An Easy Recipe and Directions for Making Biltong at Home.
The high quality organic biltong in this article was made at home and took about 1/4 hour of prep time and cost less than $15…!
Printable Biltong Recipe Infographic – save or open in new window to print
Ingredients for approx. 2 lbs of meat:
– 2 lbs good beef cut (or venison if you have available)
– White distilled vinegar
– Worcestershire Sauce
– 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (more or less to personal taste)
– 2 tablespoon black pepper (more or less to personal taste)
– 4 tablespoons of ground coriander powder
– 1/4 cup of whole coriander seeds (these will be roasted in a pan then crushed and applied just before drying)
– 2 tablespoons of raw brown sugar
– other optional ingredients: paprika, cayenne pepper (for spicier biltong – not much needed..), crushed dry garlic, any other herbs and spices that you want to experiment with.
Start with a cut of good beef such as sirloin. I have used approx. 2 lbs in this example – about 5 lbs or more is good if you have a larger biltong box or dehydrator. The recipe is easily scaled for a larger batch. I believe that good cuts of beef, all natural (raised without antibiotics or added hormones, non GMOs) – even better all grass fed – makes the most tasty biltong, “bleddie lekker” as a South African would say! See this article for more information on what beef cuts and grades to use to make biltong.
1. Cut the beef into flat strips of about 1 inch deep by 2 inches wide. Be sure to cut the strips with the grain and if possible leave a thin strip of the fat on one side
2. Mix 3/4 white vinegar and 1/4 Worcestershire Sauce into a large flat dish deep enough to cover the meat strips. Lay the strips in the vinegar mix for 2-4 hours to absorb and begin the curing process. When finished this initial curing remove the strips and squeeze and pat dry. You can keep the vinegar/water mix for rinsing the strips later (see below).
3. Mix the spices (excluding the ground coriander seeds) and layer onto the bottom of a dish or plastic container that is large enough to lay the meat flat. Stack the spiced strips on top of each other with a layer of spices in between each. Press spices into the strips. Set aside to cure for 6 – 24 hours. The longer you leave, the more the biltong will absorb the salt, pepper, coriander – i.e. if you prefer biltong more natural then cure in the spices for less time. I left this batch for approx. 6 hours.
4. Remove the spiced strips from the dish and rinse in the vinegar/water mix from 2 above. Most of the spices on the outside of the meat should wash off. Squeeze or pat dry. Leave more or less of the spices to your taste.
5. OPTIONAL – ADD CRACKED CORIANDER SEEDS (I believe this makes the best, most authentic biltong but is not necessary). Lay the meat down and apply the coarse ground coriander seeds to the outside of the meat in sufficient quantity to stick to the strips. Optional is to slightly roast the coriander seeds in a pan before crushing them. This brings out more flavor from the seeds. Crush the seeds in half in a small mortar bowl (so you end up with a lot of halves that will stick nicely to the biltong) or (the easy way) is to put the seeds in an old pepper or spice grinder that is set to grind very coarse.
6. Apply hooks to one end of the strips (I just bend open metal paper clips for the hooks) and hang in your biltong box or dehydrator. Depending on the thickness of the biltong, drying method, climate and taste preference it should take from 3-6 days for the biltong to be ready for eating. During this time you can gently pinch the pieces to check for dryness and/or cut off pieces to sample to check for readiness.
7. Remove from Biltong box once done to your liking. This “small” batch I removed after 3 days and was slightly wet inside. Store biltong in the fridge, especially in warm climates. Never store in a plastic bag unless vacuum sealed. Refer to this article for more information on proper storage of biltong.
This batch of biltong cost less than $15 to make and my total time spent was less than 1 hour..!
Biltong Stokkies (Snap-Sticks)
An alternative to making larger pieces of biltong that need to be sliced (as described in the article above), biltong snap sticks (biltong stokkies) are quicker to make and very convenient for taking with you to sports events, traveling, golfing etc.
The meat is cut into thinner strips and you do not need to soak in vinegar or brine in the spices for as long as the larger pieces. In addition the drying time is significantly less.
Follow these easy steps:
- Cut the strips into about a 1/2 inch wide, soak in vinegar/Worcestershire for about an hour, squeeze dry and brine in your salt/pepper/coriander/sugar spice mix for about 4 hours or longer).
- Rinse some of the spices off then place the meat into your biltong box or dehydrator.
- You can also use your oven, set at the lowest temperature (usually around 170 degrees Fahrenheit) with the door cracked open an inch to allow airflow.
- The biltong sticks take less time to dry so check their progress at regular intervals and take the sticks out when they are dry (can bend but not break – i.e. not too brittle).
- I use my Excalibur dehydrator at a temperature setting of 130. Depending on the width of the sticks it take from 6-12 hours. Using your oven can be as quick as 4 hours.
A nice option if you like spicy food is to make chili bites / snapsticks (AKA peri-peri biltong stokkies). See this article for more details on making chili bites / snapsticks.