Making Biltong the right way

Heat vs airflow– which matters most in your biltong box? it’s a question we’re often asked. Airflow will always be the most important thing to consider in your biltong dehydrator- but the answer can get a little complex. Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to consider.

Making biltong the right way

Biltong is an air-dried cured meat and not cooked in any way you must always remember that, Jerky is dried at a far higher temperature giving a totally different result.

Ideally, you will just need to apply a low level of heat during the drying process, as too heat destroys vitamins and will adversely affect the flavour profile of your biltong. However we live in the UK and not the beautiful South Africa where the climate is almost perfect for making Biltong like you would expect. So a little heat if best.

By adding to much heat and not enough airflow you will not create succulent, properly preserved and safe Biltong, but you’ll get an unhygienic mess that will taste bad and could carry bacteria.

And we have some many eager home biltong makers across the UK thanks to our purpose built Biltong Dryers. Everyone lives in different climatic conditions, and these can have an effect on the biltong making process. To make a great piece of biltong, three factors count:

  • Strong uniform airflow
  • Meat is hygienically protected
  • Moisture does not ‘hang around’ the meat but instead is removed from the box

Let’s talk about biltong box airflow

So our Biltong dryers have been built around these simple principles.  The biggest influence on making amazing biltong is the airflow and how good it is. When we say good we mean how uniform and free flowing is it not to much but just enough is key. You cannot simply drill big holes in a wooden box and leave it at that- those big holes will allow flies, other pests, and bacteria to land on your meat. That's why we use a fan powered by a reliable, shaded pole motor. The injection moulded, non-flammable black thermoplastic impeller is housed within a die cast aluminium frame, which is painted black to resist moisture and corrosion. And our air in lets are made from stainless steel and are hygienic and the perfect size to allow a uniform air flow . Cheaper less reliable fans (Plastic) and vents (Mess over holes in a wooden box) can be used but why would you risk it?

When it comes to the direction of airflow, the fans should be drawing air out of the box, not pushing air into the box. This prevents the ambient moisture around the meat from becoming high enough that it encourages mold or bacterial growth, and allows air to naturally dry the meat. It’s important to hang the meat with enough space for airflow between pieces, for this reason. 

 

Are Light Bulbs needed?

Mentioned earlier, you need the right heat, airflow, and moisture balance to make a success of biltong making. The ideal climate is warm (not hot), dry, with steady reliable balanced airflow.

This doesn’t need to be very strong, as that also runs the risk of drying the outer layers before the inside of the meat. You just need enough to keep drawing air through the box and pulling the released moisture away.

If you live somewhere chilly, it will take a long time for airflow to draw the water from the meat and finish the curing process.

So that's why we have added a light bulb to our biltong dryers. Having a light bulb means that the air is slightly warmed around the meat. However, this needs to be very carefully balanced. However we have found in most case here in the UK a simple low wattage light bulb produces the perfect conditions and results every time.

Biltong should dry to ‘semi-moist’ within 24-48 hours, and should not take longer than a week even if you like it crisp. This can vary dependant on how you like your Biltong and especially here in the UK with our widely varying climate.

So with all this taken in to account we have designed and built the perfect Biltong dryer for anyone wanting to make their own at home. 

Just click here to order and see our full range of Home Biltong Making equipment.