Biltong part 2

UPDATE 4/20/2014: I was referring back to this post to make another batch of tasty, tasty MEAT and realized I skipped writing down a step between Part 1 and Part 2.  Sorry about that!  Here is the missing info:

After your strips of vinegary, salted, optionally spiced meat have sat in the fridge for 24 hours, give-or-take, it’s time to hang them to dry.  Select a place where insects and critters can’t get at them i.e. outdoors probably won’t work. Since I have a big basement with a cement floor, I used that. You can also use a dog- and cat-proof room inside your house.  Spread newspaper on the floor to catch any drips.  String some twine, thin rope or clothesline across the area. Get some large metal paperclips and sterilize them by boiling them in water for five minutes.  Allow them to cool off.  Then unbend them into S-shapes. You are now ready to hang your biltong!  Take a piece of meat and skewer it at one end with one of the hooks on your S-shaped paperclip.  Then hang the other end of the paperclip over the twine.  Proceed with hanging the other pieces, making sure that the pieces do not touch one another. The idea is to have full, 360-degree airflow around each piece.

Following up on Biltong part 1: when we last met, I had a basement full of slimy pieces of the hanging meat on day 3raw meat hanging from the clothesline with paper clips.  Newspaper was spread on the floor beneath them to catch bloody drips.  Mmmm, I’m hungry already!  OK, not really.  But I will be… in 3 to 10 days, which is how long it should take the biltong to “cure”.  How long it takes depends on variables such as temperature, humidity, and air flow in the area where you hang the meat. I was careful to make sure that none of the strips were touching one another. It’s winter in New Hampshire, so the air is pretty dry here right now. But I really had no basis for judging how long it would take for them to dry, never having done this before.   Therefore, I used the highly scientific method of waiting three days, then eating a piece and seeing if it made me gag.

2014-03-18 test pieceOn day 3, I took a fairly small piece off the line, removed the paperclip (protip: do NOT consume metal paperclips), and cut it in half on a cutting board. It looked like this.  I hesitantly put a piece in my mouth. It… was… AWESOME.  Seriously. I’ve never been a big jerky fan, and I have always disliked chewy meat, but this was moist and tasty. I really liked the taste of the freshly ground black pepper. It was so good, I stood there by the cutting board, chopping off more small pieces and “testing” them (hey, it’s important to be thorough and to replicate one’s experimental results!) until there was none left.2014-03-18 chopped

I probably should have taken down all the pieces at that point, but I hadn’t planned ahead by having mason jars cleaned and ready to go, so I let the meat hang until day 4 while the mason jars were drying.  On day 4, I removed all of them from the line, removed all of the paper clips (none of them broke, but it did take a bit of wiggling to get them out of the thicker pieces), and packed them into mason jars.  I was short one jar, but an alternate form of storage is to wrap each piece in aluminum foil and then put them in a sealed baggie.  Biltong stored in either manner can last 10 years without refrigeration.

2014-03-19 apocalypse soonAnd… voila!  I’ve got three pounds of longlasting, portable, and *delicious* dried meat.  Nothing even went wrong!?  (Note that it’s been over 24 hours since I ate the test piece, and the only discomfort I’ve experienced is emotional frustration from not allowing myself to EAT MORE BILTONG!)

Bring on the zombie apocalypse. I’m ready.

2 thoughts on “Biltong part 2

  1. The second I read the word “biltong” I switched tabs to the search engine to find recipes — which were readily available — and I’ll be doing some soon. Like as soon as I can find a good-looking piece of beef with enough fat.

    I suspect I’ll be able to use my food dessicator for drying. If you’re experienced with biltong, what would be your thoughts about using the dessicator instead of “natural” drying, if you have the time to reply. I’m thinking that the dessicator, which I’ve had for years, keeps dust off the food and the heat is controllable, which makes the time for drying controllable. Theoretically, the faster the drying processes, the safer and the more meat dried in a shorter time, so more can be produced more quickly.

    I’m intensely interested in preserving of meat, and would like to experiment with fish as well. We’re not yet in NH but getting our house ready to sell. Hope to be in Maine this summer, so will visit NH to scout towns where we might like to locate. Love the idea of being free-er.

    Best wishes to a free woman!

    • Thanks for the feedback! I don’t know much about dessicators, but I’ll ask the Free Stater who taught me the air-dry method to chime in with her thoughts. Definitely check out NH this summer; you’ll love it here!

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