Biltong questions?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by tgil, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the thoughts Dave...Your method is sound and certainly a good alternative to the traditional method. My problem with the traditional method is that it wasn't designed with curing salts it mind. i.e. the meat is only in contact with the salt  for a short duration, plus distributing such a small amount of cure #1 equally in the salt is also an issue. My theory with trying the EQ method is that the meat would only be in cure for 24-48hrs at most.
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. dingo007

    dingo007 Smoking Fanatic

    Absolutely. Some have fans in them...personally I think the heat source/convection is sufficient.
  4. That box has seen plenty of action over the past few years. During the summer down here, I have substituted a 20 watt bulb and still generated enough air movement to dry the meat in an average of 3 days.
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I would think that where I live right now I could set the box outside and that'd be more than enough heat, but probably not enough moisture.
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    This is where the Baking Soda plays a role....The Baking Soda, reduces the Acidity, chemical reaction, but leaves the Flavor of the Malt Vinegar for your enjoyment. You can increase the Baking Soda but go a little at a time, 1/4 (1.5g) to 1/2 (3g) teaspoon and Taste the liquid. Some Sugar will help balance the Acidity as well. Add to taste...JJ
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There is an awful lot of discussion here about Cure #1...Myth #1...Sodium Nitrite kills ALL Bacteria...FALSE!  It's primary use is to control Clostridium Botulinum, the Bacteria that causes Botulism. Our concern with CB is when Smoking Jerky at temps below 160°F and Smoking other meat at temps below the USDA recommended 225°F. Smoking and burning the fuels we use, Electric included, create a low Oxygen environment that can foster the growth of CB without Cure #1. The other major concern for CB growth is the LOW temp Smoking of Ground Meats, like making a variety of Smoked Sausages. This is because the center of the meat is Oxygen free. The other major Bacteria of concern controlled with Cure #1 are Clostridium Perfrigens and Listeria Monocytogenes, both are only a danger in low Oxygen or Low Temp Smoker prepared meats. Cure has little to no effect on Gram Negative Bacteria, which include the Food Borne Illness causing Bacteria, Haemorrhagic Escherichia coli(E-coli O-157), Campylobacter Jejuni, Salmonella, Pfeiffer bacillus (Yersinia) and Shigella. Of all the remaining Bacteria of concern here, Basic and Frequent, Hand Washing and maintaining Sanitary  Work Surfaces and Tools will go A LOT farther then worrying about using Cure #1...With Salted, Air Dried Intact meat like this Biltong and a variety of other Non-Smoked Jerky Recipes,...It just don't matter if you use Cure #1 or not. This is why there is so much info on making Biltong in a variety of Boxes, with some method of moving Air and hundreds of Recipes with no mention of Cure #1, at all... The reality of it is, when it comes to the production of Biltong... If you follow Food Safety and Sanitation Procedures, there is a greater risk of getting sick from indulging in the Cure Paranoia and using Cure improperly, than just following the many Recipes that contain Salt, Vinegar and Spices!!! recipe

    The number 30% Weight reduction has been discussed...That is fine if you want a Tender Product that MUST BE REFRIGERATED. If the end result is to be stored, shipped or whatever, at room temp...A 60 to 70% weight reduction is necessary. This will reduce the Aw (Water Activity) below 0.8 to inhibit Bacteria and Common Mold growth. The common Name Brand commercially produced shelf stable Meat Snacks and Jerky have their Percent Moisture reduced to Below 41%. See Chart Below...

    Be Safe and have Fun...JJ
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
    dirtsailor2003 likes this.
  8. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I really want to try this soon.  The amount of info is overwhelming.  I will sit down at some point and come up with a game plan. 
  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great Post JJ. There have been so many people on this forum who ask about why store bought jerky can be shelf stored, now we have a post we can point them to when they ask!

  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Important note when drying meats to be shelf stable and safe from microbes.....

    Each meat muscle group has a different % moisture content..... Therefore, when reducing the moisture through drying, a "standard" percent moisture loss, say "reduce the weight by 30%" is not necessarily true or safe.....

    Also, when using a ground product to make a "dried product", the original weight of the meat and spices, WITHOUT the addition of any liquid, is needed as a starting point to calculate moisture loss....

    If you open the link below, you will find a chart showing different cuts of meat and their respective percent moisture content...

    Reducing the weight of each cut by 30%, as an example, does not necessarily meet the criteria for an acceptable Aw (water activity level) for a safe, shelf stable, product...

