Biltong for expats

I decided to create this post for two reasons: one to record for myself my biltong recipe which would evolve over time, and two, for some of those South Africans living abroad, who are missing the real stuff.

This is a recipe which I’ve found and adapted by taste, and am on the fourth round at the moment, after a few failed attempts (the first one being a big one). I’m still making in small quantities:)

Step 1, make your spice mix

The starting point is the spice mix, and mine is below. I might be reducing the smoked paprika volume, but we’ll see after the next, tightly controlled batch

Spice Mix
Ingredient Quantity(g)
Coarse ground dry roasted coriander seed 300
Smoky paprika 90
Paprika 30
Cayenne pepper 30


Step 2, make your cure

This is simply a 50/50 mix by volume of the spice mix and cure, with 1 Tbsp of bi-carbonate of soda, which keeps the mold away. You’ll have to tweak this for yourself, but this works for me.

Step 3, cut your meat

Generally silver-side is the best price flavour ratio, and that’s what most people use. Slice this with the grain, about 20mm thick, the most important thing is to keep the thickness consistent. To avoid ‘issues’, or big mistakes, I got a whole silverside, sliced it all and froze it in smaller packs.

Example piece

A power-user tip: don’t leave the meat defrosting while you’re not at home. we did that last night, and our princess Siamese cat ‘opened’ the packet, and ate half of one of the pieces!

Step 4, cure the meat

This is where most of the flavour develops, and the meat is being salted for preservation at the same time. Measure out your cure based on meat weight. For the current batch, I’ve used 6.5% cure to meat ratio. Rinse the meat in vinegar, I use plain old brown vinegar, and will try others as I go. Squeeze off excess vinegar from the meat, and layer it in a non-metal container, some cure first, then meat, then cure etc. Leave this for six hours. The longer it stays, the saltier it will be, so its best to control this. Its also good to drain off the liquid, as this helps manage the saltiness.Silverside on cure

 Step 5, finalise and dry

After you’re happy with the curing process, wash off the spent cure wi th a 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 hot water mix, and pat the meat dry. Now spread out some spice mix in a flat container, and dredge the meat in it, to get a nice coating of spice mix. This develops flavour and also keeps the mold away.

Nicely coated

Ready to go in the drier

Hang up in your biltong maker for as much time as you need, which will depend on temperature and humidity. Two days works for me.

The biltong cabinet I use is the one shown in the picture, very cheap (about US$ 30), and does the job. It has a built in fan, and a place for a light bulb, which I don’t need, but those in colder and wetter climates may need to use it.

Mellerware biltong cabinet

Step 6, the finished product!

The end result 1

The end result 3The end result 2






Step 7, some variations

  1. For the hanging, only use coriander. It makes for a lighter flavor, although the smokiness from the paprika comes through nicely.
  2. Use only coriander (roasted, of course) for both the initial cure and the hanging. Also makes for a nice change, especially for my wife who prefers plainer food. I like the first variation the best, as I think it gives the best of both worlds!

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