Biltong questions?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by tgil, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. tgil

    tgil Fire Starter

      I've read a bunch of the old threads, but there isn't much in the last year or so?  Did everyone decide they liked jerky better?  I've been wanting to try my had at some biltong and have a 2lb piece of venison I'd like to try it with.  Since there really isn't a need for heat, other than to circulate air, couldn't I use my fridge to do the same thing?
  2. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    TG, sorry but don't know a thing about it except that it looks good when its done !
  3. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    Hi tgil,

    Sorry for the slow response....I make lots of Biltong...Technically there is a need for some heat...not to cook..but to dehydrate...using a fridge would cause the outside of the meat to harden and prevent an even drying. Some people make biltong aerated box with a heat source...this doesn't deal with humidity. Too little humidity (per your fridge) is a much also a problem. I make mine in a purpose built curing chamber where I can control temp and humidity.

    You should check out the forum ...might give you some ideas. a box...use a dehydrator...or make a curing chamber (my once you start dry cant stop). The fridge is a risky option.

    Let me know if you want to know anything else.
  4. boer1979

    boer1979 Newbie

    you dont need heat, you just need somewhere dry, and make sure the meat doesnt touch while drying or else it will get mildew growing on it. i build a biltong box ( google it, theres a bunch of ways to make it) and i use a 100watt light bulb to dry the meat. 
  5. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    If you dont need heat....why use the 100W light bulb?
  6. I've had plenty of real Biltong, air dried in Africa- It's a wonder I have any teeth left in my head.........Give me Jack Links any day!
  7. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    Haha..that;s the beauty of Biltong...dry it to your taste. I've also had some that nearly pulled the teeth out of my mouth! I prefer it much softer...even softer than jerky...

  8. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have had good luck with biltong. Cardboard box with a 20 watt bulb.
    The bulb is to create draft by heat rising and pulling in air. Just make sure to use fine screen to keep the no seeum bugs away.
  9. crys

    crys Newbie

    Just made my first biltong using the bilton maker described by popular mechanics - the plastic box with a fan and bulb (used a heating bulb for reptiles).  Came out very good for a first try though I'm going to make some changes like thicker cuts of meat, 1" instead of 1/2", and 5% salt instead of 6% salt (used the universal cure calculator).

    I'm of two minds about using cure in my next batch...this isn't aerobic at all so do I need to actually worry about botulism with air drying?

    Oh also I used malt vinegar as this is the brown vinegar described in many recipes and I'm very happy I did as the taste is excellent.
  10. ksforrie

    ksforrie Newbie

    You need good airflow to dry the meat.  I use a box with a extractor fan in the top and a 150W incident bulb if i need more heat.
  11. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    Hi Crys,

    I agree with the cut...I try to cut mine 1" seems to give the best results.

    Regarding the use of cure....Initially I didn't use it my biltong as it wasn't a ground product and I was following a traditional recipe...however cure is used in whole meat production all the time. Sure it's generally #2 as the curing/drying times are longer. Botulism is more of a risk in ground products, but their is still a risk in whole meat products. After a discussion with an expat South African friend on another forum ( I think he is here also) he pointed out a case of botulism poisoning in Australia where a commercial producer left it out by accident. People died.  His comment was " I'm to old to play Russian roulette" ...  My opinion, fwiw, is sure traditionally it wasn't used, but with today's knowledge why would you risk your own life, and that of your friends and family, by not using it? I've used ever since and honestly, contrary to opinion, I cant say that it affects the flavor at all. The choice is yours. It's sort like seat Colorado at least, you generally wont get ticketed for not wearing one, but why wouldn't you?
  12. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Hi Dingo. I'm very interested in trying my own biltong. I want to dry it in my basement with a fan. It's pretty cool down there. Sub 72F on an average day. But do you know what the relative humidity should be? It's pretty humid in my basement, at least 55% - 65%. But man I would be so excited if I could do this.
  13. crys

    crys Newbie

    And that was the same reason why I used it even though the recipe didn't call for it :)  Good to know that my instinct to be safe rather than sorry was correct...I was just wondering if there was an actual risk given the type of curing and now I know to keep using it.

    In any case my recipe was as follows for 5.51 lb or 2500 g of top round.

