What is biltong?
Bil-tong “Buttock tongue/strip” is a form of dried/cured meat originating in Africa. It has nothing to do with tongue, but rather thick strips of meat cured with salt, vinegar, pepper, coriander and air dried for several days. Basically, Southern Africa’s version of Jerky.
What is droëwors?
Droëwors is an air- “dried sausage” also originating in Southern Africa. Beef is ground, seasoned and traditionally stuffed into sheep casings and hung to air dry for several days. Spices include salt, pepper, coriander, clove and nutmeg.
What is boerewors?
“Farmers Sausage” is a South African raw sausage in natural casings, similar to a brat. The flavor profile is the same as droëwors (salt, pepper, coriander, clove and nutmeg) and can be made with beef only, or a beef/pork mix stuffed into a hog casing.
What is the difference in air-dried vs dehydrated meat?
Air-dried meat in a controlled environment keeps more of its nutritional values as opposed to dehydration where heat is added. It also leads to a different consistency since it takes longer for the proteins to break down. Air drying does lead to somewhat of a crusty outside but creates a tender inside without the use of sugars. Low and slow vs warm and quick.
Are air-dried meats safe?
Yes, if it is made in a controlled environment. The process of air drying is not a commonly used process due to the risk of bacterial growth. Heat treatments, acids and preservatives like nitrates were introduced to dried meats to prevent bacterial growth. However, there are additional factors that can contribute to prevention of bacterial growth without the use of additives and treatments. Temperature, pH control, humidity and water levels can all play a role in ensuring a safe finished product. Years of case studies and testing have been done in this industry and by our company to support air dried meats as USDA certified ready to eat, shelf stable and safe.
What types and cuts of meat can be used?
Muscles that are lean internally like top round, eye of round and bottom round/silverside are commonly used for biltong. It is a nice solid muscle with little internal fat. External fat on these cuts however can add to the flavor if desired. Sirloin, rump and tenderloin can also be used but can become expensive since you lose about half your weight from raw to dried meat. Beef is the most common type of meat used; however, most any red meat is an option. Many people have great success making air dried meats from venison, bison, and even ostrich.
What is the shelf life?
Three months has been a good number in our experience if stored properly. There is still some moisture to a degree in the meat so direct contact with sunlight and drastic temperature change can cause condensation inside the package and mold.
How do I store your ready-to-eat products?
Unopened our packages can be stored at room temperature. You will want to avoid direct sunlight exposure as mentioned above. Once opened we recommend refrigeration so that the product will not become overly dry or risk spoilage. If consumed in 3-5 days it should not be necessary, but depends greatly on the environment in which it is stored. The products also freeze beautifully in the bags, or you can split the packages into smaller zip-locked bags and refrigerate or freeze. These products have more moisture than traditional jerky and lack the preservatives found in most commercial dried meats – don’t expect the same shelf life and treatment as the “other” jerky brands.
What do I do with whole biltong?
The whole biltong is vacuum sealed in 2lb bulk bags. You will need to open the bag and repackage what you don't intend to eat right away. We recommend wrapping the pieces in plastic wrap and freezing them then taking them out as needed and kept in the refrigerator, this will ensure the meat keeps it's moisture and stays fresher for longer. We also suggest storage in a brown paper bag, this is the traditional way that whole biltong is sold and stored in South Africa. However, temperatures and humidity vary greatly in the US so you will need to be careful that the product does not mold if left at room temperature. For details on how to cut whole biltong please see the video on our Resources page.
Can I refreeze your fresh products?
Yes, if you order fresh sausages or raw meats to make your own products you can repackage and refreeze them. The main thing is to package them in a way that they are protected from freezer burn. This works best If you have a vacuum sealer, but plastic bags with the air pressed out should be fine for a limited amount of time as well.