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Biltong Drying Box

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QldKev

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Here's how I made my Biltong box I call my 'Biltong Machine'

Here is a great resource full of ideas and recipes here


This is my Biltong Machine, I made about 7 years ago and it's still in service today.
box.jpg


To make it, get a plastic box
container.jpg


In the lid cut a round hole(s) and mount a pc fan(s) so the air is drawn up and outwards. Wire in a 12vdc power supply available cheap from ebay and second hand shops. The fan I used is a 90mm high speed fan so I have just one in it. If you are using the cheaper ebay ones I would mount 2 fans in the lid or even a 120mm. I think 2 fans may provide better circulation towards the edges. The 12vdc power supply I used is rated to 1 amp (1,000mA). So 2 x 500mA fans would be ok, you will find heaps of 300-350mA fans. The rusty grill is optional.
fan.jpg

For the drying racks I used cake stands, these are cheap in Big W etc. I've been going to add a third for a few years. Around the bottom edge I drilled 2 x 20mm holes per side. On the short sides I kept them to the outer edges to prevent dead spots. On the longer sides I spaced them evenly.
racks.jpg


To mount the racks into the box I drilled a couple of small holes and I cable tied one end to the box. This acts as the hinge.
hindge.jpg


On the other end of the rack I just use a peg as a leg to hold it up. I've always been going to make something better, but never have. Then you can open up the racks to clean the bottom and for stacking the meat.
rack_swivel.jpg

The biltong once prepared for drying is just layed across the racks ensuring no piece touches each other or the plastic sides. Here's a couple of pieces I had left in the fridge.
biltong.jpg


Notes:
I have been going to cover the holes around the bottom with flywire to prevent flies getting in. I have found when the machine is running drawing air into the holes and out via the fan them smell is emitted from the fan, hence the flies never try and get in from the holes.
Another idea is to run the fan pushing air into the box and out via the holes in the bottom. Then we could use an ebay pc fan filter over the fan to filter out any crap from getting into the box. In this case we may need flywire over the holes as that's where the smell will be emitted.
Traditionally Biltong is made without heat, and is the way I have always done it. I rely on the salt up front to cleanse the meat for me. Jerky is made with heat and is more food safe. I find a difference between the end products.
Any red meat can be used. You do want it to be very low in fat, as fat can go rancid. Topside and round are generally low in fat so make great options. Kangaroo and some other meats are also low in fat but are a stronger tasting meat. I also use rump often as I get it for under $6 a kg, but you need to choose the slices without much fat.



I use 2 main ways of preparing the meat. One is roughly as per Kai discusses in the thread, the other is later discussed by Screwtop.


QldKev recipe
Cut 100% fat free red meat into 1cm thick x 2cm wide strips. (traditionally this was left in large strips of meat)
If the meat is very wet pat dry with paper towel. Use a decent brand as the cheap ones leave paper crap on the meat.
Cover with rock salt for 20-45mins
Remove excess salt (leaving a small amount is ok)
* Often I quickly rinse it under a running tap to ensure a less salty version
Mix 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water and soak meat for 15-45mins
Remove meat and pat dry with paper towel
Mix spices in mortal/pestle (eg 50% corriander seeds, 40% gara masala and 10% chilli powder)
Lightly cover meat with spice mix
Place into dryer.
It will be ready in 1 to 7 days depending on humidity


Screwtop's Recipe
(note he uses a standard food dehydrator to make his biltong, but I just follow this and put it in my dryer)
500g round steak cut into this strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper and curry powder to taste

Combine the ingredients and add the meat, put in a tupperware container and leave overnight in the fridge. Remove strips from marinate and dry for a minimum of 10 hrs (pref 24 depends on heat) in fan forced oven or dehydrator. Strips must be just pliable and bendable when ready, not too dry.
 

Edak

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You sir are a legend. You make it sound so simple that I could get started today....
 

QldKev

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Edak said:
You sir are a legend. You make it sound so simple that I could get started today....
It is that simple and easy. They key is salt upfront to prep the meat, and air movement to stop it going moldy etc.
 

brad81

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Cheers Kev, could've sworn I've seen something very much like this on another tech forum. Thanks for the great post!!
 

bradsbrew

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That is a great set up big fella. I am going to build one tommorrow! I was just up at elliot heads camping, should have dropped over and drank your beer and ate your biltong/jerky.

Cheers
 

QldKev

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bradsbrew said:
That is a great set up big fella. I am going to build one tommorrow! I was just up at elliot heads camping, should have dropped over and drank your beer and ate your biltong/jerky.

Cheers
Next time def come on over (I'm not in town itself anymore) closer to where you were camping. Also could have tried the Berliner Weisse. It's pretty good drinking.
 

jyo

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Thanks for posting this, Kev! Definitely on the to-do list.

Cheers, mate.
 

benno1973

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Kev, I understand that airflow and humidity are important factors - is air exchange? In your box you definitely have air exchange, no problem there. But I've set up a curing fridge with a fan inside it and a dehumidifier. Haven't tried it yet for biltong, but it works fine for salami, pancetta, prosciutto, etc. Does the air need to be exchanged for fresh air for biltong?
 

