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The History of Biltong

Simon Smith - Thursday, January 21, 2016

It's time for a brief history lesson, we tell the story of how biltong became one of the most sought after South African delicacies ever.

The word biltong originates from the Dutch words ‘bil’, meaning rump or hindquarter, and ‘tong’, meaning ‘strip’.

Indigenous peoples from South Africa, such as the Khoikhoi, found that slicing the meat into strips, curing it with salt, and hanging it up to dry was an effective way of preserving the meat. European settlers arrived to Southern Africa in the early 17th century, and experimented with the curing process, bringing in vinegar, saltpetre and spices including pepper, coriander and cloves.

The need for meat preservation in the hot African climate was pressing, and biltong was the answer. Biltong as it is today evolved from the dried meat carried by the wagon travelling Voortrekkers, who needed stocks of durable food as they travelled in the Great Trek, a mass migration across the African Subcontinent. The meat would be hung and dried for a fortnight, at which point it was ready to be wrapped in cloth or enjoyed right away.

Many people developed different recipes that were passed down through generations, and are now enjoyed by many people around the globe. Try our secret recipe here.



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