WHAT IS 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 related to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats, however the typical ingredients, taste and production processes differ; in particular the main difference is that Biltong is typically much less sweet than jerky
The History of Biltong…
The word biltong is from the Dutch bil (“rump”) and tong (“strip” or “tongue”)
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. After European settlers (Dutch, German, French) arrived in southern Africa in the early 17th century, they changed the curing process by using vinegar, saltpetre and spices including pepper, coriander and cloves.
The need for preservation in the new colony was pressing. Building up herds of livestock took a long time but with indigenous game in abundance, traditional methods were available to preserve large masses of meat such as found in the eland in a hot climate. Iceboxes and refrigerators had not been invented yet. Biltong as it is 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 and north-eastward (away from British rule) into the interior of Southern Africa during the Great Trek.The meat was preserved and hung to be dried for a fortnight after which it would be ready for packing in cloth bags.