Making Biltong

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by wors, Sep 3, 2015.

  1. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    This looks like the real deal.  Wow guy, well done.  Do you have a step by step guide?  I really have to try this ASAP?

    Did you use any curing salt like this stuff?  I posted in the other biltong thread and guys recommended I use this:

  2. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Actually I just read your data summary.  I was very surprised to see this:

    35ºC will enable a microbiologically stable product to be produced in around 6 days (144 hours). A lower air temperature would require a longer drying time and increase the microbiological hazard due to the slower drying rate.

    That's really hot!  My neighbor makes this stuff and insists on doing it during the winter in his basement.  That's why I was going to wait until the winter but it makes sense, South Africa is a hot place.

    So I dont know now.  I guess I will have to build a biltong box now that the summer is over?
  3. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I wonder if I could use my MES 40 as a biltong box?  It should be easy enough to snake a lightbulb through the chip loader.  I also have the Cabelas sausage hanger or could use a grate with some paper clips to hang my strips.  Mmmmm.

    Yeah I think this could work.  I could put the lightbulb under the drip pan on the bottom left, and snake the cable through the chiploader on the bottom right. 

    I would only need a light bulb socket, bulb, and some sort of a cord.  What about mesh for the MES.  Anyone ever done something like this?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  4. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Also, "Topside", is the the equivalent of Top Round here in the USA.  Does anyone know?  I know my neighbor uses London Broil, which I think is the Flank, but I guess you could use either no?

    Costco sells a whole Top Round which I have wanted to test out forever.  $4 / lb?  Cant remember exactly. 
  5. wors

    wors Newbie

    No I don't use any curing salt. I have it at home because I make my own bacon but it is simply not needed for biltong.

    The recipe I used is roughly as follows:

    - 1/4 Cup Ground Coriander
    - 1.5 Tbsp Brown Sugar
    - 1 Tbsp Salt
    - 1 Tbst Coarse Ground Black Pepper

    - 2 Parts: Cider Vinegar
    - 2 Parts: Malt Vinegar
    - 1 Part: Worchestershire Sauce

    - Topside Roast cut into 3cm thick strips weighing approximately 400g each
    - For each 400g piece mix 18g spice mix with 18g marinade then rub over meat.
    - Seal meat in ziplock bag and refrigerate for 7-24 hours.
    - Remove from bag and dry.


    It could do with more salt!!! I like salty biltong personally so will be adding more salt next time. I might use less Worchestershire Sauce as well... maybe.
    That is quite warm (not hot though). The literature on small scale commercial production reports a range between 22-35°C (72-95°F) which is a huge range. I read one report that compared the flavor of biltong made at 25°C to biltong made at 45°C (there was a slight preference for the biltong made at 25°C).

    All that can really be said about this is that there is that you can make biltong in a very wide range of temperatures. I'm sure people even make it at lower temperatures without issue.

    For a microbiological hazard point of view the quicker you dry it the safer it'll be.

    Also some people make it in the winter because in many places it's dryer in the winter and more humid in the summer which makes sense.
  6. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Awesome thanks Wors.  Im definitely going to follow your lead.  Looks like you nailed it.

    Do you think I could use my MES as a biltong box?  I was taking a look at it last night.  I wonder if there would be enough ventilation with just a light bulb?  Would I need a fan too?

    There isnt much space under my water pan to put a light bulb and a fan.  Also, I could snake the wire through the chip loader, but I would also need to cover it with mesh.

    Not sure if it's the best option.  Have any guys used their MES as a jerky/biltong hanger?

  7. wors

    wors Newbie

    I think it would work fine if you get enough ventilation. There is plenty of room in there. You could put a lamp and maybe a small computer fan to move the air about.
  8. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Wors!  So I did a 24 hour test in my garage (where my smoker will be stored over the winter).  Darn its pretty humid down there.  Range was 71%-78% RH, with temps ranged from 66F-68F.  I'm not sure that's ideal.

    My guess is I would need a fan and a bulb, and the air would come in through my chip loader and leave my top vent.  But wouldn't the airflow be too much/too fast with a fan?  I suspect the air coming in through the chip loader will be too humid for the light bulb to dehumidify in time before the air leaves the top vent.

