Craft & Design
Quick n’ dirty biltong maker

Twitterer @monkeysailor (aka Andrew Lewis) posted links to photos of his el cheapo mini biltong maker.

@make @craft Behold! $2 and 15 mins of awesome biltong making goodness!

What on earth is biltong, you ask? Let’s ask Wikipedia:

Biltong is a kind of cured meat that originated in South Africa. Many different types of meat are used to produce it, ranging from beef through game meats to fillets of ostrich from commercial farms. It is typically made from raw fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. It is similar to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats, but differ in their typical ingredients, taste and production process. The word biltong is from the Dutch bil (“rump”) and tong (“strip” or “tongue”).

I like the way he hangs the meat inside the curer.

30 thoughts on “Quick n’ dirty biltong maker

    1. Pretty much, it’s just a 12v fan that blows constant air over the meat. You can use a halogen lamp to warm the chamber, but I found it works fine without extra heat.

      It should work for things like apple rings and droe wors, but I haven’t tried it yet.

        1. I’m just this minute putting together a decent blog, so I can get all of my recipes and mini-projects in one place. I’ll post a link once I have it ready :)

  1. The only problem with this is too little biltong!
    I use a standard dehydrator, and a recipe that I found online. My friends from Zimbabwe approve- but they promise me some real african biltong someday.

      1. Not yet, but I have lots of faith in Mr. Brown. I’d like to this summer, though.

        I’ve heard concerns that it wouldn’t heat the meat up enough, but it’s not heat that dries meat out, it’s the constant airflow, so I think it’d probably be fine.

        Besides, I suspect that Food Network’s lawyers wouldn’t have allowed him to suggest it if they weren’t pretty sure it wasn’t going to give someone food poisoning.

  2. There’s a similar Italian cured meat called “coppiette”, it’s extremely tasty and makes me want to build this device right now :-)

    Wouldn’t you want to keep it in a cool place to keep bacterial proliferation low while dehydrating ?

    How long did it take to dry the piece of meat in the photo ?

    1. The meat is bathed in vinegar, and well spiced with salt before it is hung. This is enough to deter bacteria. Unlike bacon, biltong is usually prepared in hot climates, and the heat helps to dry the meat faster. Some biltong makers actually include a heating element to speed up the process.

      The meat in the photo had been hanging for one day, and I left it drying for another 3 days. It was quite a large piece of steak with a weight over 1KG.

    1. I used a 7.5 volt plug in transformer. The fan was 12 volt, but I chose a 7.5v adapter because:

      1) I had one lying around
      2) It reduced the noise of the fan

      Any spare plug-in style adapter with a voltage between 5-12 volts should be fine :)

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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