In the realm of delectable snacks, few can rival the mouthwatering pleasure of biltong. Hailing from South Africa, biltong is a traditional cured and dried meat that has captured the taste buds of people worldwide. In this blog post, we will explore what biltong is, its traditional production process, and how it sets itself apart from beef jerky.
What is Biltong?
Biltong is a flavorful dried meat delicacy, typically crafted from beef. The term "biltong" is derived from the Dutch words "bil" (meaning buttock or hindquarter) and "tong" (meaning strip or tongue). A beloved staple in South African cuisine, biltong is not only relished as a snack but also frequently incorporated into various dishes and recipes.
The journey of making biltong begins with selecting a lean cut of meat, often sourced from the hindquarter of an animal. The meat is then skillfully sliced into long, thin strips while removing any excess fat. These strips are subsequently marinated in a combination of vinegar, salt, and an array of spices. Popular choices include coriander, black pepper, and paprika. The marinating process allows the meat to absorb the flavors, resulting in a tantalizing taste.
Following marination, the meat strips are air-dried in a well-ventilated environment, often in a cool and dry place. This drying method sets biltong apart from beef jerky, as it is not cooked or smoked. The drying period varies, ranging from several days to a couple of weeks, depending on factors like humidity and desired texture. This natural drying process lends biltong a tender yet slightly chewy consistency, with a depth of flavor that intensifies over time.
Biltong vs. Beef Jerky
While biltong and beef jerky share a common thread as dried meat snacks, they possess distinct differences. One significant contrast lies in their texture. Biltong tends to be more tender and moist, owing to its longer drying period and minimal moisture extraction. In contrast, beef jerky is typically drier and chewier due to its relatively shorter drying time. The seasoning profiles of biltong and beef jerky also diverge. Biltong showcases a robust blend of spices, often including coriander, black pepper, and other aromatic ingredients. This results in a savory and herbaceous flavor that sets it apart from the typically smoky and salty taste of beef jerky.
Creating Biltong in the DRYAGER cabinet
With the DRYAGER cabinet you can make biltong with ease and achieve incredible results. In the pursuit of perfect biltong, we worked with our DRY AGER South Africa team to identify the parameters and duration to achieve the best results. After extensive trial and error, our recommended settings for biltong are:
- 72% relative humidity
- Duration of 7-10 days
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