The History of Biltong

The History of Biltong

January 16, 2017 1 Comment

Dried meat has been around for centuries and its history can be traced to plenty of different cultures. Biltong, specifically, was first created by the indigenous people of South Africa over 400 years ago. They preserved their meat by curing it with salt and hanging it to dry. Although at that time it wasn't known as Biltong.

When the European settlers arrived, they introduced a more sophisticated curing process that involved vinegar and spices such as pepper and coriander. That is how Biltong was born. The word Biltong is derived from the Dutch words "bil" (meat or rump) and "tong" (strip), so essentially Biltong means strip of beef

Biltong became an important part of sea travel due to its durability and later played a very important role in the migration of the Dutch settlers, or Voortrekkers, as they traveled further North. Biltong was the perfect travel snack because of how long it lasts, its health benefits, and the lean protein it provides (how's that for Paleo!) Biltong has always been an integral part of South African culture and is a staple food that can be found in every butcher shop and supermarket. 

Ayoba Biltong is similar to traditional beef jerky, but is also vastly different. It is made using our South African family recipe and is not smoked or cooked like beef jerky, but is instead spiced to perfection, marinated, and air dried for up to 14 days. Our Biltong is made with the best cuts of beef and contains minimal ingredients, void of anything artificial, to give it the authentic taste that everyone loves. It is also high in protein, making it the perfect pre or post workout snack. Don't just take our word for it, give it a try for yourself. Ayoba Biltong is available in Traditional and Spicy. 



1 Response

Theo Stehle
Theo Stehle

January 03, 2020

I was looking for the origin of the name biltong when I stumbled upon your website, and read the interesting history.

However, having been around for some seven decades I need to make some corrections to your narrative. Biltong certainly has its origin in the European settlers at the Cape, who, owing to food needing to be preserved for long times (like on sea voyages) knew how to preserve meat by curing and drying, using salt and spices, and rusks or beskuit, which means twice baked (bi- scuit). The Voortrekkers only continued a practice that landed here together with van Riebeeck. The Hottentots and Bushmen may have dried meat, but whether it was salted, is questionable, and whether that is where the Europeans obtained the knowledge to preserve meat is highly unlikely.

The early settlers may have used spices with salt, but I know in my younger years in the rural areas biltong was mostly preserved just with salt, maybe some pepper, but no other spices. In fact, on the whole, even as late as the 1950s and 60s, spices for biltong, dry wors and boerewors were practically unknown, in the rural areas far and wide salt and pepper were the only preservatives in biltong. and boerewors. Gradually during the 1960s spices such as coriander were beginning to be used in biltong, and others like cloves and nutmeg were added to boerewors together with coriander, pepper and salt.

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