    And if I eliminate the fan, I dont know if the bulb would provide enough airflow for drying and things may get rancid in there as the biltong wont dry in time.

    Mmmmm, I dont know, my gut says I need more planning before I dive in.  I dont want to buy a fan, cables, sockets, bulbs etc if this wont work.  But what do you think.  Could it be done?  If so I'll run out and get the stuff I need this weekend!
  9. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    You can use a computer fan check these links

    Here is a box I sit my MES 40 on

    The wallwart

  10. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    You dont even need an adapter and all that stuff.  Just buy a fan that plugs into an outlet :)

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  11. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    But guys, as a first step, shall I get a light bulb and do a humidity and temperature check?  See if I can get my heat to 72-95°F and my RH to 30-50%?

    And Wors just to confirm, those humidity figures are RH right?
  12. wors

    wors Newbie

    Yeah if you can get your humidity levels down to 30-50% at that temp then you will be alright. But if you can't it might not work
  13. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Already ordered some stuff at Home Depot.  Lock and load!  I will report back next week if I have time to test things out this weekend.
  14. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Also, Im going to try a batch with Prague Powder #1 and one without.  I want to see if there is a diffs in taste. 
  15. wors

    wors Newbie

    Awesome, keep us updated :)

    Out of all the reading and research I did I found this to be the most interesting:

    Traditionally in South Africa, drying of biltong was achieved by hanging the strips of meat on hooks and leaving them to ambient dry.
    - Johannesburg Temps: Day Average(morning.min-afternoon.max) 9.9-22.4°C (50-72°F). Relative Humidity: Average(morning-afternoon) 69.9-40.5%
    - Bloemfontein Temps: Day Average(morning.min-afternoon.max) 8.6-23.6°C (47-75°F). Relative Humidity: Average(morning-afternoon) 64.4-32.8%

    If you can manage to replicate these conditions I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. The only thing you then need to worry about is simply have some fresh air circulate through. The higher heat and lower humidity recommend by the paper is simply to dry the meat faster for safety reasons.
  16. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Hey Wors!  So I did a test with a light bulb in my MES 40.  Looks like it may work!

    Temp after 24 hours = 105F (41C)

    Ambient temp = 67F (19C)

    Relative humidity after 24 hours = 15%

    Ambient relative humidity = 64%

    It looks like the MES has decent insulation and is relatively air tight.  I cant believe a single light bulb can make such a diffs!  So I wonder - I should now probably add a fan to see if 1) I can drop the temps a little by say ~21F and 2) if a fan will up the relative humidity a bit by say ~25%.

    I can also play around with my chip loader to see how the airflow will affect the RH and temps too (it was fully closed for this test but my vent was wide open).  But would you recommend trying a fan first?

    I wonder though, as temps drop in my basement in the winter, how I will need to adjust, because if ambient temps are 2C, Im not sure a 60W light bulb will work.  I will need to figure it out.  It's probably going to be a PITA to calibrate the smoker depending on external temps.  One idea I had was getting a dimmer so I can control the output of the lightbulb and the fan.  What do you think? 

    And for the energy nuts, a 60W light bulb burns 1.33 KWH in 24 hours (equivalent to 1.4 cents per week).  Irrelevant. 

  17. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Wors I found a 120mm fan that does 52 CFM, and a 80mm found that does 26 CFM.  How the heck do I translate CFM into m/s?

    I did some searching and found this calculator but have NO IDEA if this is accurate of if 2 inches is the right input variable (i.e. my vent and chip loader or what?).

    But going by this, it looks like a 120mm fan is the way to go: engg/air flow.htm

  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    26 CFM... if it blows through a duct that is 12" x 12".. that duct is one square foot... one linear foot of that duct makes for 1 cubic foot...

    So, it will blow through 26 linear feet in one minute.... 3.28 feet = 1 meter.... 26 / 3.28 = 7.93 meters per minute / 60 = 0.132 meters per second...

    The whole thing is converting a volume measure to linear measure...
  19. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Dave the recommended air flow is 2.5 to 3 m/s.  How does this reconcile with your 0.132 m/s number?
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
  20. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just WOW!

    Great write up, excellent advice, and very nice end result!

    points for sure!

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