Biltong is dried meat. It can be made with beef, poultry, fish, or game meats, as long as the result is appropriately flavoured, air-dried, and rendered delicious! Think of your favourite cured meat, but denser and richer. That’s what biltong is right.
Where Does Biltong Originate?
Biltong has been around for centuries with roots tracing all the way back to South Africa. Before fridges and freezers, indigenous people needed a way to preserve meat for future meals. To do this, they used what they had available. The meat was cut into strips, flavoured and preserved with salt, and then hung to dry.
When European settlers arrived, they saw the benefits of preserving food in this way. They soon adapted the process, adding vinegar ,and salt and pepper.
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In the 19th century, thousands of Dutch farmers made a mass migration to inland Southern Africa to avoid British rule in Cape Colony, known as the Great Trek. For this journey, they needed food that was portable, non-perishable, and that gave sustenance. Biltong was the ideal solution. The Dutch named the cured meat; biltong is a combination of the Dutch words ‘bille’ (buttock) and ‘tonghe’ (strip or tongue).
Since then, biltong has become one of the most popular snacks in South Africa and is enjoyed all over the world.
How is Biltong Created?
Biltong is made without heat. It is air-dried for up to a week by hanging it on hooks. Biltong uses vinegar, both white, brown, and apple cider, as a curing agent, not for taste. The extra ingredients, as well as the week-long process of aging, gives biltong a very distinct taste.
Beef is the most commonly used for biltong. The meat is cut into strips that are about an inch wide, sometimes thicker. The cut shouldn’t be as thin as beef jerky.
The vinegar and spices used in the production process of biltong also add some extra flavour . It’s now common to find biltong with different flavours, which include peri peri, chilli chutney, barbecue, garlic and many more. The array of choices continues to vary as demand for the product continues to grow.
What Are The Benefits of Biltong?
Biltong is pure meat, which makes it an excellent source of protein. Biltong made of beef will provide half your daily protein requirements.
Beef is packed with more micronutrients, including iron, zinc, B12, B6, and selenium, pound for pound than almost all other meats. All of these things could help to build muscle, repair tissue, boost your immune system, and promote healthy brain and body functions.
All biltong has benefits, but beef biltong, in particular, holds onto most of these important proteins, vitamins, and minerals. This is because the meat is air-dried, without ever being heated or dehydrated. This makes it healthier than a protein bar and much more satisfying to eat than a bag of potato chips. Biltong is also naturally low carb, low in sugar, and completely gluten-free. This means you can enjoy this delicious snack whether you’re allergic to gluten, or eating paleo, keto, or Whole30.
There are so many benefits to biltong and the question has also been raised if it can replace a protein shake and the answer coming up a lot “is yes it can”. With biltong’s high level of protein it’s also sweeping across the health and fitness industry, whereby individuals are swapping out their protein shakes for biltong with high protein contents.