Claim the privilege of hunting according to the dictates of your own conscience, and allow all hunters the same privilege;
let them practice how, where, or what they may.








Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making Jerky, Making Biltong; Either Way it Tastes Great!

© 2009 -2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Some time ago, my "compatriota" Mike from Native Hunt asked me about drying meat without smoke or heat. Coincidentally my good friend Ed, over at Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors, happens to have put together a fantastic tutorial on making Jerky American style. Excuse me, make that Texas style! (You might remember that he also did a great tutorial post on European style skull mounts.) Making jerky is a great way to stock up on some healthy snacks after the hunting season is over and it is a great skill to have regardless. Wild Ed's Texas Style Jerky takes you step by step on the artful and tasty way to make some homemade jerky.

Now, I'm a big fan of biltong, and making it via the southern Africa method of drying meats. There is nothing more delicious than the rich taste of meat that a well dried piece of biltong has.

I make my own using a couple of methods. Both are done indoors; one using the AC air handler, and the other a cardboard box and a fan. They both work about the same, though the AC method is about a day or two faster.

First thing you need is a hunk of meat. You can use beef, deer, elk, any of the deers (fallow, axis, etc). This does not work with pork, and for some reason, I seem to recall that it shouldn't be done with pronghorn antelope.

Cut it with the grain in slices about an inch thick. Cut them into half inch thick strips. Sprinkle them well with salt, and put them in a container over night in the fridge. The next day take them out of the fridge, rinse them off and dry them with a paper towel. Now you can use whatever spices you prefer. I like granulated garlic, Old Bay Seasoning, or Everglades Heat on mine. Now it's time to go and dry your biltong.

With the AC method you need to have an air handler unit that allows you access and enough depth to allow meat to hang freely. It also helps if your wife won't notice the smell of meat, garlic, and pepper wafting throughout the house.

Just hang the meat in the air handler. I used some wire to make a rack inside the air handler.

I have found that paper clips are by far the easiest thing to use to hang the meat from. Just un-bend them into an "S" shape, and skewer the end of the strip on it.

The cardboard box is real easy also. Obtain a tall narrow box; the type used by movers is great. They are about eighteen inches square and four feet high. Get some 3/8th inch dowels and space them out two inches apart, about two inches below the top. Cut a slot six to eight inches high and as wide as the box an inch off the bottom. This is the air entry. Now cut slots, one inch in height and about twelve inches wide on each side near the top, these are the exit holes. Open the top, and hang the meat making sure it doesn't touch either the box or an adjoining piece.

Close the top, plug the fan in and aim it at the intake slot, and wait.

Tom of Boomers and BS knows a thing or two about Biltong. He added the following:

"A 40 watt bulb in a proper socket wired safely in a board at the bottom of the box a decent distance below the meat hangers works as well as a fan in a cardboard box if you build it of wood. Some sort of drip screening/drip tray(s) (Maybe a big #10 can with holes in the sides. Albert) over the bulb itself and for general purposes of keeping things tidy helps. Ventilation holes (with screen door mesh behind them to keep flies out) in the box towards the upper end and on the top and pay attention to electrical and fire safety in your design.

Bulb design works better/faster than the fan design in cooler climates. Combination of both works too. Friend of mine built his with a lightbulb and a PC cooling fan to ventilate it."

The way to test the meat is to take slices off the end. If it's not dry enough for you, let it dry another day. I like mine a little on the wet side.

Things to remember, you need to do this in a climate controlled area. In other words, indoors because the relative humidity is constant. My guess is that you could do this outdoors if you knew that you would have stable temperatures and low humidity for four or five days. You just need a constant breeze to carry off any moisture being released."

Tom also added, "In Africa it's usually done open air, outside, in what amount to mesh tents/cabinets to keep the flies off. Not sure about pronghorn but almost all the biltong I have eaten in Africa was from the Antelope family, most especially Impala. Not uncommon for locals to convert near an entire Impala to biltong."

Pepper is a great fly repellent, if you're going to try this outdoors.

