What is Biltong


South African Biltong

Biltong can also be gluten-free, sugar-free with NO e numbers and packs a wallop in protein levels!

What is Biltong?

It was a typical question people asked a few years back.

“It is a simple, but wonderful food”. It’s dried beef, flavoured with salt, herbs and spices.

It is often confused with Beef Jerky, but they are worlds apart!

The word is made from two Dutch words meaning “bil” ‘which is the buttock of the animal’ and “tong” ‘which is a strip of meat’.

It is associated with South Africa, but it is now being made and sold in many countries around the world.

Best Meat To Make Biltong?

It is made using silversides of beef, carefully cut into strips and air-dried in a biltong dryer or if you’re making it at home in a biltong maker.

Other meats, such as fish, chicken, wildebeest, kudu and ostrich can be used to make biltong. The best ‘biltong’ is made using fresh young beef as the meat is more tender.

Do not use pork as the meat is not suitable for air drying.

It can be made here in the UK. For the best South African recipes, use the finest prime beef from local, closed-herd, grass-fed cattle, Biltong flavours include Original, Chilli, Chutney, Peri-Peri and Garlic.

Biltong Facts

Other versions come in Halal and Venison, Gluten Free and sugar-free.

Many diets recommend it. Sports people use it for its protein value. Not only that, there are some fantastic nutritional results too. Sports centres, athletes and gym goers use it, including some high-profile bodybuilders.

Biltong History

It can be traced back to prehistoric times as humans learnt to domesticate animals such as Cows, Sheep and Horses, our ancestors evolved, and they learnt new survival techniques, preservation was a valuable skill.

They learnt to preserve fruit and vegetables and dried meat as it was an essential part of the of the daily routine.

When Dutch settlers arrived in South Africa, the hot climate made it essential to find a way to store meat without it spoiling.

The resourceful ‘Voortrekkers’ had to find another solution.

The Dutch experimented with flavours and added spices to the meat. It was found by adding salt and spices to the meat and hanging it out to dry. Soon it became hard on the outside while capturing rich flavour on the inside. This allowed the biltong to be stored for a long time

They experimented and dried sausages and found comparable results, and this created DroeWors another South African food sensation.

How Do You Make Biltong?

You can make it at home, use a biltong making kit to make it quickly. It takes four days drying time before it is ready. Make sure you think how you like it before you start, your options are wet, medium or dry, some fat or no fat.

Most ‘red-blooded’ South Africans eat it wet with some fat.


You can test to see if its ready by pressing on the dried meat with your forefinger. When it feels firm on the outside but slightly soft on the inside, then it is ‘medium’.

Press the outside of the meat and it feels slightly moist, then it is ‘wet’.

A hard press on the outside and it comes back firm means it is ‘dry’.

Dry wors / droewors and boerewors are another South African treat made from beef/pork.

The best way to enjoy it is with a biltong cutter. You can slice the biltong to your required thickness and enjoy it.

About Gareth 16 Articles
I am a keen biltong enthusiast, I like to keep to the traditions that I learnt when I grew up in South Arica. Please feel free to comment on our recipes and join in with ideas.

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