Friday, February 1, 2013

The word ‘biltong’ is derived from two words of Dutch origin; ‘bil’ (meaning rump) and ‘tong’ (meaning strip or tongue). Dutch settlers arriving in South Africa from Europe in the 17th century introduced recipes for dried meat from Europe.

The hot climate of South Africa dictated that standard preservation methods for dried meat would have to be adapted to make meat last longer and, in addition to this factor, Dutch settlers would also trek across South Africa for weeks on end. As a result of this the Dutch settlers stored raw meat for longer than usual so as to preserve it for consumption. The settlers noticed that after storing the meat in vinegar, salt and spices for upwards of two weeks the meat became almost black and rock solid; hence fully cured biltong meat was created.

What exactly is Biltong?

Biltong is essentially a cured meat which originated in South Africa as a result of the aforementioned preservation techniques of the Dutch. Biltong is very similar to beef jerky; however the taste of biltong is much stronger than the somewhat plain taste of jerky due to vinegar and salt being added during the drying process.

As a result of this drying process, people report that biltong is much more flavoursome than jerky and, due to its one inch thickness, acts as more of a substantial snack that fills the stomach and really gives you something to bite into when compared with the more flimsy pieces of beef jerky.

Modern Biltong Consumption

Biltong UK distributors have seen an increasing rise in the demand to supply both retailers and individual consumers with their products over the course of the past twenty years. This has come largely as a result of the global tourism industry that emerged over the second half of the 20th century. As increasingly numbers of UK tourists began to holiday in Cape Town they began to indulge in biltong – which, in South Africa, is considered to be something of a delicacy.

Gradually local food stockists and supermarkets began to receive requests from UK customers about whether they stocked biltong. However there was one small problem – it is illegal to import biltong that has been produced in South Africa into the UK.

The reason for this lies with the Customs and Excise department, who forbid the importation of meat products from countries that do not form part of the European Union. As a result of the prohibition of importing biltong UK manufacturers have opted to produce their own biltong made to the authentic South African taste.

If you are an individual consumer or a representative for a retail stockist then you will be able to obtain your biltong from a UK biltong distributor with relative simplicity providing that you source your order from a reputable biltong distributor. Only a handful of biltong stockists have emerged in the UK who create thick and tasty biltong for the masses without sacrificing their production values or the final taste of the product.

The Rising Popularity of Biltong

Biltong has gradually grown in popularity since its introduction into UK supermarkets in the 1990s. Indeed many independent retailers, garages, pubs and convenience stores now stock biltong. Whilst the range of flavours that biltong is available in has also developed and the range now includes beef, black pepper, chilli, ostrich and biltong beer sticks that can be dunked into a favourite beer and sucked on like a teething baby.

Incidentally, biltong is also popular for babies who are teething – as well as beer swigging adults – however, it is advisable to teeth babies on milder biltong products that have had their spices removed so as to prevent scaring baby off beautiful biltong for life.

About The Author:

Calvin Ford is a writer who has visited Cape Town, or as he likes to call it ‘The Biltong Capital of the World’. If you are looking for a biltong UK based distributor then he advises getting in touch with a provider that makes biltong to an authentic South African taste.

Image Credits:
Arnold Goodway

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