When i moved to Wales almost 2 years ago, I knew I would miss billies. I just knew it.
I mean I remember how much I missed it when I did my short stint as a vegetarian and that was only 9 months!
Living in Wales means we are far away from the “Saffa” shops that sell the legendary goodness and so after our last trip back to rainy, wet and cold South Africa in April, I decided it was about high time I actually figured out what to do.
So in typical tech fashion I jumped onto bing (yes, I choose to use bing over google) and started my research.
What I found was not only interesting, but also surprisingly simple!
So what do you need to make biltong?
A drying place (box, cupboard, open areas…)
Vinegar (preferably apple cider but any vinegar will do)
Yup. That really is it.
So I live in Wales and it is quiet wet round here so I figured that a drying box would be my best bet as it would be easier to control the airflow a little better in a confined purpose built space.
I built myself a lovely little box with 6 pieces of MDF, drilled a few holes in the side and cut a hole in the top into wich I inserted a small desk fan.
Many folk will tell you to use a lightbulb. This is simply used to create a convection current that will cause air to flow over your meat. I elected not to do this because I live in farmland and wanted higher speed air so that no flies bother my treasure…
I grabbed two high flow computer fans at $9.99 each and slapped them onto the top of the box. They are 12v DC so I dug through my man drawer and found an old cellphone charger that output to 12v DC and hey presto, working drier box.
Couple of aluminium rods across the top to hang stuff off and we’re good to go.
We looked into loads of recipes and methods and the first thing that became clear is that barring adding too much salt, it is actually quite difficult to stuff this process up.
We ended up rubbing salt in for an hour, adding WAY too much coriander and not crushing the pepper up enough on our first attempt.
The biltong was great, albeit a little thin and as such no pink wet meat in the middle, but hey, after all the work scraping off the coriander that was a small price to pay 🙂
The next batch we did saw us much more prepared.
We got thicker cuts of meat, we roasted and cracked the coriander and used less than half the amount, and ground up the black pepper much more… Totally deliscious…
Now I am on my way to London with a sample piece to share with some saffers in the office.