Now biltong is delicious, and it is very easy to eat the equivalent of two pounds of meat in a twenty minute sitting. You have been warned!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...


The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles


Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

8 comments:

Native said...

Thank you so much Albert!
Oh, Wait, Let me try it first and then see if thanks are in order.

I will give it a try with some Fallow Deer Meat and will let you know how it turns out.

T. Michael Riddle

tom said...

40 watt bulb in a proper socket wired safely in a board at the bottom of the box a decent distance below the meat hangers works as well as a fan in a cardboard box if you build it of wood. Some sort of drip screening/drip tray(s) over the bulb itself and for general purposes of keeping things tidy helps. Ventilation holes (with screen door mesh behind them to keep flies out) in the box towards the upper end and on the top and pay attention to electrical and fire safety in your design.

Bulb design works better/faster than the fan design in cooler climates. Combination of both works too. Friend of mine built his with a lightbulb and a PC cooling fan to ventilate it.

There are some commercial "biltong boxes" for sale from a few US, UK, and RSA food outfits but with a bit of investment in plywood (or the wood of your choice) and some minor electrical fittings, you'll save yourself rather a lot over their fees for IKEA style kits.

In Africa it's usually done open air, outside, in what amount to mesh tents/cabinets to keep the flies off. Not sure about pronghorn but almost all the biltong I have eaten in Africa was from the Antelope family, most especially Impala. Not uncommon for locals to convert near an entire Impala to biltong.

If you wish to expand your repertoire, this is a nice Droerwors recipe, which makes a nice hunting snack you can keep in your pockets.

Happy Hunting, Shooting, and Eating,
Tom

Native said...

That also sounds good Tom!
We have a bumper crop of Wild Boar this year, and I am toying with the idea of drying some meat.

Although Albert said that it doesn't work well with Pork!

Best,
T. Michael Riddle

Albert A Rasch said...

While slept on it, it occurred to me that it probably has something to do with the fat content. Antelope and deer are essentially fat free (97 to 99?) Whereas hogs are fattier maybe that has something to do with it.

Thank you Tom for adding to the repertoire of meat drying methods.

I'm going to add it to the post!

Regards,
Albert
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Range Reviews: Tactical
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

native said...

One more quick question Albert, and then I will start reading what I have around the house here.

If I vacuum seal it (food saver) about how long do you think it will keep?

Albert A Rasch said...

I've kept it in the fridge for months after I made it. And If it's real dry, it will keep months in the glove compartment in a zip lock. I know this from experience. So one of those vacuum pack units should be fine.

Since I like it wet in the middle I would keep it refrigerated between snacks.

I just don't know what the parameters are for extended safe keeping. Maybe Tom might know more.

Albert

tom said...

Hmm. I'm the wrong person to ask on this. My dad's a retired military pathologist and very anal about preserving food properly. His best friend in Texas is a retired microbiologist. We were out deer hunting fall before last and my dad was hopping up and down that how Ron and I had handled the food was unsafe and we were gonna get sicker than dogs because of it and made himself a sandwich of some sort and left us the good food. Ron, the microbiologist said "MORE FOR US!" and neither of us got sick.

Some people err on the side of caution and some people err on the side of "everything we eat can indirectly be referenced back to dirt and feces anyway..." I fall in category two and my dad category one and neither has gotten sick from the other's approach but Ron and I have done some things that my dad wouldn't eat. :-)

My theory is if it tastes or smells wrong, spit it out, otherwise it's likely OK still.

Bears, bobcats, and coyotes (for North America) eat rotting carcasses and garbage for a living as often as they have fresh kills and don't seem to die from it. I like my theory of "it it tastes wrong or smells funny, don't eat it" but I will not accept liability if that goes amiss for somebody nor consider that instructions on how to live...

I go for vacuum sealed and refrigerated for storage purposes.

Gun Slinger said...

I like that idea of making a box with a bulb and a small fan!


Shoot Straight,
GunSlinger
Reviewing the Reviews