Biltong

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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
I see no evidence that PacNW First Nations attempted to harvest any prawn or shrimp.
Fishy things, and shell fish for sure, they cultivate those to this day. Dried smoked mussels and clams are ocean candies.

YES! It is really Spot Prawn Season! Yum-a-roonies. Slow as molasses on the kitchen floor for races.
Mostly caught in the Salish Sea, between the S end of Vancouver Island and the city on the mainland.

Personally, the BC whole scallops are a far and away better taste. The draggers use nets that run on skiis
so the lead line of the trawl doesn't bugger up the sea floor. The scallops panic and jump up = job done!

I dragged a shrimp trawl for some months, adding skiis would have been a nightmare to get into the water.
 

Ascobis

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Nov 3, 2017
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Wisconsin, USA
Detail questions: I kosher my sliced bottom round overnight then soak in spiced vinegar brine. I am aiming to pull the acid back into the partially dried tissue. I taste the vinegar but no other flavor. The coarsely ground coriander and black pepper on the outside fall off as it dries. Ought I dip it in the vinegar briefly instead of soaking? Grind the coating rub more finely?
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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I would have crushed the spices and boiled the vinegar brine to suck the most out of it.
Keep your beak out of the acetic acid fumes. The goop helps to pull the water out of the meat.
You can use soya sauce or molasses as glue to stick a rub to the meat.

How thin did you slice the meat? I can't stand more than 1/8" - 1/4" jerky.
I'm convinced that a big apple wood smoke for the first hour makes a world of difference.
Mince mixed for a long time makes the best "chew" texture.
 

Ascobis

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Nov 3, 2017
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Wisconsin, USA
Tuppence worth:
DO carefully examine the silverside/bottom round at the store. Butchers don't care about making biltong. There's a connective tissue sheet that separates two muscles. You want the package with only one muscle so you can cut it lengthwise. This is important.
DO Kosher the silverside/bottom round slices for an hour or so. You want to draw out some liquid.
DO NOT layer the slices in salt for a day. That makes a different product. DAMHIKT.
DO soak your spices in the vinegar brine for several hours before adding the meat. Floating bits of spice don't add anything to the result.
DO soak the slices in the spiced vinegar brine for > 6 hours and <12 hours. You are replacing some of the drawn moisture with vinegar and spices. The vinegar denatures the outside of the meat slice, which helps to seal it. (Searing does the same thing for roasts.)
DO NOT soak the slices in brine more than 12 hours. Especially if you over-dried them in salt. DAMHIKT.
DO grind coriander and your choice of other spices finely. Rub the vinegar-soaked slices with finely-ground coriander and other spices as you like.
DO NOT coarsely grind coriander as recommended by several web recipes. It will fall off the slices as they dry. This benefits only coriander vendors.
DO dry the slices in a food dehydrator set a the lowest temperature it can obtain. Mine goes down to 95F.
[Maybe dry your slices on food-safe hooks on your porch if you happen to live on the veldt. Deponent knoweth not.]
DO package the dried slices with a food-sealer. ( I have no idea how well this works to preserve the biltong. I do know that it keeps me from eating it all at once. YMMV.)
 
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Ascobis

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Nov 3, 2017
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Wisconsin, USA
All that. I sealed the previous batch in "seal a meal", sans vacuum. Four of six developed mold. "Nasty fuzzy fungal growth" in HM English.

One of the un-moUldy bags had a leak and so I et it. Still a tasty treat.

Further plan for the current batch: add more ground coriander to the bag. Toss in a pinch of sodium metabisulfite and a pinch of ascorbic acid to each bag.
 

Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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All that. I sealed the previous batch in "seal a meal", sans vacuum. Four of six developed mold. "Nasty fuzzy fungal growth" in HM English.

One of the un-moUldy bags had a leak and so I et it. Still a tasty treat.

Further plan for the current batch: add more ground coriander to the bag. Toss in a pinch of sodium metabisulfite and a pinch of ascorbic acid to each bag.
You don’t mention salt in the spice mix. I do more of a vinegar wash, sloshing the meat in it and letting it get into the meat grain. Pat as dry as poss and then spice mix with about 40% salt in it. Last one I did was black pepper, onion salt and garlic granules, it came out well. I haven’t had any mould in any of it yet. There’s the end of a batch of chilli and garlic vacced in the fridge and it must be months old by now, it’s still good. I’m wondering if the salt on the outside, gradually being drawn in and making the meat drip, might be antibacterial and anti fungal.