    50% lean pork trimmings = 39% moisture
    pork cheeks = 67% moisture
    pork fat = 6% moisture
    beef chunks = 61% moisture

    The water activity level that limits the growth
    of the vast majority of pathogenic bacteria is 0.90, a
    water activity of 0.70 is the limit for spoilage molds,
    and the lower limit for all microorganisms is 0.60. The
    2005 U.S. Food Code, in the definition of Non-
    Potentially Hazardous Food, has established two
    interactive tables involving water activity and pH levels
    critical for shelf stability. Heat-treated products with a
    water activity level of
  11. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Hey guys.  So I threw in 8 strips of top round on Friday for my first test batch (recall I had huge success with the droewors).  Last night I tried the smallest piece of biltong.  I think I messed this batch up completely.  Are we only supposed to sprinkle kosher salt on it, not completely cover it?  I caked mine in kosher salt (like really caked it), but I may have got the instructions wrong.  I also caked the meat in black pepper and coriander (coarse ground).  It tasted salty (like pretty salty, but not cant eat it salty), but I think the herbs were more of a problem. 

    Also, the little strip I had was very hard.  It was dry on the outside, but raw'ish on the inside (I still ate it, it was fine).  But I wonder if my pieces are too thin???  I cut them maybe 0.4 inches but now that they dried, they look super thin.

    Final judgement is reserved until Tuesday night (4 days, which I think is the right time in my box), but I think this batch is a wash.  Any tips?
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  12. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When you say you caked the salt on, was that for the curing period over night, or is it still caked on?  A little salt goes a long way.

    As for the raw inside, it will be pink to red on the interior, soft as well.  One thing you have to mae sure of is that you don't get case hardening by drying too hot or too fast.

    I cut my strips, with the grain, to about 1.5" wide by about 3/4" thick.

    Do you have MS Excel?  If so, I'd like to send you over the biltong calculator I made and use...  Still in Beta, but has worked for the 1 batch I tried with it.
  13. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Crank, I used this recipe:

    I let the kosher salt sit for 1.5 hours then shook off what remained.  I salted it like you see in the pic (scroll down).  I also caked on the Coriander just like in the pic (didnt really look at the salt/herb measurements, eye balled it). 

    I should have waited until the final product before trying to critique my results, but I suspect this batch is a wash.  Any ideas?  I will take a pick of the final results but here's a preview. 

    Crank, I also found this on my droewors post:
    My humidity last night was 24%.  I ended up closing my chip loader because the temps were too low (70F vs the recommended 90F, cooler temps in the Fall).  But I think that resulted in the meat drying too fast.  Again, all speculation.  Final result arrives tomorrow night, but I suspect this batch didnt work out.   
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  14. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Case hardening is a good possibility given the humidity levels...

    I saw this when I went to the site you reffered to:  Pour the apple cider vinegar into a large bowl and after 1.5 hours pick up each steak and using a knife scrape off  as much of the rock salt as possible  (it has done it's job). Then, depending on the size of the steaks place them one by one (or two at a time) into the vinegar and submerge them for between 2 to 4 minutes. The vinegar bath helps with the curing process.
  15. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Hey Crank!  I actually pulled all the pieces last night.  They were not half bad!  Maybe like 75% on the way to perfection.  The taste was good.  Not sure where that salty and overpowering herbs taste went????  The only thing I would do differently is cut the pieces larger so that they can be wetter inside.  Oh and I should also use like 1/10 of the spices next time.  Most of the coriander fell off.  The pieces were very tough and I prefer my biltong moist.  Cant wait to do another batch! 
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  16. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

  17. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks good from here!  Do you have a sliced shot of the inside?

    One of the great things about our hobby, if you take good notes before, during, and after, you can recreate or make tweaks with the next batch!
  18. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Thats why I love this site.  I can keep coming back to my old posts.  No pic of inside.  The pieces were too thin.  They were uniform colored.  They were probably 1/8th inch?  Waaaaay too thin.  Not sure what I did haha.  I cut up the whole round that night.  Hope there are some larger pieces.......
  19. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Hey Cranky - anyway to get my biltong more tender chewing wise?  Its coming out great.  Moist inside, hardish shell.  But it's tough to chew.  I'm using a whole top round from Costco.  Any ideas how to make the biltong softer/more tender/easier to chew?  TY!
  20. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    What about adding sodium bicarbonate or brown sugar?  At the moment Im just grinding coriander, and sprinkling on kosher salt, ground black pepper and the coriander (after soaking it in vinegar + worcester sauce for 1 hour).  Will brown sugar make it softer?

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