THE HISTORY OF BILTONG- PRONOUNCED BILL… TONG LIKE IN TONG TO TURN BBQ MEAT ON THE GRILL
Biltong has actually been around for centuries with its roots in South Africa. In a time before refrigerators and freezers, people needed a way to preserve extra meat for future meals. To do this, they used the basic resources at hand — knives to cut the meat, salt to flavor and preserve, and tree branches to hang the meat until it was dry.
In the 17th century European settlers who arrived saw the benefits of having a stock supply of food. They quickly adopted this method, adding their own ingredients of vinegar and saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to the meat-curing mix.
Then, in the 19th century, came the Dutch. In a mass migration known as the Great Trek, thousands of Dutch farmers (called Voortrekkers) hitched their wagons to avoid British rule in Cape Colony and moved into the inland of Southern Africa.
For this long journey, they needed food — something portable, something non-perishable, and something with sustenance. Biltong was their perfect solution.
They toted the preserved meat with them as they traveled, calling it “biltong”
This marked the humble beginnings of biltong, now one of South Africa’s favorite meaty snacks.
Jerky versus Biltong
While some companies stick with more traditional tastes, a handful of today’s jerkies are pushing the flavor profile boundaries. There's the usual barbecues and teriyakis, but there's also sriracha, pho, kung pao, and many more.
These flavors may tickle the taste buds but they also add to a long, questionable list of ingredients. It’s common to find things like maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, monosodium glutamate, and sodium erythorbate in even the most basic jerky flavors.