Biltong

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Van-Wild

Full Member
Feb 17, 2018
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UK
With a nod to the jerky thread, I’ve loaded the biltong box. Silverside or topside are the best cuts for this. Trim most fat and ALL muscle sheath.



Vinegar wash for a half hour, kills surface bugs. Use a long knife to slice the meat into 1cm or 2cm strips. Do this along the grain of the meat so the dried product is cut across it and is tender to eat. The reason for a long knife is to prevent any hacking or sawing, this creates ragged flaps in the meat that can store nasty bacteria. So choose a very sharp carving knife and sweep through in as few cuts as you can.



Drain off the vinegar, pat the meat dry, apply your secret recipe. The mix needs to be around 40% salt. Don’t apply it too heavily because the meat shrinks loads and concentrates the rub.



For this batch, here is my recipe. Soaked in Worcester sauce for an hour. Wiped. Smoked garlic granules, Chipotle chilli flakes, ground sweet pimento, 40% Maldon sea salt. Either chuck the lot in a bag and shake, or do the rub thing. If it goes in a bag, wipe some off after, it’ll be too salty. Few other things added, but no Coriander this time, a first for me as it’s so much a part of biltong. We’ll see. :)

Into the box. 80w lightbulb, 240v computer fan, old kitchen cupboard, it’s really a very simple set up that can even be done in the big plastic storage boxes sold cheaply.





Back to you in 3-5 days. :)
Haha! I also make biltong. But I use a dehydrator. Basically the same method as you, but a secret recipe passed down through generations, which changes every time it is employed.... . I put mine in a dehydrator for about 8hrs and it's done. I don't vacuum pack mine, it never lasts that long!

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Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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Does when you do a 5 kilo batch ;) Here’s what I ended up with.

This one is salt, lots of black pepper, onion salt, garlic granules. The meat spent a couple of hours in soy sauce after the vinegar wash. It got good feedback from everyone I sent it to.



 
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Van-Wild

Full Member
Feb 17, 2018
607
408
41
UK
Where do you get your meat from? 5kg of fresh beef can be expensive!

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Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
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W.Sussex
Where do you get your meat from? 5kg of fresh beef can be expensive!
I wait for the supermarkets to run a deal and then gather a couple in. I prefer not to freeze the meat, so a couple of large Sunday joint cuts fills the biltong box.

I ought to use the local markets towards the end of the day, the butchers don’t want to take meat home and pack it back in the cold room, so they let it go cheaply. I’m not using Silverside again, it’s wasteful and labour intensive, Topside all the way.
 

Ascobis

Forager
Nov 3, 2017
128
69
Wisconsin, USA
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.

<snip>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.
Drawing moisture is good. I made a vinegar brine. My observation is that drawig moisture before the brine will cause the meat to draw the acid in. Flavor would be a welcome side effect.
Salt-drying preserves meat. It also is boring, tastes too salty, and annoys my physician.

Acid denaturation seals the outside if the pieces to prevent unwelcome infestations. Noting that acidified fish dishes are popular world-wide and that cholera spreads readily by poorly prepared ceviche, I am very interested in getting this all right.

I chose to spice the vinegar brine because all a dry rub does is fall off as the meat dries and shrinks. Salt during the drying stage has no useful effect.

Regarding top vs bottom: my US butcher does not do silverside. I look at round roasts that are on sale. The important point is to get a cut that has the longest fibers and no wastefull crossed muscle.

Yes, a very sharp knife is required. Yes, make decisive cuts without hesitation and do not make hangy bits that invite infection. Read, absorb, and inwardly digest Musashe, Hai!

If you are getting drips after curing then you are creating a microbiological playground. Liquid means that the hydrostatic milieu is favorable for microbial growth. Draw the liquid first. This is why my seal-a-meal experiment led to mold. The slightly moist meat evaporated into the package and let the fungus grow.

All: this is an informative thread. Please add your experiments and observations.

(Now I must stop writing and turn to reading about Janne's fish. )
[edit: I don't know why the underlines occured.]
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Underlining is good, gives power to the sentence!

I picked my old friends brain about the old ways in Lofoten.
Once these people are gone, most info is gone too.

When he was a young boy, he used to help dad with potato planting.
Dig a hole, place a dry cods head of bad quality, cover with soil, compress with foot, take a potato, cut so each piece has one growing eye, place in hole, cover.

After cleaning the household fish, hevwashed his hands in sea water, then fdried them in a stinky sheepskin.
One day he told me the secret. The skin is raw, just air dried, and the wool is full of Lanolin which is good for the skin on the hands.

He will be 93 this Christmas, Gods willing!
 

Ascobis

Forager
Nov 3, 2017
128
69
Wisconsin, USA
{snio}
I picked my old friends brain about the old ways in Lofoten.
Once these people are gone, most info is gone too.

When he was a young boy, he used to help dad with potato planting.
Dig a hole, place a dry cods head of bad quality, cover with soil, compress with foot, take a potato, cut so each piece has one growing eye, place in hole, cover.

After cleaning the household fish, hevwashed his hands in sea water, then fdried them in a stinky sheepskin.
One day he told me the secret. The skin is raw, just air dried, and the wool is full of Lanolin which is good for the skin on the hands.

He will be 93 this Christmas, Gods willing!
...Started to snip but entire post is valuable. ...
"bad quality". Translation issue? ="rotting"? We don't like that song from the 80s? Ugly fish?

Honor the old folks knowledge. (Except when they are wrong.)
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
I assume you mean the heads?
Not easy to translate. If I do a word translation- ’getting sour’.

The fish meat undergoes an aging process when drying. Yes, it is a decomposition stage first. Just like when Beef is Aged. The enzymes start breaking it down, but it stops when the moisture goes down.

In the heads, much of the inside being encased in bone, and also being thicker, the dissication is slower so this process can go one step further.

The dry cod is classified in 5 (?) quality groups. The heads in one I think.

Different counties prefer different qualities. Not only a cost issue, today also a taste / flavour issue.
Jamaica, for example, prefers a quite low, very ’aromatic’ quality.
The taste, very strong and somewhat pungent, goes extremely well with dishes like Salt Cod and Ackee, or Salt Cod fritters.

Of course this stems from the times when the slaves were fed the cheapest nutritios food they could buy.
 
Last edited:

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Son is now making two batches of Biltong. One ‘Classic Mild’ and one ‘Classic with bite ‘ = with finely pulverized chiili meat.

So far one week into drying, but taste tests are very favorable!

We gave up the dryer, we hand them in our cooled wine cupboard.
Works much better. We have made 4 batches a 2 kilo raw beef so far, no mold, no problem.