FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Step 1: Choosing the right cut of meat is paramount when making biltong as it cant be too fatty or too lean. Over here at MeatMakers.ca, we go with a cut called the Eye of Round, which is located at the rear of the cow.
Step 2: Butchering the meat comes next and its equally as important. For standard biltong we cut with the grain into 2.5cm thick steaks and we use the off cuts for our chili stix.
Step 3: The spices come next and there are so many different variations but over 10 years and countless experiments we think we have come up with the perfect mix, and as it turns out simple is best. We toast some coriander seeds and then grind them coarsely with some chili flakes (for chili flavoured products), then we add salt and pepper.
Step 4: Curing the meat comes next. First, we splash the meat with some organic apple cider vinegar, then we dip the meat into the spice mix and vigorously rub it into the meat. Once all the cuts are spiced, we place them in a container and add enough vinegar to just cover the top piece. Its then placed in the fridge for 24 hours.
Step 5: Up next is drying. We air dry the meat in a specially designed machine that regulates the temperature with warm air which is constantly circulates for 3-5 days.
Step 6: Once ready, we remove and hand cut the meat into thin slices and its ready to enjoy!
We could spend hours on this particular question, but there are three core differences listed below in the production methods.
- The cut of meat, jerky is generally made from a very lean cut that is cut super thin.
- What’s added to the meat is also very different, usually jerky has loads of sugar and nitrates added. We feel this takes away from the meat flavour and really leaves you with whatever you have marinated the meat in.
- Biltong is cured and air-dried, while jerky is smoked and cooked.
Historically, all sorts of game meats were used in Southern Africa such as kudu, springbok and wildebeest.
However, in the modern era, beef is the most commonly used meat. Currently MeatMakers.ca only uses AAA beef farmed in Ontario. The cut we use is ‘eye of round’ which is a lean but flavorful cut that comes from the “round” or hindquarters of the cow. However, we do plan to add more variety such as moose, boar and venison, so watch this space!
Generally speaking, biltong should last for at least 4-6 days once opened before mold may become a problem.
We have found that the best way to extend this is to vacuum seal it, which is how we pack and then deliver our biltong to you.
Once vacuum sealed it can last many months, however we have found the flavour profile gradually decreases the longer its sealed.
The longer you leave your biltong in the vacuum sealed bags that MeatMakers.ca delivers it in, the fresher it will stay but you have to open it eventually right!
We recommend that as soon as you open it you should break the meat apart as it tends to stick together in the vacuum process, this is due to the fats being sucked to the surface.
Once its all broken up, you should store it in a brown paper bag or in a wooden bowl with a cloth cover. The main thing is to keep it well ventilated in a non-humid environment.
Here at MeatMakers.ca, we use the minimum amount of salt needed for the curing process and we don’t add any sugar or nitrates at all.
This generally makes our biltong a very healthy, high protein, low fat snack however it is cured with salt so you should try to only eat it as a snack and not a meal replacement, but good luck with that!
Biltong shouldn’t really expire or go off because of the way it is cured and dried to protect it from contamination, however it really does depend on how it is stored.
Of course the longer you leave it sit, the less likely it will be to hold it’s freshness and full flavor, but the meat itself should not spoil. This being said, biltong’s main enemy is mold. Mold can certainly form if stored incorrectly, usually in a humid environment with little or no ventilation.
We recommend consuming our biltong within 30 days if vacuum sealed and once opened you should eat it within 4-6 days for the freshest flavour!
Biltong can often be extremely high in salt. There are various reasons for this, historically speaking the higher the salt content the longer the meat will last.
However, with modern technology and the fact we use vacuum sealing in our packaging process, we are able to use far less salt nowadays. You should also keep track of the amount of red meat in your diet and biltong is red meat so realistically it should be a snack and not a meal replacement.
Technically the answer is yes, but you need to freeze it whilst its still in the vacuum sealed bag.
Freezing can prolong the life of your biltong by up to a year, however, we find that the freezing process affects both the texture and the flavour so we don’t recommend this unless you absolutely have to.
In our experience, there are only two ways to store biltong once you open the vacuum seal.
The first, and our preferred way is in a clean and dry brown paper bag. If your biltong is quite moist this is fine but you should shake the bag every once in a while to move it around.
The second way is in a wooden bowl with a cloth or paper towel covering it. If you have moist biltong then you will also need to shake or stir it every once in a while.