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By: Biltong  05/12/2011
Keywords: beef, meat, Biltong

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For most South Africans, these strips of salted, dried beef still remains the tastiest snack. This popular delicacy is synonymous with tradition and various forms of biltong is found in other countries. As a general rule, only lean meat is suitable for drying.

Ronde or Predikants Biltong – Made with Silverside or topside
Garing Biltong – Eye muscle running down both sides of the backbone
Binnebiltong or Ouma se biltong – the most tender biltong which is made from the fillet.

The Dutch settlers who arrived in “Cape of Good Hope” in the 17th century brought recipes for dried meat from the Old World. Preparation involved applying vinegar, then rubbing the strips of meat with a mix of herbs, salts and spices. The need for preservation in the new Colony was pressing. Building up herds of livestock took a long time. There was native game about, but it could take hunters days to track and kill a large animal such as an eland. They were then faced with the problem of preserving a large mass of meat in a short time in a hot climate during a period of history before iceboxes had been invented. Desiccation solved the problem. Biltong as we understand it today evolved from the dried meat carried by the wagon-travelling Voortrekkers, who needed stocks of durable food as they migrated from the Cape Colony North-Eastward (away from British rule) into the interior of Southern Africa during the Great Trek. The raw meat was preserved from decay and insects within a day or two, and within a fortnight, would be black and rock-hard after it had fully cured.


Droëwors (Afrikaans lit. "dry sausage") is a popular South African snack food, made by drying the traditional, coriander-seed spiced boerewors sausage. It is usually made from dunwors (Afr. "thin sausage") rather than dikwors ("thick sausage"), as the thinner sausage dries more quickly and is thus less likely to spoil before it can be preserved.

Droëwors is unusual among dried meats in being dried quickly in warm, dry conditions, unlike traditional Italian cured salami, which is dried slowly in relatively cold and humid conditions. A further difference is that droëwors is made from the normal frying/cooking sausage (boerewors), and therefore does not have the same content of curing agent that is found in a traditional cured sausage.

Other forms of dehydrated meat products:
Odka – Somalia and other East African Countries
Qwanta – Ethiopia and other East African countries
Kilishi – Nigeria and other arid or semi arid zones of West Africa
Pastirma – Turkey, Egypt and Armenia
Charque – Brazil and other South American countries


Sausage-making is a very old form of food preservation – it is believed that sausages have been made for as long as animals have been slaughtered for food. The making of boerewors sausages, peculiar to South Africa has become an art form. This coarse, loose textured sausage is flavoured with spices such as coriander, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, the kind of seasoning used is often influenced by the area in which the boerewors is made.

Boerewors was invented about 200 years ago in The Netherlands. It is made from coarsely minced beef (sometimes combined with minced pork, lamb, or both) and spices (usually coriander seed, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and allspice). The sausage is preserved with salt and vinegar , and packed in sausage casings. Traditional boerewors is usually formed into a continuous spiral, as illustrated on the right. Boerewors is often served with pap (traditional porridge made from maize). Boerewors is very common in South Africa & Zimbabwe and sometimes also eaten in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Swaziland and Australia. To be classified as a real Boerewors it must contain at least 90% real meat of which at least 75% must be beef and may not contain more than 30% fat, the rest of the meat will normally be pork (and made by a “boer”).

Keywords: beef, Biltong, Boerewors, meat