Making Biltong

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

2. daveomakSmoking GuruOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

That all depends on the size of the curing chamber...

Directly out of the fan, if it's a 4" x 4" fan, 4 x 4 = 16 sq. in... 144 sq. in. per sq. ft...... 144 / 16 = 9... Soooooooo, in a 4" x 4" area, the velocity would be 9x's higher than a 12x12 area.... or, 0.132 m/s x 9 = 1.12 m/s

You need to start with the size of the chamber, and work backwards to determine the fan size...

Any small amount of air flow would be good.... Too much and case hardening will happen.... if the meat is thick, say 3/4" thick, that could be a problem.... especially if the humidity is low....

Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
3. mummelMaster of the Pit

Well what if I put the fan inside my MES, let it circulate, and then let air escape naturally through the top vent (vs putting a fan on top of the vent to pull the air out)?

The MES 40 dimensions are 40.1"H x 19.7"W x 25.6"D (so say 660 sq inches).  I dont know what the diameter of the top vent is (waiting to hear from the BT thread).  But lets say an inch to account for the damper.

Soooo in this case, would you put a 80mm or a 120mm fan inside the smoker? (and keep in mind the fan will go under my water pan, so the air will be deflected somewhat.

Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
4. daveomakSmoking GuruOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

Screwed that up...

Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
5. daveomakSmoking GuruOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

That would be good.... as the meat dried the humidity would go up... and the meat would gradually dry as the moisture left the meat... That adjustable speed fan looked like the good one to get... makes up for odd size chambers....

6. mummelMaster of the Pit

I ordered the 120mm AC fan.  Only has one fan speed.  I will report back once I've tested it.  Thanks for your help!

7. 5pmbbqNewbie

Looks great! We haven't tried topside, we usually use london broil or brisket, depending on price. We will have to give that a shot.

8. mummelMaster of the Pit

Wors!  Thanks for the inspiration.  I decided to finally make some droewors.  Here's my thread:

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/235700/droewors-south-african-dried-sausage

I have a question about when to pull the meat.  I havent thought far enough in the process to target water activity etc.  I dont really understand it either haha.  But I assume I should weigh the meat before hand, and then pull it when it weighs 70-75% of the original weight?  Is this correct?

I forgot to weigh this batch.  I will check on it on day 3 and test it, see if it breaks with pressure etc.  But are my weight targets correct?  TY!

UPDATE: here, this part:

- The use of weight loss during the drying of biltong could provide a useful indicator of water activity. Raw meat has a water content of around 75%. Reducing the weight of the meat by a factor between 3.75 and 2.5 during drying will produce a product with the required moisture content of around 20 to 30% and corresponding water activity around 0.7 to 0.75. In addition, the drying process should designed to decrease the water activity quickly to prevent microbial growth but not so quickly that case hardening occurs.

If my stick weighs 100 grams before hanging, what should it weigh when it's ready?  TY TY!

Last edited: Sep 28, 2015
9. daveomakSmoking GuruOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

When determining weight loss, don't forget to subtract any water weight, to get the correct initial starting weight of the meat...

10. mummelMaster of the Pit

Why not just factor that in, weigh the meat as its being hanged, and then figure out what the end weight should be to get a dry exterior/moist interior product?

11. crankybuzzardSmoking GuruStaff MemberModeratorOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

I weigh the meat "hanger" before putting it up with all of the meat on it, and then start weighing after 3 days.  When I get a 50% (+/-) weight loss, I know it's done the way I like it.  Now, for this to really work well, your strips all need to be pretty close in size and thickness.  I used to weigh each piece, but since I went to using eye of round, I can get my sizes pretty close and do a hanger weight.

I have some drying now that was at a 44% loss as of yesterday.  Should be done today if it goes like it has been, but, just like cooking a pork butt, stalls occur...

12. mummelMaster of the Pit

Cool thanks.  That sounds like a much easier method.  Weigh the whole lot, target 50% weight loss, done!

13. mummelMaster of the Pit

One thing I dont get is that I can hang meat for a week and it wont spoil??  My mind has a tough time wrapping around that idea.

14. crankybuzzardSmoking GuruStaff MemberModeratorOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

I now use cure #1 with mine, but prior to this year, I never did.

I soak my meat in ACV for a minimum of 1 hour, depending upon thickness.  Allegedly, that is supposed to assist in preventing spoilage along with the salt.

The one time I did have a problem was when my meat was accidentally exposed to direct sunlight while drying outdoors.  I moved the hanger to do something and didn't realize that it would be in direct sun in Texas, during Summer temps above 100, for 3 days!!!  I ended up with case hardening and it got really nasty....
As for the 50% weight loss, that's how I like it.  Some like it wetter and others dryer.  Sample a small slice at several different loss percentages and keep notes about them to see what you prefer.

15. daveomakSmoking GuruOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

If you wet brine the meat, or somehow add water to it.... you need the original meat weight before you do that.... Example... If you add 10% water to 500 grams of meat, you do not start the % weight loss from 550 grams.... you start from the original meat weight of 500 grams...

16. crankybuzzardSmoking GuruStaff MemberModeratorOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

I've never wet brined my biltong, but I'm wondering if the vinegar adds much, if any, weight. However, after pulling the meat from the vinegar, it gets dried, and then coated with the curing/seasoning mix. Once coated, it's placed on racks to cure for a minimum of 24, preferably 36, hours. During that time, I lose a LOT of water.

I'll make another batch this coming weekend and do the following weight checks:

Weight pre vinegar
Weight after vinegar
Weight after dry cure
Weight after drying

17. dirtsailor2003Smoking GuruOTBS Member

Man that sounds like a lot of math! I do math all day long at work. I think I'll stick to jerky!

18. crankybuzzardSmoking GuruStaff MemberModeratorOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

Ha! I'm an Excel Workbook FREAK! Workbooks for cooking, knife angle grind calculations, heat treat formulas, ham radio antenna length calculators, and one for my beer making!

I have workbooks for all my sausage, jerky, biltong, etc., recipes configured to where I can plug in the weight of the meat and it calculates the spices and cure required.

I'll just add a section for the weights and have a formula to do the math for me. Simple, right? :biggrin:

19. mummelMaster of the Pit

I think we're all a little bit obsessive in some way. That's why we're on this forum lol!

20. crankybuzzardSmoking GuruStaff MemberModeratorOTBS MemberSMF Premier Member

Obsessed? Me? Never!

I wouldn't argue over being under by .1 gram of sage, ever! Well, maybe once, but after a while, he saw it my way! :yahoo:

Yeah, when it comes to my hobbies, I tend to try and accomplish the best there is to do. That's why I may go several months without posting here; I've accomplished something and moved over to a challenge in another hobby.

But there's always something else to make, create or do! Can we ever really perfect a recipe? Nope!

Crap, you're right, I'm obsessed!