To add, I’ve given up using silverside, too much work and too much waste. Topside is generally lean with just external muscle sheath to remove. Knife must be very sharp and long so as not to saw the meat leaving tatters places for bugs to gather and multiply.
 
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Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I keep to purely english. Sorry for the very long post!

Dry cod:
The cod is cleaned as soon after catch as possible. Head removed. Innards removed. The liver is boiled into Codliver oil. The Roe is salted for further food production ( creamed, canned, smoked).

The carcasses are tied together two and two at the tail end, and hung on wooden racks to dry.
Heads strung up on strings, around 5-7 heads per string, and hung up on racks to dry.

Salt cod: different versions.
Version one - headless, innards less cod halved lengthwise, then is placed in barrels, with lots of rock salt between layers. Sold. Left in barrel until taken up, desalted and cooked.
Very unusual product these days.
For home use, some people still do this, with choice loins from large cod, boneless.

In the old days the resulting brine was just topped up with more salt and the new cod placed there. Same brine used for years. ( salt was an expensive import commodity). Today new salt every year.

Version two: salting as above, for a couple of weeks. Then the carcass halves removed, and placed on cliffs to dry.
Before packaging in bundles, immersed and coated in fine salt.

Cod to be dried and destined to be eaten by the own family is usually selected to be of medium size. Cleaned, and filleted. Then the bone free cod sides are then hung up, on a rack under eaves, and protected by chicken wire.
Avoids birds crapping on them, eventual rain slowing down the drying.

The dry cod is not only rehydrated and cooked, but also eaten ‘raw’. You take a dry cod, put it on a wooden block, and with the flat end of a large axe hammer it gently until the dry fish meat flakes and fluffs up. Eat as a snack. Pute protein. Nice, mild fish flavour. Love it!
During WW2 the german soldiers called this Lofoten Kaugummi. Lofoten chewing gum.

There is another cod product, called Boknafisk, that is made. Traditionally it was made at the end of the season when the weather turned a little bit to warm to dry the ‘classic’ way.
The headless, innard less cod is hung up, and semi dried. 2 weeks or so. Due to the higher temperature the flesh starts ‘turning’ a little bit.
Eaten locally, no export. Short life span unless ( today) deep frozen.
Boknafish has a nice taste, very slight ammonia flavour.
Eaten steamed with steamed potatoes, peas.

If people do it for family use, they only use the prime boneless loin from large cod.

To accompany many local cod dishes this is eaten: you take a parasite free liver, and divide it in inch large chunks.
Boil it gently until it releases some oil.
Boil the roe sack in salted water until done. Take up, cut in thick slices.
In the plate, put a slice or two and pour a bit of the warm oil and liver.

Delicious bith with fresh gently boiled cod as with boknafisk.

The dry heads are called ’Africa fish’. Exported to many Afican countries. They boil it.
Being far more difficult to dry, they are usually half rotten in the middle.
Strong flavour that apparently goes very well with the maize porridge (pap).

Much of the Salt /dry cod is today made in industrial setting as this gives a more even, high quality.

The air dried Cod is like fish biltong, but not flavoured. No need!
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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The common fish staple here are the various species of Pacific salmon.
They are netted or speared in weirs like for the past few thousand years.
The best are females which have set eggs, they aren't quite so oily/greasy any more.
The fish are headed but split down the backbone, not the belly, for more even preparation.
Hung up over alder wood smoke, they might hang for 2-3 weeks until they are nearly brown.
Clams, mussles and oysters from the gardens are shucked and threaded on cords to be preserved the same way.

Other than that, there is remarkably little evidence of any other preservation techniques such as salting (on the West Coast).
Away far inland on the Churchill river, smoke drying for moose and fish was all I ever saw.

