Biltong and Boerewors

If we need to explain Biltong we would certainly call it the South African version of dried cured meat, however before you choose to call it "beef jerky", it is not the same.  In fact you almost can call it the opposites when it comes to cured meats of world. 
Biltong has actually become synonymous with South Africa and its citizens.  The word "biltong" originates from the Dutch with the words "BIL" implying the buttocks (the cut of meat favoured for this delicacy) and the word “TONG” meaning strip.  Together it ends up being "biltong".
 
South African biltong manufacturers make use of a multitude of meats to produce different kinds of flavoured biltong; this includes a selection of wild game featuring Springbok, Eland, Kudu or even mouth watering ostrich.  Most biltong produced in Southern Africa of course is produced from beef.

The History of South African Biltong

Native South African groups such as the Khoisan and Khoikhoi developed a preparation method to preserve meat for the times when hunting was lean.   After European settlers such as the French, Dutch and German showed up in Cape Town in the very early 17th century, they combined their traditional salting and curing of meat for their long sea voyages with the knowledge of the local indigenous Khoikhoi.  Still today, preparing meat to become biltong includes applying vinegar and massaging the pieces of meat with a combination of salts and spices that usually consists of pepper, coriander and cloves.

Accumulating herds of livestock in the Cape Settlement in the early days took a very long time however with indigenous game in abundance; you had the ability to preserve large amounts of meat such as the wild Eland which was abundant in the Western Cape, South Africa.  Years later, when the Voortrekkers split for the Cape Colony and set off in their ox-wagons to find their own place in the world, biltong was an essential foodstuff for a difficult time when food was scarce and preserving it was extremely important.  Thus biltong established itself as a staple in the hearts of South Africans, and today it is a firm part of the food rituals of modern South Africans.

Dried out cured meat shipping worldwide

With so many South African's living abroad, especially in Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia and now even India boasting a large presence of South African expats, biltong has become a well known commodity in countries where you find huge amount of South African expatriates.  Even though you may be a South African living overseas you still hunger for the unmistakable taste of true South African biltong.

Difference between Beef Jerky and Biltong

The main difference between these two kinds of cured meats can be explained as follows; the types of meats used in both are vastly different.  South African cattle and American cattle differ greatly in taste and texture.  Also South African biltong is not only made from beef also wild game like Ostrich or Kudu which is not normally found outside the African continent.  The preparation of these cured meats also differ as biltong manufactures use basic product like salt, cloves, pepper and coriander to cure the meat.  Beef Jerky use more exotic substances like olive oil, soy sauce and even Habanero to give it a different kind of flavour to the cured meat.  Biltong tends to be cut in larger pieces and normally depending on your taste have a bit of reddish color in the middle and a bit moist. Jerky is left to dry out until it’s extremely dry and paper thin.