Forget jerky - make yourself some biltong :-)

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by curious aardvark, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. I used to work with a couple of physical therapists from South Africa that told me about this biltong. I never understood the exact process but this makes it sound so simple, I would be interested in seeing box dimensions and what do you catch any drippings in, also is there any smell involved in the process.
  2. smok'n steve

    smok'n steve Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I am with WD on better pics of your cardboard cooker---LOL

    Richtee---where are you???????????????????
  3. smok'n steve

    smok'n steve Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bumping this back up--pretty interesting read from overseas!
  4. monty

    monty Master of the Pit Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey, Curious Aardvark!

    Thank you for creating this thread and bringing something new and different to the SMF family.

    And I applaud your excellent narrative as well as your timely response to questions.

    MossyMO said it first and he is absolutely correct; this thread should be a sticky and I will make it so as soon as my post is through.

    Once again, thank you for bringing this to us!

  5. smok'n steve

    smok'n steve Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For those of you who aren't sure, I think a sticky is a thread that stays at the top of the list in its forum category, so that it is easy to find?

    Just kind of realized this myself--always learning!!!!!
  6. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Awesome post, I started researching this and it looks like a no-brainer

    check out this video

    This guy hangs the whole hunk of meat as opposed to slicing it.
    Which way is preferred?
    I would imagine the sliced before drying would give more spice flavor and the sliced after drying would give it more of a meat flavor
    Think of all the propane you can save. [​IMG]

    I'm going to do a few different batches of Biltong, Beefsticks and Smoked Jerky and take them on our annual Guys away from the wives and kids camping trip and let them compare it.
  7. lol now that's overkill on their biltong box. Cardboard box, straightened coat hanger for the rails and plastic coated paper clips for the hooks work just as well. Well mine's been going for years now :)
    That's one of the beauties of biltong, less preparation than jerky. But realistically you generally don't want anything much thicker than 1 - 1 1/2 inches - or it just takes too long to dry :)

    But you just get a hunk of sliverside and slice it into inch strips. I tend to cut a narrower strip than him - again because it dries quicker, so you can eat it quicker :)

    Don't follow his spicing/curing method though. you DO NOT want to salt the meat first. Not if you want it to taste good :)

    In fact apart from the biltong box the whole video is bloody awful.
    Follow my recipe :) Even the south africans who've eaten my biltong agree it's better than the stuff they get at home :)

    You don't need to pre-salt, you don't need to leave the meat for 12 hours before hanging.

    Attached pic of hook made from a small paperclip - this will hold a 1/2 lb strip of meat easily. If you want to go for the big stuff - just use a larger paperclip :)
  8. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member mentioned you wold post MORE info on your box, and how its constructed..........
  9. aargh - something weird happened to this topic on my computer - it no longer shows me pages of posts I have to go back to the sodding top of the page each time I want to see the next post. Really really frustrating.
    As I'm supposed to be working ;-) I'll instead go and take some more pics of the box and measure it up :)
  10. I bought my box from a mail order company some years ago. Seems odd but it was £20. Came with everything needed to make biltong. Trays, box, rails, bulb in holder etc. I'd been researching home made biltong for a couple of years an just never got round to making a biltong box - so the biltong factory was ideal.
    And given that it's done sterling service for the last few years I certainly don't feel shortchanged :)
    The original biltong factory was developed and marketed by a chap who subsequently sold out to a larger company.
    Oh yeah if you buy the current kit I would strongly recommend throwing away the biltong 'spice' that comes with it.
    They sent me some a few years ago after I'd reviewed the box. And it was crumbled up beef oxo cube with a little coriander. Use my recipe and make your own :)
    Actually given that they want £49 ($85) for the current kit - just go get a lamp kit from a hardware store and snag a big cardboard box and a roll of duct tape and a couple of coathangers, a handful of paper clips and make your own :)

    At the time I bought the box I'd been buying biltong mail order. It was expensive and often had large amounts of fat, which I'd throw away. So I boght the kit and haven't looked back since :)

    The box itself is composed of 3 parts. A base, a lid and the middle 'square tube'. All made of standard grade box cardboard.

    Height - 30 inches.
    11 inches square.
    The base and lid are 2 inches deep and 11 1/4 inches square to fit snugly over the tube.

    The heat source consists of a 40 watt bulb mounted in a standard bayonet bulb holder screwed to a piece of mdf. A standard lamp cord passes through a small slit in the base to a switch followed by a plug. In other words it's a standard lamp fitting without a lamp :)

    The 2 hanging rails are thin steel rods. Straightened out coat hangers would do fine - as might bicycle wheel spokes. I've wound masking tape round the ends of the rods that stick out from the box for the obvious reason od stopping them being pushed inside.

