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Step by Step guide to Making Biltong

How to Make Biltong (South African Beef Jerky)

There is nothing better than having a snack for the road, fishing, camping and even for the kids to enjoy at school.

Biltong is a cured meat that can be enjoyed by everyone.

It started in South Africa when the Khoikhoi people developed a method to preserve meat without refrigeration.

Biltong evolved and the settlers who had to travel via wagons with durable food, would dry their meat for a fortnight, which would then be packed into clothes and carried across the nation to where they would settle.

Today Biltong is the staple snack for almost every South African and it can be bought in any grocery store or butchery. There is a fun process for those who love to make their own as they can add flavours and spices of their choice to suit the family taste buds.

Delicious home made Biltong

Delicious home made Biltong

Home Made Biltong Recipe

Meat for Biltong

Biltong can be made with any meat including Venison. The better the cut and grade of the meat, the better the biltong will be.

Silver-side is the best meat to use and you can ask your butcher to cut it into 1cm thick strips and as long as you need it to be to fit into your biltong maker.

The Biltong maker can be bought in many stores and you can even make your own maker too.

It is a lot easier to buy it but it is fun to make as you can add spices that you enjoy to personalise the flavour.

Making your own spices can also be fun because you can mix and match flavours until you get the taste that you enjoy.

Spices can be whatever you like to taste including chili flakes, black pepper to give it a very dominant pepper taste and you can also add paprika.

It is up to you but the standard biltong is black pepper, salt, coriander and the vinegar mix.

Many people have tried biltong covered by chocolate which has an unusual taste and for this recipe I am giving you my brother's original taste as it went down well with the entire family.

Fillet steak has also been tried but the silver side happens to be the best for texture and taste of the biltong.

Venison is nice if you like the taste and I found that it comes out a little tough, perhaps this meat is good for dry biltong only.

Ready to cut and eat

Ready to cut and eat

A guide to good biltong

Follow the ingredients and instructions below to make your Biltong. It must be done carefully and you do need to use the correct meat. Don't take any shortcuts as you do not want to get sick. It is a meat product and must go through the correct process.

Ensure that when you do put it into the vinegar mixture, you remove the salt and excess liquid. Don't take shortcuts on the meat that you use because it will change the taste of your biltong.

You can add other spices and for a chili taste, add chili powder or use your imagination.

If you don't have the time to make your own then you can order ready to hang biltong from the butcher, already prepared with the spices.

Check your biltong to see if it is ready, some people like it to be dry and others like wet and fatty pieces, which means that you will just have to check it often.

Once it is ready to eat, you can remove it from the biltong maker and cut it into chunks or slices and serve.

Keep it hidden from the kids or else you will have nothing left by the time you get home from work!

Silverside meat soaking in the vinegar mixture

Silverside meat soaking in the vinegar mixture

South African Biltong Recipe

  • 2 kg beef or venison (silverside or topside)
  • 3 cups coarse salt (not sea or table salt)
  • 2 cups soft brown sugar
  • 5 ml bocarbonate soda (this softens the meat and prevents mould)
  • 2.5 ml coarse ground black pepper
  • 12.5 ml coarsely ground coriander seeds
  • 1.5 cups /100ml brown vinegar/ Worcestershire sauce, mixed
  • 1 teaspoon salt petre (gives it a red colour)

How to make Home made Biltong

  1. Cut the meat into strips of 1cm thickness
  2. Layer in a bowl with the vinegar/Worcestershire sauce for half an hour
  3. Mix all the dry spices together, you can add your own extra's
  4. Roll the meat into the mixed dry spices in a clean bowl
  5. Allow the meat to draw in its own brine for 3 hours. Keeping the thicker pieces at the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Remove the meat and put it back into the vinegar mix for 10 mins to rinse off the excess salt
  7. Remove again and wipe the meat with the same vingear to ensure that there is no extra salt stuck onto the meat
  8. Squeeze the meat with your hands to make sure that there is no liquid left on the meat
  9. Hang until ready
You can add chili flakes or other spices into the dry mix

You can add chili flakes or other spices into the dry mix

Notes on Biltong making

Keep the area clean to avoid flies and insects.

You are working with raw meat so that will attract flies and if left too long will cause bacteria.

To prevent mould, hang the biltong pieces away from each other and do not place them so that they touch or it will mould.

