This is easily the most common question put to us by customers and understandably so given the two dried meat favourites seem, at face value, to be the same thing. The truth, however, is that biltong and jerky have less in common than you might think.
If you're interested in this for nutritional reasons, a great place to start is this post:
'Why Biltong Is A Superior Snack For Getting These 4 Nutrients Into Your Diet'.
Here is the definitive lowdown to ensure that you don’t have to bite your tongue at the next braai or barbecue.
Biltong and jerky, like most charcuterie, originated to preserve meat in times before refrigeration existed. Biltong was developed by early European settlers in South Africa while jerky has roots in the Americas (whether first introduced by Native North Americans or South American Inca Tribes is a question hotly debated to this day).
Woza was founded by a proud South African and Londoner who wanted to offer authentic biltong made using best quality, sustainable British produce.
You can find more about the Woza biltong range and ethos here.
Traditional biltong and jerky recipes were developed for red meat because beef and venison were the prevalent livestock and wild game in these regions at the time.
This is in contrast to the pork and duck-centric charcuterie of Europe which has to be matured for longer to be safe to eat and actually encourages bacteria growth – the worst enemy of biltong and jerky.
Beef jerky is usually made from flank or another steak cut whereas biltong is traditionally made using beef silverside or topside.
Woza biltong, however, uses a unique cut of West Country beef specially selected for its complex flavour and surprisingly soft, moist texture, which shall remain unnamed (we can’t give all of their secrets away!).
Biltong is always cured and air-dried while jerky tends to be dehydrated by heat, usually through smoking or slow cooking. A further difference is that jerky is sliced into thin strips prior to drying while biltong is dried in whole cuts of beef and then thinly sliced to be eaten.
All of this means that jerky tends to have a drier texture than biltong and can be produced in a comparatively short time – just a few hours – as opposed to the 4-7 days it takes biltong to cure and air dry.
Everyone has their preference of biltong texture, some like it soft (or ‘wet’ as we say in South Africa) and others drier. The Woza standard is soft and moist biltong but they are happy to make it drier, if requested, always being careful not to over-dry.
Additional Ingredients & Spicing
The curing agents in biltong are salt and vinegar, the latter of which imparts a distinctive flavour too. Jerky on the other hand is made with salt but never vinegar and usually contains sugar. As for spicing, coriander seed and pepper are common in traditional biltong recipes (and in the old days also helped keep flies off the biltong!) but Jerky doesn’t seem to have a foundational spice profile, the spicing varying more from maker to maker.
Today there are countless jerky and biltong products of all types and flavours, many of which stray far from tradition. It has become commonplace, for instance, to add artificial preservatives, like sodium nitrite, to extend product shelf-life.
At Woza, they’ve created a product range that includes classic biltong flavours and more innovative options. Their core biltong recipe, however, is and always will be rooted in traditional South African methods. They pride themselves on offering a natural product so you can be rest assured that your biltong is free from artificial preservatives, sugar and gluten.
Hand crafted from British Beef and made to order, Woza Biltong is spiced, sliced & ready to eat. It's free from artificial preservatives, low fat, no added sugar and gluten-free and has a lovely soft and moist texture.
Choose from Gift Hampers, All-flavour Combos, 30g snack packets or 100g sharing packs, available in 4 flavours:
Cape Cinnamon - Cinnamon, star anise & cracked pepper make for a surprisingly delectable combination
Original Beef - Seasoned with toasted coriander and cracked pepper spice blend
Peri Peri - It packs a deliciously deep spicy flavour and pleasing chilli kick
Wild Venison - Deeply rich, game flavour, seasoned with toasted coriander and cracked pepper spice blend with a hint of juniper berry
So if you haven't yet tried Woza Biltong - check out shop.lifebyequipe.com
Article originally posted on www.eatwoza.com/blog