    The drip tray stands on a randomly folded bit of cardboard so that it's about 3 inches above the height of the bulb. This could be easily improved on - but it works so I haven't bothered :)

    I can 'biltong' about 4 lbs of beef at one go in this little box.
    Bear in mind you start with large strips and end up with smallish sticks
    Good biltong #is ready when the outside feels hard but you can still feel a little give in the stick. When cut through it should be a uniform dark red shading to black (no nitrites/nitrates needed to do this ;-)

    To answer a couple of questions.
    1) there is no smell - I keep and run my biltong box in my bedroom. (not strictly true - it smells fabulous :) Better to say there is no strong or objectionable odour ;-)
    Follow my method and recipe and I guarentee it will both be odour free and very few drips make it to the drip tray. Those that do tend to evaporate over the course of the 3-4 days anyway :)

    Pics attached.
    Enjoy :)
  11. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Thankx CA.............great job, and i can't wait to try ambient temps make a diff. on drying times. Such as a hot day, they mite cure up faster, as opposed to a cold day, which mite make em go abit longer?
  12. quite probably - but as I said mine lives in my bedroom - which is pretty much stable temp wise.
    The purpose of the bulb is not actually to heat the box but to generate a constant air flow over the meat.
    The hot air from the bulb rises creating a constant warm air flow over trhe meat :)
    The meat is air dried rather than heat dried.

    Most dehydrators use this principle as well by using low heat and a constant air flow.

    Biltong can be made (so I've heard) very quickly in an electric dehydrator. But would it be the same ?
    I dunno. The 2-4 days the meat hangs must help work the spices deeper into the meat, you'd think. But as there is no such thing as a cheap dehydrator in the uk I'll probably never know :)
  13. supervman

    supervman Smoking Fanatic

    This is something I'm going to do.
    I should think that if you want to make your own box (as I will) that using one of those cardboard CLOTHING MOVING BOXES would work quite nicely.
    You can get em at U Haul places and I think some of those Mailbox stores.
    Nice, sturdy, tall, you can cut to size.

    Note: If you are considering making one out of wood make sure you don't use a particle board or composite. The glue fumes will poison your meat, but I'd bet 99% of the folks here already know that.

    Heck those U Haul clothing boxes "might" be enough to cut in half and make two biltong boxes. Gonna try it. THANKS!
  14. well we've just bought a new upright vacumn cleaner - box is about the ideal size. I could make two biltong boxes - but given the price of beef in the uk I could never afford to use 2 at the same time anyway.
    Ask around your friends for boxes.

    I think I did mention it in the first post. But I have tried a variety of different meats.
    The best - at least according to my dad, who does all the shooting lol - is pigeon breasts.

    Don't know if wood pigeons are the pest in the states that they are in the uk. But if they are, use whole pigeon breasts, there's pretty much nothing else on the pigeon worth eating anyway.
    Use small paperclip hooks between the breasts and hang to or three together.
    Really great biltong. Actually given I've just made a load of biltong spice in my new genie and we've got loads of pigeon breasts in the freezer - I'll combine the two tonight :)
  15. Did you know that a Pigeon's feathers weigh more than his bones?

    How's that for a morning "who gives a sh*@"?

  16. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey superv thanks for bringing that up, heres what I found out

    MDF can be dangerous to use if the correct safety precautions are not taken. MDF contains a substance called urea formaldehyde, which may be released from the material through cutting and sanding. Urea formaldehyde may cause irritation to the eyes and lungs. Proper ventilation is required when using it and facemasks are needed when sanding or cutting MDF with machinery. The dust produced when machining MDF is very dangerous. Masks and goggles should always be worn at all times. Urea formaldehyde is always being slowly released from the surface of MDF. When painting it is good idea to coat the whole of the product in order to seal in the urea formaldehyde. Wax and oil finishes may be used as finishes but they are less effective at sealing in the urea formaldehyde
  17. I rest my case :)
    A cardboard box is cheaper than mdf and won't poison you !
    There was a spice cart in the mall today that was closing down so I too all his coriander seed off him for silly money :)
    now where are those pigeon breasts....
  18. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    i can't believe that a 40-60 watt bulb would get SO hot as to release harmful are really not HOT smoking the meat.........pips here use OSB for COLD smoking, knowing the temps are going to get that high
  19. if you read the mdf post it says that mdf - CONTINOUSLY gives off formaldehyde - whether it's heated of not.
    And no, a biltong box shouldn't get very warm. But hey, if you have to have a wooden box - use plywood or cheap pine, or pallet wood - or anything but mdf :)
    When I get a food thermometer I'll check the box's temp.
  20. hi i am new too the forum and just started looking into making my own biltong any tips or help is much appreicated and any planes that could help me make a biltong box

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