Always monitor your biltong and you can decide whether it is ready or not.

Depending on how you like your biltong it takes about 2 to 3 days to cure and if you want it dry then it takes about 3 to 4 days.

Spice mix for Biltong

Spice mix for Biltong

How to prevent mould on Biltong

A few simple precautions will prevent mould on Biltong, especially the wet type. It goes mouldy after a few days and to prevent it from happening to biltong that you buy or make there are a few simple steps to follow.

1. Mould is likely to occur during hot and humid times, especially in the coastal regions.

Avoid putting your biltong maker in a humid and damp surroundings.

2. Mould will occur if the biltong pieces touch each other during the hanging period.

Avoid the pieces touching and spread them out

If mould starts up it rapidly spreads so you need to prevent that from happening as it will affect the rest of the batch.

3. Don't hang the meat out in a musty room which has been closed up for months.

The fresher the air the better the ventilation.

4. A kitchen that is very compact can create steam and highly humid conditions.

Put your biltong in the kitchen only if it is airy and spacious.

5. If you spot a bit of mould quickly dip a cloth into vinegar and remove any trace of mould. The vinegar kills all traces of the mould spores, leaving you to continue to let the biltong dry out.

Rubbing mix for Biltong

Rubbing mix for Biltong

Leave the biltong to dry in a cool area that is not humid or damp

Leave the biltong to dry in a cool area that is not humid or damp

Your biltong must hang separately and avoid the pieces touching to prevent mould

Your biltong must hang separately and avoid the pieces touching to prevent mould

How to make your own biltong maker

There are so many ways to make a biltong maker and all you really need is a well ventilated box with a lid, a light and a fan. It is easier to buy one and they are not expensive, considering how much money you will make if you decide to use it for a little home business.

The youtube video will show you how to assemble the biltong maker and it is very simple and easy to use.

Ensure that when you are done making the biltong, things are cleaned very carefully to avoid bacteria on your next batch.

Enjoy making your biltong and don't be afraid to use your imagination when it comes to spices.

You will finally find a winning recipe that could be exclusive to you and your family that can be handed down from generation to generation.

© 2014 Natasha Pelati


Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on January 18, 2015:

Yes Vinegar is good for a lot of cleaning! I do enjoy what it does for Biltong!

Yuuji on January 13, 2015:

Vinegar all by itself does wedrons. I also use it in my laundry in the first rinse to be sure all the soap has been removed from the clothes (soap residue causes the clothes to soil again more quickly).Baking soda is also pretty amazing, but I don't think it will clean windows or tile. It will clean stains, it can clean a stainless steel sink, and you can even brush your teeth with it. A lot of people don't like that idea, because it doesn't taste good, but it freshens the breath, too. Used according to directions, it is also a good antacid.My laundry soap contains baking soda.

Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on April 16, 2014:

Oh terrific, glad to hear it

ramon on April 16, 2014:

I have tried this recipe and it is easy, the biltong was a success!

Thank you

Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on March 18, 2014:

Croatia is beautiful! Thank you it is not to difficult to make and tastes fantastic

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 18, 2014:

Wow! Bilotong was one my best snacks back in SA I so miss that will have to try to make it in Croatia.The step by step process is easy to follow and you explained well.

Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on February 26, 2014:

Thank you! It is delicious

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on February 26, 2014: sound interesting for amazing culinary. Actually, I had never heard about Biltong. But thanks for sharing with us. I give my vote to this hub. Take care!


Natasha Pelati (author) from South Africa on February 25, 2014:

Hi Paul, thank you! Another name for it is hindquarter or rump roast.

Sallybea - I found biltong at Harrods a couple of years ago when I lived there but I couldn't afford the price!

I am not sure if I like the hanging process but once it is off there it tastes delicious!!

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on February 25, 2014:


I saw some Biltong being sold in a UK supermarkets last week.

I recall seeing it hanging from metal hooks in our local trading store when I grew up in Zululand.

I notice that Paul Edmondson asks about the cut - Silverside is the cut of beef from the hindquarter of cattle, just above the leg cut. It is known as bottom round in the USA.

There are so many lovers of Biltong living all over the world who will be delighted to make use of this information. Thanks for sharing.


Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on February 25, 2014:

This is really interesting. I've made jerky, but I'd like to give this a try. I'm not familiar with the silver side cut. Is there another name for it?

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