    2.5 kg top round or london broil

    6.15 gram cure - 150 ppm by weight

    145 gram Kosher salt - 6% salt by weight (cutting this down to 5% next time)

    75 gram light brown sugar - 3% sugar by weight (this will go to 2.5% next time to keep the ratio correct)

    141.75 gram Malt Vinegar (1/2 c for 2 kg)

    70.87 gram Worcestershire sauce (1/4c for 2 kg)

    5 mL baking soda (1 tps for 2 kg)

    3 mL ground white pepper (1/2 tsp for 2 kg)

    15 mL ground roasted coriander (1 tbs for 2 kg)

    I mixed the malt vinegar, Worcester sauce and cure together and dipped my meat slices in them, then laid them down in a bed of the mix of salt, sugar and spices.  I kept laying down meat and salt mixture in layers until done (added in whatever was left of the liquid cure mix) and then let this sit in the refrigerator for 12 hours.  Then I moved the entire mixture to gallon bags and mixed together the salt and liquid and kept rotating the bag from side to side for the next 12 to make sure all the meat rested in the cure for at least a day.  Then I laid it out on paper towels to dry for a few before putting it in the dryer and with the fan going it took only a day to get to a "wet" consistency I liked, at that point I pulled it and vacuum packed it to freeze.

    As I said next time I'm going to go with 1" slices and let it simply dry for longer to get a thicker end piece.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  14. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    Hi Mummel,

    Those conditions should be fine....biltong is pretty forgiving stuff. 72F is fine....65% is good...55% getting a little low...that just means it will dry a little quicker. Being such a small diameter product it dries quick anyway. Dont put the fan directly on the meat and check it regularly and use cure #1. Cage it somehow to keep the bugs and critters at bay. I used to go be the feel test...but now use a weight loss/feel test combo. At 30% weight loss it should be safe but I've found, for me at least, 45-50% ends up being what I like. It's personal preference after 30%

    TIP...i toast and fine grind my BP and Coriander and really press it into the meat before hanging.
  15. crys

    crys Newbie

    Look up the popular mechanics biltog box guide or just use the cardboard box idea for the first few tries if your not sure.  I would definitely do it in a box though to simply make sure insects (flies) can't get to it and lay eggs on it.  eww
  16. crys

    crys Newbie

    Interesting to note that it needs to be a 30% weight loss, I'll have to try the weight idea next time.  This time I just did it by feel and the knowledge that if I waited another 12 hours I'd have completely dry biltong.
  17. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    Hi Crys,

    That's an interesting recipe. That's the thing about like italian sausage...there are a gazillion recipe variations. I'll try this one next time. Any idea of the purpose of the baking soda & do you have pics?
  18. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    The 30% weight loss concept is one of the "safety hurdles" used in dry aging. I think technically is more about AW (available water) in the meat for nasties to grow. 30% weight loss is a generally accepted way of measuring AW without the use of expensive test equipment.

    The biltong boxes I've built in the past dont use a fan...just heat for convection. I would guess that the fan is speeding your drying considerably. My biltong generally takes 4-5 days in summer to be ready.
  19. crys

    crys Newbie

    I do but I've not looked up how to post here, as for the baking soda it was supposed to be a meat tenderizer?  I'm not sure if it did anything or not.

    As for your other comment, this is the first thing I've dry cured/aged so that explains why I've never come across it.  All I've really done so far is buckboard bacon and jerky curing wise.

    Edit: added to the recipe that I poured in whatever was left of the wet curing mix to the meat layers so that went into the bags after half a day.

    Edit 2: Also since you know about dry curing is 5% the lowest salt percentage I should go to by weight?
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  20. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Hey Dingo.  Sounds like my basement will work perfectly!  There are no critters down there, its a finished area.  It should be fine just hanging on my wife's clothing rack hahahahaha.

    What is cure #1?  How is it different to salt?  As I recently got a sausage maker, I was thinking about making droewors.  I am actually getting some Crown droewors spice this weekend (my neighbor is an ex-pat).  I dont know what the package contains or what flavor it is (I assume traditional).  I think it calls for salt but perhaps it already contains a cure?

    Here check this cool vid.


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