The word BILTONG is formed from the Dutch words "BIL" (rump or hind quarter) and 'TONG" meaning "strip" = a strip of meat.
The tradition of making biltong is over four hundred years old. Sailors from the Dutch East India Company discovered that cured meat could be made more flavorful by adding spices that they had acquired through the spice trade route between Indonesia and Holland.
Traditionally the method for curing meat was to bathe the meat in wine or wine vinegar vats then rub salt over the meat and allow to dry. This meat could then be rinsed in fresh water to get rid of some of the excess salt and then cut into cubes and cooked up as a stew. This way the sailors could survive for weeks at sea without having to stop for fresh meat supplies. Sailors also knew that they could also eat this meat raw in the cured state if need be. They started experimenting with various spices. Initially salt, pepper and wine or wine vinegar. They later added other spices such as coriander from western Asia, nutmeg from Indonesia and other interesting herbs and spices from the Spice Islands of Indonesia.
After Jan van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape of Good Hope traders soon followed wanting to trade fresh produce and goods with the various ships on the spice route. These traders started experimenting with various methods and flavors when making biltong.
When the Dutch settlers otherwise known as Voortrekkers decided to move inland in the 1830s on the "Great Trek" biltong came to the fore as their primary source of protein. The Voortrekkers were not hunters they were frontier farmers seeking a better life from the rulers of the Cape Colony at the time. They would slaughter a cow and cure the meat into biltong. The biltong was then hung in the ox wagon whilst they trekked into the interior of the country. Instead of rehydrating and cooking the cured meat they would simply carve off a slice and eat on the go thereby saving time whilst on the move.
Today we have many different types of biltong in many different ingredients making up a wide variety of flavors.
Types of meat used for biltong:Beef
Typical ingredients used in biltong:Spirit Vinegar
White Wine Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
White, Brown or Caramelised Sugar