South Africa has many products that is synonymous with the country, but one such product is growing in popularity on the international front: biltong.
Biltong is dried cured meat and for many outsiders considered the same as what the American call “jerky”. It’s not the same! In the world of cured meats, biltong is purely South Africa and processed in a completely different fashion and can be made from the wide array of local game animals and not just beef.
What’s the difference?
– Biltong in its basic form is a large section of quality meat, brined and seasoned, dried in the open air with low humidity to cure, and later sliced into pieces.
– The word jerky now includes a wide variety of dehydrated foods, but generally speaking, it includes various cuts of meat (traditionally beef) cut into thin strips or minced, seasoned, and slow baked or smoked to expedite the drying process.
The word “biltong” originates from the Dutch words “BIL” implying the buttocks (the cut of meat favoured for this delicacy) and the word “TONG” meaning strip.
In the article, Khoisan to thank for the love of braai, biltong: Nation’s meat favourites had practical origins – study presented by The Herold (South Africa), 10 Nov. 2017, brings to light the scientific studies that trace the origins of this immensely popular snack.
The Khoisan people’s incredible survival and hunting skills and their ability to preserve meats were key to the expansion of this snack. Traditionally they would dry their meats in the open air. Their skills and knowledge was later imparted to the European settlers, where flavours, herbs and spices, and other cooking styles and techniques were subsequently added by the slaves, and ethnic minorities and groups — this evolution in the process of making the cured meat brought forth what is now known and enjoy throughout the globe as the ever delicious South African biltong.
You can read the full article here.