Biltong has been consumed in South Africa since the early 16th century, when European settlers were introduced to the dried meat by the indigenous Khoikhoi people. Since then, biltong has developed into an industry in its own right, with the primary consumers being South Africans themselves. If you want to learn more about this iconic South African snack food, take a look at this history of biltong.
What is Biltong?
The term biltong has been used since as early as 1658 and refers to a dried meat product that originated in South Africa. The word biltong is derived from two Dutch words meaning pounded strip of flesh. The common belief is that biltong was first produced by indigenous peoples in Africa and then discovered by European settlers. The popularity of biltong eventually spread beyond African shores, and you can find it today across Europe, Australia, and North America as well as South Africa itself. Despite variations depending on its location of origin, biltong typically comes from beef or game meats such as venison or ostrich, though any type of meat can be used.
The History of Biltong
Of course, no one knows for sure how or when it started, but what we do know is that biltong’s popularity in South Africa has steadily increased since its arrival. There are many rumours about where biltong originates from. The stories have changed over time and it is quite hard to get a correct version of events, but according to some stories (which may or may not be true), biltong originated in Germany. Back in 1750, there was an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) amongst cattle which resulted in huge financial losses for farmers.
To protect their valuable herds, they decided to slaughter only old cows whose meat would not fetch good prices anyway. After skinning these cows, their hides were used as an extra source of income by tanning them using Saltpeter (potassium nitrate) - which caused them to turn brownish-red after being tanned. These tanned skins were called biltong. Some people say that the name itself also derives from bütten, meaning trough or tub because cowhide strips were first cured with saltpeter inside wooden troughs used for watering cattle during the summer months.
Why Eat Quality Biltong?
If you're going to be eating meat, you may as well eat quality biltong. The history of biltong is vast and interesting, so sit back and enjoy a little bit of our country's tasty heritage. In addition to being delicious, it's an excellent way to get protein in your diet, especially for those following a Paleo diet. No matter what diet you follow, however, it's hard not to fall in love with biltong when you understand where it comes from and how it started out. More than that—there are tons of health benefits that come with adding quality biltong into your life! How can something be made from meat without preservatives or additives actually be good for us? Keep reading and find out!
Reasons Why South Africans Love Biltong
Eating biltong gives one many different nutrients, but these four stand out. Great source of iron: With all that beefy goodness comes great amounts of iron; each bite contains around 5 mgs per 100 grams (1). Low levels of fat: Some cuts contain up to 10 times less fat than ordinary sliced ham (2). Source of vitamin C: Great for fighting against scurvy and boosting immune systems—especially during winter months (3). Plus, it tastes amazing! In fact, most locals cannot start their day without a piece of quality biltong. What’s your favourite part about eating biltong?
How To Start Making Your Own Quality Biltong
If you would like to make your own biltong but don’t know where to start, then read our 10-step guide. It covers everything from what equipment you need to how you can find high-quality meat and more! Making biltong is a lot easier than it seems. Once you have all of your equipment set up, it is really just a matter of planning ahead and following a few simple steps. So don’t be afraid – give it a try! By making your own biltong you will save money and ensure that only good-quality meat finds its way into your homemade snack! Don’t waste any time - get started today!