What is biltong, and how does it compare to other cured meats

What is biltong, and how does it compare to other cured meats

Staying true to your diet and health goals can be a challenge when you’re a habitual snacker. Luckily, you can overcome this problem with the help of Biltong. This is a healthy snack that will not only make dieting easier but also help with your fitness goals. But what exactly is this food, and how does it differ from other cured meat?

In this article, we’ll discuss the answers to all these questions. By the end, you’ll be excited to try the snack and incorporate it into your diet.

What Is Biltong?

Biltong is a delicious type of cured meat that originated in South Africa about 400 years ago. Initially, the method of making the snack was pretty simple. People would slice the beef, cure it using salt, and then hang it up to dry. 

However, European settlers introduced additional ingredients like vinegar, cloves, spices, pepper, and cloves into the recipe. The added twist to the snack resulted in a blast of flavours that have made it very popular in the U.S. as well.

How to Make Biltong?

The best recipes for this cured meat typically use high-quality steak because beef is readily available. To make the snack, you’ll need to do the following steps:

Prepare the Meat

First, take the piece of meat and clean it of all the extra fat. Next, slice it into pieces. Note that the thicker the slices, the more time the meat will take to dry. So, the recommended thickness is typically 1cm. Also, make sure to cut along the grain instead of across to get the desired chewy texture.


After the meat is prepared, put the slices in a container. In that container, pour some vinegar and work the beef into it so that all the pieces are completely covered. Leave the meat in the vinegar for no longer than half an hour. This will help with the preservation but will not significantly affect the final flavour of the food.   


Once the marination is complete, it’s time to season the meat with spices. You can experiment with spices and their quantities as per your taste. Just don’t forget the salt, as it’s necessary to start the drying and preservation processes. Other spices to add to the dry rub include pepper, chili flakes, crushed coriander seeds, etc. Mix these in a bowl and then rub the mixture onto each slice.

After rubbing the salt and spices all over the meat, use hooks to hang the slices in a drying box. If you don’t have hooks, you can even makeshift paper clips to create a similar structure. Then, leave the slices to dry for at least 4-5 days. 

Remember, the longer the strips hang, the more they will dry. After the drying is complete, you can cut the slices into small pieces, as thick or thin as you want. Finally, keep the slices in a sealed bag or air-tight container, and they’ll last for weeks.

Is Biltong Healthy?

Yes, the cured meat is completely nutritious, which is why it’s one of the best healthy snacks to buy. It is high in protein while being low in sugar and carbohydrates. The fat content can differ, mainly depending on the cut of meat you choose. Overall, 1 oz of beef Biltong only has 80 calories.

Additionally, there is no processing or artificial flavors involved in its making. As a result, you get an all-natural snack that is not only delicious but also high in nutrition. So, you can eat it without any guilt of compromising your diet or fitness.   

How Does Biltong Compare to Other Cured Meats?

Biltong is completely different from other cured meats. It’s most often confused with the very popular beef jerky, but there is a big difference between the two. The following are some of the main differences:

Flavour and Fat Content

Biltong vs jerky is the debate in town nowadays. Beef jerky is often smoked, which brings a smoky flavour to the meat. It’s also completely fat-free. Biltong, however, has a unique flavor because it is not smoked and involves marination in vinegar for curing. Plus, you can control the fat content in the snack depending on the cut of meat.

Way of Making

Another difference between the two foods is how they are made. Jerky is dehydrated by heating, while Biltong is air-dried for many days. That’s why you can often control how dry, soft, and chewy you want it. Jerky, on the other hand, is mostly dry.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, Biltong is a unique cured meat because of its preservation and curing methods. While the snack seems similar to other cured meat, it isn’t. This is because while other meats use heat for dehydration, these meat slices are air-dried.

So, if you’re trying to stick to any kind of diet, Biltong is the perfect solution to your snack cravings. It’s also a good, long-lasting food for outdoor escapades like camping and hiking.