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Old 12-07-2016, 03:50 PM
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AndyC AndyC is offline
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Drying meat

This past weekend I made what we South Africans call a "biltong box" - a dehumidifier we use at home to make a type of jerky. I'm using to make 2 South African dried meat delicacies: biltong and droewors (jerky and dried sausage-sticks respectively).



The PC fan on top sucks air out of the box and the black vent in front draws air in (while keeping bugs out); usually takes 4-5 days to dry out meat by wind-movement.

26 gallon clear storage container - 18x20x23"
1/2" dowels - bought 3, used 2-1/2 of them
120mm 12v PC fan and 110-12v AC adapter
Cheap plastic PC vents.

There are many recipes for biltong, but here's how I make it. You can use pretty much any kind of steak you like - sirloin is best because it's fine-grained, but I've often used a cheaper cut like chuck shoulder.

You'll need:

a. Steak - try and get steaks with have a rind of fat on one side
b. Coriander seeds (this is critical)
c. Black pepper
d. Rock salt
e. Vinegar (any kind, although apple cider is the best)

1. For a 2 lb steak, cut it into steaks about an inch thick and however long it is (1 ft long is typical).

2. Pour a little vinegar (any kind, but I usually use apple cider vinegar) into a glass/ceramic dish and briefly dip the steaks well on both sides then hold them up to let the vinegar off (the vinegar wets the meat and helps break down the fibers a little - keeps the flies off, too). Don't use a metal dish - it doesn't go well with vinegar due to electrolysis or something.

3. Lay the steaks down on a dry bed of rock-salt then cover the top of the steaks with rock-salt and leave them for a half-hour to absorb the salt (over the years I've found that leaving it longer than this makes it taste too salty for me).

4. Take about 1/4 bottle of Coriander seeds (about 2 Tbsp), dry-roast it in a frying-pan over medium heat until it turns golden-brown and then coarsely grind/crush it.

5. Scrape the salt-crystals off the steaks with the back of a knife (or just use your fingers) and then grind up some pepper and coat the steaks - it doesn't have to be a whole lot. Then coat the steaks with the ground coriander and sort of roll them over & over in the dish to get them well-coated, getting the sides and ends of the meat as well.

6. The traditional South African way to cure biltong is to cut some coat-hangers and make S-shaped hooks to hang the steaks up in the garage by their ends (anywhere cool and away from direct sunlight will do fine), but I'm speeding-up the process by using my gadget instead.

I made some wors (sausage) - I've never made this in my life before but I got 60% off a grinder/sausage maker at Cabela's (Black Friday sale) so I'm going to try. 2.5 lbs sausage meat marinated overnight, my dryer-box was ready to go so we'll see what happens.

4 lbs of (admittedly poor) chuck roast cut into slices and spiced:


First sausage I've ever made - 2.5 lbs in narrow casings:


Biltong and sausage hung - aluminum foil below to catch drips:


Box in the garage and switched on; the 5-day wait began on Sunday evening (and the smell has been making me nuts ever since):


You can dry just about anything in these boxes - fish, fruit, whatever - so I reckon this'll be a useful gadget. 2 days later and they've started drying out nicely:
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Old 12-07-2016, 04:02 PM
Jeff in Colorado Jeff in Colorado is offline
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I'm a jerk meat lover, that looks really good. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-07-2016, 04:13 PM
Goodchute Goodchute is offline
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Thanks, I'm going to try this!
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Old 12-07-2016, 07:34 PM
Steve_In_29 Steve_In_29 is offline
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High humidity areas might want to incorporate some type of heating element.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:13 PM
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It's hard to make this stuff in high humidity conditions anyway - mold usually develops because moist air going out is simply replaced by moist air going in. BT, DT

With that said, most biltong boxes are made of wood and use a 60W bulb to heat air to cause convection - but this is plastic so I don't want heat inside it.
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:24 PM
Rembrandt Rembrandt is offline
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Looks like a great idea, not sure I have the patience to wait 5 days for the results.

We do something similar only with a smoker. Low heat and an exhaust fan that pulls the moisture out. Smoky flavor and ready to eat in 6-8 hours.





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Old 12-09-2016, 07:11 PM
MrMike MrMike is offline
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Rembrandt, I have a similar smoker and like the cart in your photo. Hate bending over to peek inside, plus the storage is good too.
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:19 PM
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My steaks were a full inch thick and the sausage just under that in diameter, so it takes time to dry - after 5 full days, all is perfect:



Biltong cut in half to show inside:



Made another 3 lbs of sausage this morning along with my brother-in-law's 2 lbs (teaching him how to make his own) - this'll be ready Friday morning.
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:29 PM
wccountryboy wccountryboy is online now
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Andy, its great to see different techniques and recipes from different parts of the world. Whats the shelf life without refrigeration?
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:41 PM
gun_fan111 gun_fan111 is online now
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Drying meat

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyC View Post
My steaks were a full inch thick and the sausage just under that in diameter, so it takes time to dry - after 5 full days, all is perfect:







Biltong cut in half to show inside:






Do you slice that steak like prosciutto? Is it for snacking or will go into a dish?

