Biltong

Meat preservation as a survival technique dates back to ancient times. Indigenous peoples of Southern Africa, such as the Khoikhoi, preserved meat by slicing it into strips, curing it with salt, and hanging it up to dry. European seafarers preserved meat for their long journeys by curing meat in salt or brine. European settlers (Dutch, German, French) who arrived in southern Africa in the early 17th century used vinegar in the curing process, as well as saltpetre (potassium nitrate). The potassium nitrate in saltpeter kills Clostridium botulinum, the deadly bacterium that causes botulism while the acidity of the vinegar inhibits its growth. According to the World Health Organisation, Clostridium botulinum will not grow in acidic conditions (pH less than 4.6), and therefore the toxin will not be formed in acidic foods. The antimicrobial properties of certain spices have also been drawn upon since ancient times. The spices introduced to biltong by the Dutch include pepper, coriander and cloves. Recently, a research group at the University of Beira Interior in Portugal tested the antimicrobial properties of coriander oil (coriander being one of the main spices in the most basic of biltong recipes) against 12 bacteria strains, and found that 10 of the 12 strains of bacteria were killed with a relatively mild concentration of coriander oil (1.6%). In the two strains that were not effectively killed, B. cereus and E. faecalis, the coriander oil reduced their growth significantly. [Read More]

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South African Biltong
Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat that originated in South Africa. Various types of meat are used to produce it, ranging from beef and game meats to fillets of ostrich from commercial farms. It is typically made from raw fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. It is similar to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats, however the typical ingredients, taste and production processes differ. The word biltong is from the Dutch bil ("rump") and tong ("strip" or "tongue").
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Instructions
  1. remove fat from meat, and cut into 1 inch wide and 1 inch thick strips.
  2. lightly mist both sides of meat cuts with vinegar.
  3. using coarse salt, coat the meat on both sides liberally .
  4. sprinkle black pepper on both sides to taste.
  5. lightly sprinkle corrriander on both sides .
  6. hang strips in dry area and check on daily. Will take several days to fully cure.
  7. After meat is cured store in plastic bag and place in cool area, until ready to enjoy.
Recipe Notes

You can also dry larger sections of meat, but give it more time to cure as the meat is thicker and takes longer for the salt to push out the moisture. It is recommended when curing larger portions of meat to use a bit more salt. Condensation or moisture may appear on the surface of the meat as the salt pushes it from within the meat. This is normal and you should move it to an area that gets a light breeze or direct a fan on the curing meat.

This is the traditional South African recipe for biltong and is more than a thousand years old. As with any curing process be sure to make certain the meat is fully cured before consuming and that there is no mold or discoloration on the surface of the meat or within, discard if mold or discoloring occurs, as this is a serious sign of contamination and may contain botulism .

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Travis Toler

Son of James Ivan Toler and Carol Ann Vadeboncoeur Toler

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