QldKev

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Kaiser Soze said:
Kev, I understand that airflow and humidity are important factors - is air exchange? In your box you definitely have air exchange, no problem there. But I've set up a curing fridge with a fan inside it and a dehumidifier. Haven't tried it yet for biltong, but it works fine for salami, pancetta, prosciutto, etc. Does the air need to be exchanged for fresh air for biltong?
I'm only guessing, but I think your setup could be better. It would remove a lot of issues with airborne pathogens getting into contact with the meat. It would also allow you to dial in what ever humidity and drying rate you want. I'm not 100% sure what the humidity should be, I make it all year around here. Winter can drop to 50%, whilst summer goes to 99% on my trusty gauge. I make one recipe where I treat the meat as per QldKev style above until I get to the spices step and then apply a thin layer of either Smokey BBQ or Teriyaki marinate. Twice now, both times in the middle of summer with high humidity and I've applied it too thick, I have had mold grow on it. These two times are the only times I've had issues with the meat. I can image left out in Perth's summer it would dry pretty quick. (I'm actually a born and bred Perth boy) I like it when it dries pretty quick as it leave the center more soft and red.
 

stakka82

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Just wondering how long the biltong/jerky is good for once fully prepared? And does it need to sit in the fridge for storage?

Also, if using a fan-forced oven, what temperature should I be aiming for?
 

benno1973

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QldKev said:
I'm only guessing, but I think your setup could be better. It would remove a lot of issues with airborne pathogens getting into contact with the meat. It would also allow you to dial in what ever humidity and drying rate you want.
Sorry, I should have been more specific on details. It's a fridge with the thermostat (STC-1000) and hygrostat. I can dial in temp(0C-40C) and humidity (5-95%) and it holds it pretty steady, using a ceramic heat lamp and the fridge to control temps, and an ultrasonic humdifier and peltier dehumidifier for humidity. There's a fan inside for circulation. However the only air exchange is when I open the fridge, which is generally daily.

I guess I was wondering how important air exchange is as opposed to circulation.

It did take me a while to set up though. Yours looks like a nice quick build which certainly does the job.
 

QldKev

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Kaiser Soze said:
Sorry, I should have been more specific on details. It's a fridge with the thermostat (STC-1000) and hygrostat. I can dial in temp(0C-40C) and humidity (5-95%) and it holds it pretty steady, using a ceramic heat lamp and the fridge to control temps, and an ultrasonic humdifier and peltier dehumidifier for humidity. There's a fan inside for circulation. However the only air exchange is when I open the fridge, which is generally daily.

I guess I was wondering how important air exchange is as opposed to circulation.

It did take me a while to set up though. Yours looks like a nice quick build which certainly does the job.
I'm waiting for my lambic to finish in my spare fermenting fridge then I'm converting it into a salami chamber which sounds identical to your one. I would give a batch of biltong a go in it and see what happens. Otherwise in a couple of months I'll be trying it to.

Are you using either a dhc-100 or th-20 to control the humidity?
 

benno1973

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I use one identical to this one, which is a CK-100. If you buy that one, I have photographs of my build and all the wiring, as their wiring diagram is complete crap. PM me if you get that and I'll email you my photographs. I have a half completed blog post about the build, but it might take me a while to finish it!
 

brettprevans

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stakka82 said:
Just wondering how long the biltong/jerky is good for once fully prepared? And does it need to sit in the fridge for storage?

Also, if using a fan-forced oven, what temperature should I be aiming for?
look at the jerky and biltong threads for lots of info. It's not so much time as dyer duration
 

real_beer

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I first saw your Biltong Box while looking over your http://qldkev.net site. It inspired me into instant action building my own & the recipe you provided is still my personal favourite.

I used a little wheelie bin with 8 holes drilled in the sides at the bottom (pics in link below) & like you say have never had a problem with flies, I don't think they must like the pressure of the air being drawn through the holes by the fan. I've made large pieces of biltong Bintong :lol: with my box but really enjoy the results your recipe covers using smaller sized strips. Thanks for the information I bet a lot of people have started making their own Biltong after seeing it. I know people start to drool & slobber when I tell them I make my own, in fact while sitting here typing this I've just had to get up & get some jerky to chew on :icon_drool2: , its very addictive.

http://aussiehomebrewer.com/topic/58500-small-wheely-bin-for-portable-keg-system/#entry823306

Cheers
 

Beerisyummy

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Nice post. I've always loved biltong and haven't yet gotten around to making some yet.

I've been involved in Southern Cross sausage making and drying on the farm when young so I figured it couldn't be too hard.
Thanks for enforcing that.


For any Sydney siders, there is a chicken shop on Bondi road ( just past Kemmenys) that is owned by a South African. If you're not sure what biltong is it's a good place to try some.
There is a nondescript drying cupboard on the wall, with large strips of rump hanging up. They aren't as spicy as I like, but my mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Damn you Pavlov's dog!
 

rusty274

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My next door neighbough makes/sells biltong commercially. He started drying his in a pie warmer in his spare bedroom! Now that he is selling it he has a much larger factory setup. Pretty handy guy to have next door.
 

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