Someone mentioned Biltong in another forum I use, and got me interested in making it. I found a website (down at bottom below) with lots of advice on making whole muscle charcuterie and decided to give several of them a whirl. Anyone else make this kind of stuff? I got interested and am having fun with the process of making it for the last few months. Who knows, maybe I’ll burn out on it soon and it’ll just be a flash in the pan, but I’ve enjoyed it so far.
Here’s some Biltong I made, complete with Doggie1 salivating in the background. I got 9 pieces like what is shown from about 3.5 pounds of bottom round that I’d butchered from a sirloin tip subprimal. It shrank quite a bit so the cut pieces you see do not represent the thickness of the bottom round pieces; rather, I cut them on the bias to make them wider. Good stuff, though.
Here below is what I used as a drying chamber. It’s a Sterilite-type tub with screen-covered holes drilled along the bottom for air inflow, bigger hole in the lid for a variable speed fan to draw air through, dowels mounted along the top and a socket for a 40-W incandescent light to add a bit of heat.
The second photo below was inspired by one of my daughters who said, “Aw, look, you’ve got a little jail for your meats!” I guess it does sort of look like they’re in jail.
I like the Biltong pretty well - especially the flavors imparted to the beef from the cure/marinade, and the beefy flavor itself, but decided I don’t like that much coriander flavor, so I rinsed off the outsides after the drying step. Still lots of coriander flavor but not quite so overpowering.
In the last couple of days I used the same box to make 3.7 pounds (starting weight) of jerky from the bottom round of another whole sirloin tip that I broke down, which yielded about 1.4 pounds of jerky. I rigged up 3 floating cooling racks, vertically, using paperclips as stringers. Took about 28 hours to dry in this box (using hotter lamp as mentioned below).
This is really bad lighting for the photo (sorry!) but I think you can get the basic idea. I wanted it a bit warmer for jerky v. Biltong so I used a 74-W incandescent (100-W equivalent “energy saver” bulb that draws 74-W). I had to tent over the bulb with a foil arch because I was afraid of marinade drips hitting the hot bulb and exploding it. Also it got very hot under the bulb (and this transferred through to the table it was on - unfortunately I “smoked” the urethane finish a bit) so I wrapped a flat dishcloth in a foil packet and put it in the box under the bulb as insulation.
On to other cured meats!
In the extra fridge in the basement I have hanging L-R a cured eye-round for Bresaola (Italian), a flattened (20 pounds weight several days while it was curing) beef tenderloin for Basturma (aka Pastirma and others - Armenia/Turkey/Greece/others - note traditionally this is eye round not tenderloin), and the white end of a cured pork loin for Lomo Curado (Spain).
On the rack on the bottom are Capocollo (Capicola, Gabagool - Italian) and another eye-round that I’m dry aging before I cure it for a second batch of Bresaola. This photo was from 2 weeks ago - the Lomo Curado and Capicola are now vac-bagged in the upstairs fridge trying to get the moisture to equilibrate a bit because they developed a bit of a hard rind - not very palatable! This fridge is too cold and too dry, really.
Here’s some stuff I’ve recently completed, as-sliced:
At the top is the Capicola - you can see from the piece at the top left, the portion overhanging the plate, that it’s still got some over-dry rind. This is after 2 weeks bagged to equilibrate. I’ve read it can take a few more weeks for fridge-dried salumi to equilibrate well, even though all the stuff I’ve made were wrapped in a “steak dry-aging wrap” cellulose material prior to hanging for the drying step.
This dry aging wrap stuff is supposed to slow the drying process down more like what you’d see in a humidified, warmer, meat drying chamber, but IMHO it doesn’t. At least not in this fridge (which may be an outlier - super cold even at warmest setting and a freezer close to - 25°F - it’s a freak of Kenmore). With the meats I’ve got currently drying, I’ve decided to do 5 days on/off, vac bagging on the off days, to see if I can avoid getting such a hard, dry rind that I got in some of the earlier stuff I tried.
In the photo at the left side of the plate is a cured/dried spicy pork tenderloin product. I am not a fan of this because it’s kind of gummy in texture. It’s edible, but gummy. Even though I dried it to 60% of it’s original weight. And most of these recipes call for drying down to 67-65% of original weight, except the jerky which you dry down to about 35% of original weight. So, in the link below, if you try some of Eric’s stuff, I’d say skip the “Calabrian Pork”. Unless you like gummy dried meats!
Moving across the plate there’s some of the jerky mentioned above on the far right, which everyone in the family loved, a bit more of the Biltong slices in the middle, and Lomo Curado at the bottom. This Lomo Curado was the “red” meat end of the same pork loin I mentioned above. I got a whole boneless loin, maybe 7-8 pounds. You may have noticed one end of a whole boneless pork loin is very white meat, while at the other end it has a significant amount of red meat. In this case I took 2.5 pounds from each end for curing, then brined and cooked the center 3 pound part as a roast for Sunday dinner 6 or 7 weeks ago.
The two pieces of pork loin that were cured and hung to dry were hanged at the same time, but for some reason the red meat end of the loin dried in only about a month while the white meat end took almost 7 weeks, although this did include a week’s stint in a bag because it had gotten to the point where it was only losing 5-6 grams per day (for a loin still weighing over 1kg). So it had “rinded up so hard” that it was barely losing any more moisture per day. That one is now bagged and (hopefully) equilibrating so as to ameliorate the rind. The red meat end of the same loin is done and sliced and almost eaten, a favorite of my wife and kids. They also like the Capicola although the rind on the one side is still a problem. I’ve bagged the remainder of that hoping it gets better.
And I’m hoping my on-again/off-again treatment (now that I know a bit more) for the Bresaola the Pastrima will pay dividends.
That’s about it.
Oh - I also make a lot of fermented stuff: kombucha, kimchee, sauerkraut, cauliflower, (NEVER AGAIN fermented broccoli - too stinky!), etc. If folks want to discuss.
I did almost 20 generations of kombucha from making a mother from GT’s raw ginger, which near the end was getting alcohol in the 2nd ferment. I don’t mind alcohol in general but didn’t want my kombucha going over 2%. Then I bought a commercial scoby but it was incredibly slow - 6 weeks or more per each ferment (I should have read the negative Amazon reviews before buying). I’m also making cultured butter per What’s Eating Dan (ATK) videos on YouTube.
For the meat curing/drying, here is Eric Pousson’s website