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biltong south african

Why do South Africans love Biltong?

Biltong, a form of dried, cured meat that originated in Southern Africa, is much more than just a snack to South Africans; it's a cherished part of their heritage and culinary tradition. This beloved treat has roots that stretch back centuries and has evolved into a modern-day delicacy enjoyed by many. But what is it about biltong that captures the hearts of South Africans?

Origins of Biltong

The history of biltong can be traced back to the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa and was further developed by Dutch settlers, known as the Voortrekkers, in the 17th century. These early pioneers needed to preserve their game meat in a hot, arid climate without the luxury of refrigeration. They discovered that slicing the meat into strips, curing it with salt, and then drying it in the air was an effective method to prolong its shelf life. This technique not only preserved the meat but also enhanced its flavour, making biltong an essential sustenance for the settlers during their long voyages across the African continent.

How Biltong Is Made

The process of making biltong begins with marinating strips of meat—typically beef, although game meats like kudu, springbok, and ostrich are also popular—in a mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander, and other spices. The vinegar acts as a tenderiser and a preservative, while the spices infuse the meat with its characteristic flavour. After marinating, the meat is hung to dry in a controlled environment for several days to a few weeks, depending on the desired level of dryness. The result is a rich, flavourful meat that is both tender and chewy.


Biltong boasts a complex taste profile that balances savoury, salty, and slightly tangy flavours, with a hint of sweetness and the warm, earthy undertones of coriander. The texture varies from moist and tender to slightly chewy, depending on the cut of meat and the drying time. This unique combination of taste and texture makes biltong a versatile snack that can be enjoyed on its own, added to dishes for a protein boost, or used as a flavourful ingredient in a variety of recipes.

Nutritional Profile

Biltong is not only tasty but also nutritious. It is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate snack that is rich in essential nutrients, including vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. These nutrients are vital for energy production, immune function, and the maintenance of healthy blood cells. Additionally, because biltong is air-dried, it retains more of its nutritional content compared to other methods of meat preservation, making it a healthy choice for those looking for a nutritious snack option.

The love affair South Africans have with biltong is deeply rooted in its history, cultural significance, and the unique, delicious taste that has been perfected over centuries. It's a versatile snack that not only satisfies hunger but also provides a nutritious energy boost. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack during a rugby match, as part of a meal, or simply as a way to connect with South African heritage, biltong continues to be a beloved staple in South Africa and beyond. View our shop to see our selection of different flavours of Biltong!

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