Making biltong is really simple

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

Biltong is a kind of dried meat and a delicacy that originated in South Africa. The word comes from the Dutch word bil meaning buttock and tong meaning strip.

According to Brian Johannes, a Johannesburg butcher, there are two main types of biltong - beef biltong and game biltong.

"Both are good but some people prefer one above the other. Lamb, pork and poultry are not used for biltong, though ostrich meat makes good biltong and is popular in South Africa.

"Beef is probably the most popular and is the easiest to obtain, from the perspective of making your own."

Johannes says there are many recipes and methods to make biltong.

"Many of them are passed down from generation to generation," he says.

"The good news is that it is really simple to make your own biltong, and the principles that you will use are basically the same regardless of which recipe or method you choose to adopt.

"One thing is sure, like many other recipes, the best biltong is made with the best ingredients."

Biltong recipe

Good quality roasting meat (sirloin or silverside)

2kg meat

20ml brown sugar

75ml brown vinegar

25ml Worcestershire Sauce

Biltong spice

Slice meat into strips. Sprinkle the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce over the meat.

Sprinkle 100g of biltong spice evenly on to both sides of the meat.

Leave meat in a covered container for about 12 hours.

Hang the meat in a drier or a small room and leave the fan running continuously until the meat has dried according to your preference (three to five days).

Other spices can be added to your spice mix according to your taste - garlic, chilli or peri-peri.

Hints and tips

l Use plastic, stainless steel, enamel or earthenware containers for the salting of the meat. Metal containers, or even chipped enamel ones, are unsuitable as the salt mixture reacts with the metal or impurities in cracked containers, discolouring the meat and gives it a bad taste.

l Cut the meat into slightly thinner strips if it is to be dried in a biltong-maker.

l Use plastic, stainless steel or coated metal hooks.

Do not use uncoated metallic hooks for hanging meat as the metal will react with the meat leaving an area of meat around the hook that has a "rusty" taste.

l As biltong dries it gets saltier - the more salt absorbed during the salting process, the saltier the dry meat gets.

If you prefer your biltong very dry, consider using less salt or a shorter salting duration. - Additional information from

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