People who love meat products surely know what is biltong. For those who meet this specialty for the first time, it’s dried meat, cut in pieces that look like tongues, and well-preserved for using it later. Any type of meat can be used, including beef, pork, or even ostrich. The typical look is like strip or tongue. It’s dried naturally or in a special dryer, which ensures long shelf life if stored properly. Sometimes it’s only nicely salted, or other spices can be used too.
Since ancient times, people needed to preserve meat, so they can have more food for the winter season. Almost all cultures in the world have a history of preserving different types of food, so they can avoid spoiling or food poisoning. For the biltong recipe, people usually use meat, pepper, coriander, salt, and vinegar, but these ingredients may vary depending on the type of meat, or the person’s preferences. But, one thing is for sure – by preserving the meat, people can prevent dangerous bacteria to grow over it. It’s usually stored in textile bags, so they can “breathe” and prevent mold.
But, do you need more tips on how to store your biltong? Here we are to help you with that.
Use paper bags
Paper is also breathable material, and collects moisture, without letting it touch the food. The trick is to use a new and clean bag. Don’t reuse it, because there can be fat or spaces residue over the internal surface, that may develop bacteria and mold. Our suggestion too is to use those brown bags because they are the best to store your food you need to keep dry. Before you store the biltong in this type of bag, you have to be sure it’s completely dry. Wet pieces can create conditions for fungi and bacteria to develop, and once that happens, you shouldn’t use the whole package, even the pieces that seem well by looking.
What to do if you buy pre-packed biltong?
This product has a limited expiration date because the approach is the same, but the product comes wet and packed in vacuumed plastic bags. Don’t open all the bags at the same time. Use one package, and let it dry a little before you store it in a plastic or glass container. You can also use a paper bag, as we described in the previous paragraph. But, after you open it, you will have to use it in less than a week, or until the marked date on the package.
The meat with more moisture should be eaten faster
The moisture shortens the shelf life of the product. Surely, there are types of biltong with higher concentrations of moisture, and if you want your meat juicy, you must be ready to buy smaller amounts or to store it perfectly. In this case, you can invest in home vacuum containers, so you can make the product last longer in the fridge. But, since we are talking about meat products, we highly recommend you to be more responsible with it and don’t buy large amounts if you aren’t sure that you will eat it in a few days.
Freezing is allowed
If you want to buy or make larger amounts at once, you can freeze them. It will anyway keep some moisture inside, and when you need to defrost the biltong, just simply put it over a dry towel or a few layers of absorbing paper. But, you need to keep in mind that the texture will change, and it would be chewy and softer than the fresh product.
Keep the dried meat away from the sunlight, in a dry place
It’s always a good idea to keep the meat products in a fridge, but there is moisture inside, which can affect the quality. But, if you don’t have a basement with the perfect conditions, like the massive producers have, storing it in a paper bag, and in the fridge, is the most obvious solution. But, if you have a separate room in your house that is always cold, dry, and away from the sunlight, you can use it as your exotic basement. Many people who want to store meat, cheese, and wine in their special basements use temperature and moisture controllers, so they can always enjoy their excursions there. But, if you aren’t into that, and you only enjoy biltong occasionally, storing it in a fridge is just fine.
Avoid using plastic bags
They are practical, but the plastic releases smell and it can change the taste of the meat. Also, it may create moist conditions around the pieces, and promote the mold appearance. We highly suggest you not use plastic bags when storing your biltong, unless it’s prepacked like that. But, after opening, you will need to move it in a paper bag or vacuum container.
Learn to make a difference between mold and salty spots
Since a lot of salt is used during the preservation process, sometimes some white spots and lumps may appear over the biltong. Many people confuse it with mold, and they simply throw away good pieces of meat. If there is a mold, the product will smell differently, and the meat will change its color. But, if there is a salt that appears over them, and the color and smell look just fine, then the product is safe to use. Try to eat a small piece, so you can see if there is any change in the texture. If it doesn’t seem right, simply spit it out and throw it away. Don’t give spoiled meat to your pets or stray animals, since it can be dangerous for them too.
People use dried meat since ancient times, so they can have it for a longer time. It’s not something new for humankind. But, the secret is to store it properly, so you can enjoy the taste the whole season. Just follow these tips, and we are sure you will learn how to keep the biltong fresh and nicely stored all the time.