What's the difference between Biltong and Jerky?
Beef jerky and biltong may look similar but believe us they are very very different.
Beef jerky has been around for a long time now. In fact it dates back to an ancient Inca Tribe, who coined the term ‘ch’arki’ (which we know as ‘jerky’). It just means dried and salted meat.
Others believe it was discovered by North Americans, with the word ‘jerky’ coming from ‘charqui’ a Spanish for dried strips of meat. But no one is 100% sure.
Since drying meat is one of the oldest and most commonly used methods for preserving food, it’s no wonder people get confused when looking at the two. Most countries have their own methods of drying and curing meat. So really, we can never know for sure where it comes from. But we can all agree that whoever discovered it was really on to something.
Typically, when we talk about jerky you're looking at thin slices of lean beef, dried low and slow Now a days you will see it being dehydrated in large machines. There are a few different ways to create beef jerky, but smoking, salting, and dehydrating are the ones you’ll be most familiar with. Why so much salt? It helps gently draw out the moisture giving it a massive shelf life.
However 'what is biltong' really It’s been creeping into the market more and more over the last few years, but it’s never been as commercialised as beef jerky. We think that's really odd as it is made with far better natural ingredients and normally dried over a much longer period of time, normally its days rather than hours.
So what is it that really sets biltong apart from its beef jerky ? It’s all in the seasoning blend we use. The raw meat is coated in a unique, aromatic spice mix, made up of traditional rock salt, ground roasted coriander seeds, and black pepper. Each and every producer should have its unique spice mix that's what sets them apart from other producers. It's sad to say that many use a stand commercial available blend that can be bought anywhere. We believe by having a unique blend that we have formulated gives our Biltong flavour you have got to know and love making us truly stand out from the crowd. However vinegar is what makes a real difference. Different producers use different vinegars yes it makes a difference to the end result. As well as curing the meat as it dried, vinegar gives it a distinct layer of flavour, and tenderises and sterilises the meat.
All this is to make sure the meat air-dries just right. It needs to be in a place with plenty of air circulating allowing the meat to realise its moisture , and can take between five-eight days, everyone has their own idea of what is just right or perfect and we more than most get that. Some commercial producers today use dehydrators to producer Biltong; this is normally due to wanting to make the process quicker. We don't use dehydrators in any way, this is due to the fact that your end product we think is more like jerky as the drying process is far far quicker than it should be. If you try to dry your meat (Cut the original Biltong way) quickly you end up with a hard case surrounding the meat and far too wet on the inside of the meat causing it to at times rot and turn rancid. So to overcome this some cut the meat into thinner strips therefore as you can imagine you end up with a product that is more like Jerky due to the rapid drying process.
There are a few ways to tell if your biltong is ready. To start with it will have reduced to half its original size there or there about. It’ll also be firmish to feel, but will bend a little without cracking, and will have turned a shade of rich maroon in colour. However again everyone is different there is really no right or wrong way the way you like your biltong.
When biltong is fresh, you can eat it within three days (if it lasts that long), but when stored and packed just right, it can last 5mths months. And that's why it was used for travellers many years ago.
Compared to jerky, biltong has a much meatier, deeper flavour intense at times . Jerky can be insanely tough, where biltong is tender and slightly chewy. Plus Biltong is much healthier due to the curing process (and low fat, low sugar content) to the way that it is made.
Our process for making Biltong has been designed to reproduce the Original South African way, very slow gentle movement of air in rooms that we have total Humidity and Temperature control over. This we believe gives the final result the perfect finish every time just like it should be.
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