Some modern salmon are chunked up and smoked until really quite brown.
Then they get a soak in 100% Canadian maple syrup.
"Salmon Candy" isn't cheap but it is a stunning treat.
= = =
Nobody ever made biltong here. Bison all got fine-sliced thin and then smoked dried as jerky.
I make that, quite energy efficient. Stone hard, it keeps all winter quite easily.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I forgot to mention that the bladder of the fish is saved to be used by breweries. The product is called Isinglass I think.

Also, from the head, the Cod tongues are cut away.
It is in fact not the actual tongue, but the muscles at the floor of the mouth. A delicacy.

A good size head has large cheak muscles, those can be removed.
Both the tongue and cheeks are breaded and pan fried.
Delicious!

One oldfashioned dish is to clean the head, remove gills, cut head in half and boil it. Said to be nice, but that I have not eaten.

I should add that other fish than Cod are preserved by drying and salting .
But it is the specific Barents Sea Cod, calked ‘Skrei’ that is the most valuable.

It migrates down to the Lofoten Islands to spawn in late December to early April.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Thin slicing beef or bison is really tedious. A case of beer is important.
Use a genuine cure and a genuine seasoning mix is quick.
With or without smoke, the drying process at 200F just takes a few hours to last for months.
You get used to apple wood smoke i the house from the kitchen oven.
The thickness of biltong and prone to rotting concerns me. That's just me.

There's a trick to mixing the cure and the seasoning into ground meat.
454g/1 lb in a Cabela jerky pistol squirts out a jerky strip 17' long x 3/4" wide.
That is good stuff and quite fun to make up for the hunting season here.
5 lbs might last the 10 weeks of the season, if you don't go out more than 15-20 times.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
The vinegar soak acidifies the meat so it does not spoil so rapidly.
South Africa is a hot country compared to UK and Canada, and if it does not rot there it never will.
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Which is still a big part of my concern = I am not willing to ignore climate.
There's nothing to suggest that paleo people here ever used a biltong technique.
They still don't, for salmon on the coast or moose on the Precambrian Shield.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Drying in the sun must be the oldest preservation method.

The European immigarants brought with them vinegar and improved the traditional smoking/ drying as preservation.

As Biltong also contains a bunch of non African spices, I guess they introduced those too.

The Saami groups think that it is enough with smoking/ drying ir just drying. No need to use anything else to make Reindeer tasty!

In my eyes, making Jerky is far more dubious as it is made from minced meat = far larger surface area and contamination risk.
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
That's what the 'cure' is for, that I mentioned. It is not a seasoning but a preservative.
As a rule, I never depend on store-bought meat to do any of this.
None of it ever gets to lie around, stagnant, during procssing. We are busy.
Drying over a smoky fire has to be older than simple sun drying to keep the meat from being fly blown.

In fact, you will recall that fly species diversity and developmental stages
are the preferred method of estimation of time of death for people.
I guess the perps don't want to build a fire for smoke.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I suspect humans / humanoids preserved meat by drying before fire was invented.
Or they just visited the neighbouring tribe to harvest some fresh?

When I get my crazy moments, I brine and smoke my own pork.

Then boil it, eat with cooked and prepared sauerkraut and bread dumpling.

Central European quality food.
Makes your chest and bloodvessels furry!
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Starch evidence shows that people were roasting roots and tubers more than 200,000 years ago in Africa.

Boiled pork?
I was hoping you would say that you tossed it out and ate the pot.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Boiled smoked pork. Smoked as in 12 hours in smoke, after 4-5 days if brining.

Unsmoked boiled pork is different.
That one, an ancient European dish, I love too.
Peel onions, root veg ( carrits, parsnip, onion, turnip, celeriac) place in salted water, add pork ( hock, neck, if you are a peasant or gourmet, the halved head) and boil until tender.
Remove pork. Slice up.
Eat with rye bread ( german type), mustard, ground horseradish mixed with an acidic apple.
Some people like a side dish of uncooked sauerkraut.

The stock is not thrown away.
Add dried funghi, pearl barley. Add bits of leftover meat. Boil until barley is tender.
Sprinkle with finely cut green onion tops, or chives.

Eat with rustic bread.

Sod the Mediterrean cuisine. This is farmhouse Germanic/Slavic cuisine.