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What is Biltong?

Biltong (English pronunciation "bill-tong") is the marinaded and seasoned air dried meat product that is one of the best known Southern African delicacies. Not to be confused with the smoked American version - beef jerky - biltong can be made from many different types of meat ranging from beef through game meats to fillets of ostrich. 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 jerk...y in that they are both spiced, dried meats, but differ in their typical ingredients, taste and production process.

 

Dutch settlers who arrived in South Africa in the 17th century brought recipes for dried meat from Europe. Preparation involved applying vinegar, rubbing the strips of meat with a mix of herbs, salts and spices. The need for preservation in the new colony was pressing. Building up herds of livestock took a long time. There was native game about but it could take hunters days to track and kill a large animal and they were then faced with the problem of preserving a large mass of meat. Biltong as ...we understand it today evolved from the dried meat carried by the wagon-travelling Voortrekkers, who needed stocks of durable food as they migrated from the Cape Colony north-eastward (away from British rule) into the interior of Southern Africa during the Great Trek. The raw meat was preserved from decay and insects within a day or two and within a fortnight would be fully cured.

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