Beef jerky vs beef biltong

Beef jerky is a popular snack, offering a healthy option for those looking for something to eat on the go. Jerky is not to be confused with beef biltong from South Africa. Biltong is also a dried meat, but the process, thickness and meats used differ from that of beef jerky. Though there may be a lot of differences, there are many similarities between these two dried meat snacks.

History of both snacks

When comparing beef jerky vs beef biltong you will find a very similar history behind the creation of the two. The concept of drying out meat dates back to ancient Egypt when they discovered a way they could keep meat long after the kill. This made is possible to preserve meats that were leftover and have food available for extended periods of time.

According to MadeHow, beef jerky was originally created in South America during the 1800s, when the Quechua produced a meat product similar to the jerky we eat today. Beef jerky was used in the early days in America to not only help preserve leftover meat, but to also offer something cowboys and settlers to use when they traveled long distances. It is still used by campers, athletes and others who need healthy snacks full of protein but do not have access to refrigeration.

There are many stories behind how biltong was actually created, but all stories share the same idea and the need for a solution to preserve leftover meats. South African Biltong beef jerky was created to help to help meet the need to preserve meat that was hunted for. This South African dried beef snack is made using a similar method used by the Dutch settlers. They would season strips of meat with salt, vinegar and spices before handing the meat over tree branches to dry out. They has the climate(temperature) available to them to enable this slow drying process.

The process for making beef jerky and beef biltong currently has obviously became more professional from a food standard perspective, but it basically follows the same principle that was used all those years ago.

What is beef jerky?

The word jerky comes from the Quechua word ch’arki meaning dried, salted meat. Beef jerky are pieces of lean meats that have been trimmed of most of the fat and then dried. The drying process is used to help prevent spoilage, making it possible to store the meat without the need of refrigeration.

How beef jerky made

During the drying process, majority of companies will just use salt and other artificial additives are added to help prevent bacteria from growing on the meat and to help ensure enough moisture is removed. Then, to to create beef jerky, you need a form of low-temperature drying, salt and other ingredients. Some even marinate beef strip or use a spice rub to add flavor before drying.

Jerky can be made with just about any kind of meat. Beef, chicken, pork and turkey. It can be any type of meat as long as it has been properly cured with a salt solution and enough of the moisture in the meat has been removed during the drying process. Marinating and seasoning gives beef jerky a powerful flavor many brands now offer. Some of the most common flavors found at stores today include pepper jerky, teriyaki,  barbecue, hickory smoked and some spicy flavors.

Many manufactures use poor quality meat in the manufacture of jerky. They essentially mince all the meat together with high levels of salt, sugar and artifical ingredients to make the jerky barely edible.

At Rucksnacks, we are different, as we only use premium beef in our jerky, fully quality assured and traceable back to the farm. That way, we only need a tiny amount of our unique spice blend for different flavours.

What is biltong?

According to Rainbow Cooking, Biltong is a South African dried meat made from a variety of meats. The word biltong comes from the Dutch language. Bil means rump and tong means strip. Many in South Africa keep biltong with them as a source of food and nutrients. Because of the drying process, like beef jerky, this product can be kept for long periods of time without the need for refrigeration.

Though typically this meat is made from beef, it is also made from game meats, such as kudu, Wildebeest and springbok. Biltong is also made from ostrich, fish (also known as bokkoms) and chicken. These meats are cut into flat slices, dried and preserved with spices and salts.

How beef biltong is made

When making beef biltong, the meat is cured with a mixture of salt, spices and vinegar. These strips of beef are then put into a drying cabinet for three to four days. The length of time needed to dry out the meat is dependent upon how thick the strips are.

Biltong is made from more types of meat, such as kudu, ostrich and other game animals. The South Africa dried meat is made by cutting the meat into one to two inch strips before marinating and curing. Black pepper and coriander are commonly put on the strips just before putting them into the dryer.

At Rucksnacks, we are different, as we only use premium beef in our beef biltong, fully quality assured and traceable back to the farm. That way, we only need a tiny amount of our unique spice blend for different flavours.

What is droewors?

Droewors is another South African snack food that is made with a coriander-seed spiced boerewors sausage. Traditional makings of this snack is made from dun wors, a thin African sausage, versus dik wors, a thick sausage. This is mostly because the thinner sausage dries out much faster than thicker cuts of meats.

Most recipes for droewors use dried sausages made from beef, but some have been made with pork and veal. The drying process, like that of beef jerky and beef biltong make it possible to store the sausage without the need of refrigeration.

As you can see, both jerky and biltong do have their similarities. However, each one has its own unique process, which can give it a different taste. So when it comes to beef jerky vs beef biltong, the type you like will depend upon your preferences and which type of dried meat snack you are looking to enjoy.

Beef jerky vs beef biltong

Both beef jerky and beef biltong are similar. They are both dried pieces of meat that are spiced for added flavouring. However, the ingredients and production processes used to make each one is different. They also each have their own unique taste and texture once the drying process is complete.

The first difference between the two is the thickness of the strip. Jerky is cut into thinner strips, while biltong is made using one to two inch strips of meat. After drying, Biltong is then sliced into thin pieces, and jerky is typically  a bit chewier.

The second difference is jerky, in most cases, is not made using a vinegar solution. It uses the spices to help preserve the meat, add flavor and give it a smoky flavor. Biltong relies greatly upon the type of meat used to give it the unique flavor it has.

Another way biltong and jerky are different is the process it takes to make it. Jerky is dehydrated meat and can take anywhere from two to eight hours to finish. While according to, biltong goes through a drying process and can take anywhere from three to seven days to complete the process.

The final difference is the types of meat used. Jerky is made mostly by using beef, chicken, pork and turkey meats. Similarly, biltong is made using mainly beef however you can get a wide variety of game meats, ostrich and fish in certain countries.

A word of caution – Different meats are associated with different food safety controls – therefore sufficient controls must be in place to avoid any food safety risk, so we would not recommend trying this at home. At Rucksnacks, we have implemented procedures, standards and controls to ensure our snacks are completely safe and the best quality.

At Rucksnacks, we perfected our method and recipe in our farmhouse kitchen. Our gourmet beef jerky and beef biltong are the best snacks on the market. Check out our reviews of our healthy and tasty beef bites.