Looks great but I doubt I could chew through it
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:02 PM
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Living in Western Washington I have to rely on a dehydrator but your idea is great. And the best part it works!
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Old 12-11-2016, 04:05 PM
Goodchute Goodchute is offline
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Curing and preserving meats is something I've been interested in almost as long as firearms. Your recipe sounds interesting, I'll add it to my try pile if you don't mind. With my cured meats I don't know exactly how long they'll keep, they don't stay around long enough. However, I made some jerky and beef sticks last year for a young friend on deployment. He kept them in the bags, out of the air, and they lasted for the whole year.
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:13 PM
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Had a neighbor that used to do something similar. Amounted to dipping strips of meat in vinegar and hanging them on the barbed wire fence in front of the house. Probably won't work for dog owners.
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Old 12-12-2016, 05:12 AM
Capt. Methane Capt. Methane is offline
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Kudu...it's not just for breakfast anymore!

I've used several kinds of meat to make chili but having tasted Kudu at a restaurant in Cape Town (as well as some commercial Kudu biltong) I'm pretty sure that it would make the most epic chili ever...
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Old 12-12-2016, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wccountryboy View Post
Andy, its great to see different techniques and recipes from different parts of the world. Whats the shelf life without refrigeration?
I have literally no idea - mine has never lasted long enough to say but this stuff has been used in Africa for hundreds of years before refrigeration, commonly for hunting expeditions. Common wisdom is to refrigerate it in a paper bag, otherwise it eventually dries out more and more.

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Originally Posted by gun_fan111 View Post
Do you slice that steak like prosciutto? Is it for snacking or will go into a dish?
We tend to slice it - thin slices or chunks, depending on personal preference. As kids we'd just tear into it with our teeth and gnaw/tear off chunks.

Some folks will pound it almost into dust and spread that on their buttered toast... weird people
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Old 12-12-2016, 02:19 PM
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Now ya'll made me hungry
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Old 12-12-2016, 02:27 PM
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Now ya'll made me hungry

0 degrees outside and I am debating if I want to make a gas station run for some jerky
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Old 12-18-2016, 07:39 PM
wccountryboy wccountryboy is online now
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Another question... what were your temperature and humidity conditions?

Il be getting a grinder/stuffer in a week, and want to try out the sticks- im assuming you used the same recipe, only with ground meat.

Straight drying is a little different than using a smoker or dehydrator; the latter actually cook the meat a little, allbeit at low temps. Straight drying is essentially uncooked meat...
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:11 PM
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I had to look it up - average 50F and between 40 and 90% humidity that week.

Heck, you reminded me I hadn't posted the recipe I used - I made a second batch last week which also turned out fine, so here it is:

2.5 lbs of 90/10 or 85/15 hamburger
1 TBsp roasted/crushed coriander
2.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp crushed black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 finely-crushed clove
2 TBsp vinegar
3 TBsp worcestershire sauce

Mix well with the meat and marinade covered overnight in the fridge before stuffing the casings (narrow ones). I usually make each sausage about 34" long or so - then bend each in half over the dowels.
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Last edited by AndyC; 12-18-2016 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:18 PM
wccountryboy wccountryboy is online now
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I had to look it up - average 50F and between 40 and 90% humidity that week.
Huge humidity range....

How did you prep the meat for the sticks?

I have a somewhat weird interest in different cultures, and a bad habit of applying it to different things I do... different methods, techniques, recipes, and processes...
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:01 PM
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It was a weird weather-week in Texas. Edited above for the recipe - enjoy
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Last edited by AndyC; 12-18-2016 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:20 PM
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Do you slice that steak like prosciutto? Is it for snacking or will go into a dish?

Looks great but I doubt I could chew through it
Biltong is supposed to be snacked on and thin slices shaved off lengthwise like slivers of meat. Other than being dried meat, it is nothing like jerry. Very tasty in its own right. It goes amazingly well with beer.

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Old 12-18-2016, 09:26 PM
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So tell us.

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Originally Posted by AlbertaRob View Post
Biltong is supposed to be snacked on and thin slices shaved off lengthwise like slivers of meat. Other than being dried meat, it is nothing like jerry. Very tasty in its own right. It goes amazingly well with beer.

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Can you give us a heads up on things that do not go well with beer?
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:35 PM
AlbertaRob AlbertaRob is online now
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Can you give us a heads up on things that do not go well with beer?
Wine? Ummm.... Canned peas taste horrible no matter what they are with. Ya! Wine and canned peas. That's about it.

And come to think of it, when I was 16, wine and beer were just fine together.

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Old 12-18-2016, 10:01 PM
gun_fan111 gun_fan111 is online now
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Wine? Ummm.... Canned peas taste horrible no matter what they are with. Ya! Wine and canned peas. That's about it.

And come to think of it, when I was 16, wine and beer were just fine together.

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Haha!

Dried salty fish also goes great with beer! Same for squid
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