Biltong is a long standing favourite amongst South Africans and for decades has been one of South Africa’s best kept secrets. Many visitors to the country have been awestruck by the flavours of the dried chunks of beef and game biltong.
What is biltong?
In a nutshell, biltong is pieces of spiced meat that are left to dry by hanging them in a cool place. Biltong differs from jerky in the sentence that it is less sweet, Jerky is thinner than biltong and may be smoked. Biltong typically contains salt, bicarbonate of soda, coriander seeds, vinegar, black pepper and brown sugar.
Scientific studies have found that biltong is more beneficial for one’s health than jerky. Beef biltong which is cut into larger strips than jerky, is air dried up to seven days. Therefore, all the meat’s nutrients stay preserved, making it a very healthy snack. Biltong is very low in fat (3% fat per 25 grams serving) and can be consumed before and after you go for a workout. Biltong is packed full of required protein. If you eat 25 grams of biltong, you would have consumed enough protein to meet half of your body’s daily protein needs. This will help your muscle mass to grow and stay in shape. Biltong also contains minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron and B12 vitamins. These will help your body recover quicker after a rigorous workout.
Enjoy South Africans favourite snack without having to worry about possible health implications.
What is the secret to excellent biltong?
Everyone has their own way of making biltong but in the end, it comes down to your personal preference. Some like a slightly wet biltong whilst others like it dry. However, there are a few important things one can ask the butcher about before you purchase biltong. Ask the butcher if they used plastic or stainless-steel containers during the salting process as opposed to metal or enamel ones. The reason being that the latter will react with the salt and leave a bad taste in your mouth. Have a look to see if the butcher used coated metal, plastic or stainless-steel hooks to dry the biltong. Once again, the metal will react with the meat and the meat will not taste as good as it should. Depending on whether or not you prefer really salty biltong or not, biltong will become saltier as it gets drier. A “wet” biltong will be less salty. This is because biltong gets saltier, the longer it has been left out to dry.
Best biltong joints in Mpumalanga
When visiting Mpumalanga, be sure to lookout for the best biltong in the world. Mpumalanga is home to some of the finest biltong and droëwors establishments and tourists are spoiled for choice. Here are a few suggestions for top shops in Mpumalanga:
Bakgat Biltong (Mashishing and Mbombela)
Biltong Paleis (Secunda)
Meat Delights (Mbombela)
Jannas Biltong (Emalahleni)