!  Simply put biltong is like South African style jerky… sort of.  There are some significant differences in how biltong is made vs. jerky, but they are both ways to preserve meat by drying it.  While you may be more familiar with how jerky is made, I hope you will appreciate the simplicity, flavor, and low energy alternative for preserving your lean cuts of red meat…biltong!

images-4I first heard of biltong from Jack Spirko over at the Survival Podcast.  He uses a recipe from the Peter Hathaway Capstic, a famous African professional hunter and author.  I’ve read several of his books, and have seen some of his films.  Capstic seems like a reliable source, and Spriko does his homework, so I figured this stuff must be pretty good!  Any way onto making biltong….

Step one: Get some good red meat.  You don’t really want to be using pork or bear for this recipe as it uses no heat so there is a very real danger of trichinosis so don’t do it!  Most any other types of red meat derived from an herbivore will do though.  In South Africa they make biltong out of everything from ostrich to antelope.  I plan on making the majority of my deer this year into biltong (itimages-5 should be great, and I don’t imagine it will last long in our house)!

You’ll want to trim as much fat and connective tissue as possible from the meat.  Your goal is to have nice lean cuts with no gristle or fat.  Find the seams of the muscle groups and separate each individual muscle into its own piece.

Next you cut the meat into one inch by one inch strips.  You’ll want to cut with the grain of the meat if the piece is long enough.  Ideally you will be looking at strips of meat  1 inch wide by 1 inch deep by 6 inches long.

Once you get all of your meat cut, dredge it in apple cider vinegar (any vinegar will work, I just like the ACV), and sprinkle with corse sea salt (any corse non-iodized salt will do).  Be careful not to over salt your meat here!  You want it to be coated kind of like one of those salted pretzels you used to get at the mall when you were a teenager.  You’re looking for good even coverage, but not totally encrusted.  Next some ground black pepper and ground coriander.  Place all of this in a glass bowl in the fridge overnight and maybe stir it around every so often if you think about it.  That’s all the prep work you need to do here…pretty simple huh?!?!

images-6OK, so the next day after the meat has been in the fridge overnight you need to find a nice shady place to hang your meat.  You want low humidity and relatively low temperature.  Keep in mind this stuff was made in South Africa.  They used to just hang it up in the shade from trees outside to dry it.  With that in mind, any place that has ample air flow and is out of the sunlight will work fine.  An air conditioned office, or nice cool garage with a fan will work perfectly.

After about five days the biltong will be ready to eat, but give it another couple days to completely dry out before you store it.  Biltong will keep without refrigeration in an airtight container for six months easily, but more than likely it will all get eaten well before then!

So that’s it five ingredients (meat, ACV, salt, pepper, coriander) no special equipment like a dehydrator, or running the oven to try to drive all the moisture from the meat, just hang it up and let it dry out!  Try this low input method of meat preservation this season, I’m sure you’ll love it!

Resources:  Buy some and try it out to see if you like it first here: Biltong Jerky GRASSFED Lean Sliced Original Flavor (HIGH PROTEIN, NO GMOs, LOW CARBS) 1OZ BAG ** FREE SHIPPING**

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