Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Biltong is cured, air dried meat developed in South Africa and popular in many African countries. Often compared to jerky, it is a more refined product. I knew about it but I'd never tried it until last Saturday at  Florence Meats a fabulous butcher shop in Oakville.

This family run butcher shop has a South African connection. Born in Slovenia, Mario ran a butcher shop in Johannesburg before moving again to Canada. Now his son Damian with wife Carol have taken over and kept the South African link. They  carry many South African products that are very popular with expatriates and continue making biltong. What is very interesting is that they have a special electric slicing machine, that turns the biltong into thin slices in a few seconds. The store has great meat from local producers and they also make award winning prosciuttos, salamis and kranska. 

They make their biltong with beef round that has a little fat on it. They cover it with their own blend of spices and then dry it. According to the Oxford Companion to Food the spice mixture includes salt, pepper, coriander and fennel seed mixed with vinegar. Leipoldt author of Cape Cookery describes biltong -

"the result should be a dark-coloured, firm, elongated piece of dried meat, which cuts easily and when sliced is a tender garnet-red segment, surrounded by a thin, more darkly covered integument (tough outer protective layer) that need never be pared off before eating. Its taste is deliciously spicy."

Another type of biltong is made by game hunters who dry the meat in the sun until very hard. It is os hard to chew that it is often pounded or grated then mixed with butter and spread on bread. Apparently zebra makes the finest game biltong.

It is definitely worth the trip to Florence Meats for some biltong and of course the meat. I learnt that South Africans love oxtail they certain had some of the most beautiful pieces I'd seen in a long time.


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