Biltong, a traditional snack, is a form of dried cured meat. Various types of meat are used like beef and game e.g. Springbok, Kudu, Gemsbok and Ostrich. Biltong is typically made from raw strips of meat following the grain of the muscle or flat pieces sliced across the muscle grain.
Meat preservation is a survival technique dating back to ancient times. European seafarers preserved meat for the long journeys while discovering new countries and continents. They used salt or brine. The settlers arrived in South Africa in the 17th century and used vinegar for their curing process as well as saltpetre. They knew that the saltpetre kills the deadly bacteria that causes botulism while the acidity of the vinegar inhibits the growth of Clostridium botulinum.
Biltong today is evolved from the dried meat carried by the Voortrekkers, who needed durable food as they migrated from the Cape of Good Hope colony into the interior of Southern Africa. The meat was preserved and hung to dry for a fortnight during the colder winter months. The colder temperatures helped to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi. After drying the biltong was packed in cloth bags for later use.
In traditional biltong recipes the meat is required to be marinated in a vinegar solution for a few hours or a day. The vinegar is poured off and the meat is then flavoured with salt and spices, like whole coriander, slightly roasted and roughly grounded black pepper.
Biltong is not just a snack it can also be a main ingredient in pasta, on pizza, in salad and we at Safari Ostrich Farm make an ostrich biltong pate.
Ostrich Biltong Pate Recipe
200g mushrooms, finely cut
1 small onion chopped
1t bell pepper chopped (optional)
100g grated dry ostrich biltong
250g smooth cream cheese
250ml fresh cream
2t sherry or port (optional)
Fry the mushrooms and onion in the butter until soft. Keep aside until cooled down.
Add all the ingredients together in a food processer and mix well. Spice with salt and black pepper. A little bit of sherry or port can also be added.
Serve the biltong pate with fresh bread.