Traditionally, biltong ingredients have been very common and accessible. This recipe comes directly from South Africa, where the heat of the sun was used to make a meat delicacy that’s now enjoyed the world around.
It remains relatively exclusive, as biltong jerky can cost a lot of money to purchase. The good news, is that this is due more to the process of making biltong than it is to the cost of ingredients.
We’re going to share a biltong recipe with you that’ll show you how easy and affordable it can be to make. We’ll shatter the myth that biltong spice is a secret formula, or that it contains expensive or hard to find ingredients, as well.
What a biltong maker is
A biltong dryer can be as simple as a meat dehydrator. One of the things that South Africans have typically done is to cover their meat with black pepper to keep pests away while the meat dries. This isn’t necessary today, and neither is an expensive machine.
Although you’ll find a simplification in process, you can get the same delicious flavor of authentic biltong. The following recipe contains all of the ingredients you’ll need.
- 4.5 pounds beef, lamb, veal, fish, or whichever kind of meat you prefer
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup coriander seeds, ground or crushed
- 1 tbsp. baking soda
- 2 tbsp. salt (kosher, sea salt or pink Himalayan are recommended)
- 1 tbsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. paprika
We recommend freezing your biltong meat for about 30 minutes prior to cutting. Unless you have a biltong slicer, this will allow you to cut into even, ¼”-thick slices. Rub each one thoroughly with your choice of acidic vinegar.
Combine all of the remaining ingredients, except for the meat. Once mixed, rub the biltong spice mix into the meat and then seal it in an airtight container for 8 hours.
Some recipes also call for marinating for a few hours, then applying a generous amount of coarse salt and sugar. This cures the meat using salt, which is a process of drawing moisture out, leading to a dryer meat. If you choose to do so, marinade the meat for another few hours.
Rinse all of the salt from the exterior of your brawn, using additional vinegar. Cover thoroughly once more in spices, shaking off and blotting out as much moisture as possible using paper towel.
A biltong dehydrator and how to use it
The process of using a dehydrator for meat to make biltong is relatively simple. It’ll actually save you potentially weeks, and allow you to enjoy delicious biltong within about a day.
Set your food dryer to 165 and dehydrate for 12 hours. There’s also another tool, called a biltong machine or biltong box, which allows the meat to hang and dry at lower heat. This method definitely breaks the biltong down further, and intensifies flavors.
You could also adjust your recipe for use in a food dehydrator, to save time. For example, cover your biltong meat with coarse salt on both sides, and let it cure for an hour and a half. Next, soak each piece in your choice of vinegar for another hour and a half, then scrape off the salt.
Finally, add your biltong seasoning and dehydrate. Exposing your meat directly to salt will draw out moisture, while the apple cider vinegar will tenderize your meat. Further marinating in the recipe shared above will also help concentrate its flavors.
Making your own South African biltong recipe
The main ingredients in biltong are crushed coriander seed, salt, black pepper, hot pepper spices and meat. Red wine vinegar is used traditionally, but you could also add in your favorite beer, or even whiskey or brandy.
The main point to remember is the strong curing process, using ordinary salt. Black pepper is traditionally used quite heavily and stays on during the drying process. You can replace this with any flavor you like, since you’re not contending with the outdoors.
Food dehydraters are capable of producing unique and authentic results for meat recipes!