Understanding the difference between Biltong and Beef Jerky

Understanding the difference between Biltong and Beef Jerky

The question that we’re asked most often here at BEEFIT Snacks (after “why are the England football team not better?”) is to explain the difference between biltong and jerky. They’re often considered to be the same product, but there are some key differences that we shall outline below.

It was not just beef these preserving techniques were applied to, it could also be venison (one of our favorites), chicken, turkey and indeed almost any meat you can mention. To understand the differences between biltong and jerky, we have to look at the history of the two processes.

Where does Biltong and Beef Jerky come from?

Biltong has its roots firmly planted in South Africa and the name derives from the Dutch words ‘bil’, meaning rump or hindquarter, and ‘tong’, meaning ‘strip’. When the first settlers arrived in South Africa they found that many of the indigenous peoples had been preserving meat for thousands of years by hanging it to dry in trees.

The climate in South Africa played an important part in this process, with low humidity levels and warm temperatures yielding ideal conditions for drying the meat slowly and thoroughly. Quickly realising the potential for a food that would keep well for months, settlers started experimenting themselves, introducing more flavours in the shape of vinegar, saltpetre and spices including pepper, coriander and cloves.

The origins of beef jerky

Jerky hails from across the Atlantic in North and South America and has strong associations in many people’s minds with cowboys and the great wagon trains of the early settlers.

Again, the arriving immigrants found that the native peoples had been preserving meat, but perhaps because of the difference in climate they frequently speeded up the process by smoking or slow cooking it, and that in a nutshell is the difference between the two.

There was also a larger availability of sugar, and the Americans being Americans added plenty of extra sugar to it! Visit our online shop to discover our own take on biltong and beef jerky snacks.

Biltong and jerky from BEEFIT Snacks

Here at BEEFIT Snacks we use the finest 100% prime beef which we then slice into thick strips before adding our secret recipe of herbs and spices. They are then placed in a vacuum tumbler, which allows the flavours to fully absorb into the beef.

We then hang the strips of meat in a drying chamber for 5 days in conditions that replicate the South African climate. One of the benefits of the longer drying process is that more of the moisture is removed from the meat and we end up with a higher protein content than you would find in jerky.

If you have any questions regarding our range of delicious snacks, feel free to call us on 01243 216196 - we love to talk about our Biltong!