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The Biltong Story - Part 1

Biltong Story

 

Ever wondered what biltong is or where it originated from? The next couple of posts will aim to answer some if not all of the questions you might have.

The word biltong is derived from two Dutch words - "Bil" meaning buttock and "Tong" meaning either strip or tongue. Now buttock might seem like a strange starting point, but (no pun intented) the best cuts of biltong would have been made from the rump of the animal. Most biltong today is made from either a silverside or topside cut of beef. The "Tong" part refers to how the meat was cut. Usually along the grain of the meat and in long strips.

Throughout the ages there has been a need to preserve all kinds of food and meat is no exception. Biltong as we know it today started with this need to have a reliable source of protein when Dutch speaking settlers wanted to escape the then British rule of the early Cape colony in South Africa. Meat preservation using salt or brine was no new concept but thank goodness these early explorers and settlers thought to add vinegar, pepper, and coriander to the mix. It is this glorious blend of spices that form the base of most biltong recipes today.

AteAllTheBiltong


Sure, the addition of vinegar wasn't just for taste. To prevent nasty bacteria and other foodborne toxins from forming, these clever biltong masters had to draw on the power of nature and science to ensure the safety of the end product. Vinegar and its low pH along with salt forms the base for a natural yet potent preserving mix. Certain studies have also indicated that coriander oil in mild concentrations will aid in providing some antimicrobial fighting power.


With this knowledge our Dutch speaking friends had the ability to preserve the abundance of game available during the migration into mainland South Africa. Meat would be cut into strips sprinkled with vinegar and marinated in available spices. Refrigeration or even ice boxes had not been invented so the meat was simply hung on the back of the wagons used to travel. Here it would hang for the next two weeks to dry. Cloth bags were used to store the biltong. This was another important preserving step. Without the ability to "breath" the biltong would go mouldy. The cloth bags allowed air circulation around the pieces of biltong thus preventing mould from forming.


In the next post we will look at how biltong has evolved (sneak peak - it hasn't that much) to what you are buying from us today.

Great Taste Award Winning Biltong

GreatTaste

 

 

Great Taste, the world’s most coveted food awards, which celebrates the very best in food and drink, has announced the Great Taste stars of 2018. Out of over 12,600 products to be judged, The Cambridge Biltong Company was awarded a 1-star Great Taste award, which means judges dubbed it a food that delivers fantastic flavour for its Classic Black Pepper. Judges comments included;

 

‘Fresh to taste, the meat is tender to eat, the pepper comes through well and there is a pleasant citrus sweetness.’

 

‘A good moist chew with lovely end tones.’


Judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs and producers, as well as a whole host of food writers and journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers. As well as a badge of honour, the unmistakable black and gold Great Taste label is a signpost to a wonderful tasting product, which has been discovered through hours and hours of blind-tasting by hundreds of judges.        

Peter van Delft, founder of The Cambridge Biltong Company, explains: having only started in 2017 we knew that entering The Great Taste Awards (and hopefully achieving the honour of being awarded one of the coveted stars) would really help us make our mark on the British Charcuterie scene. Our goal is to produce the best biltong using locally sourced beef. This award has not been achieved alone. We take great care in selecting the beef for our biltong and as such would like to give a special mention to CamCattle for providing such premium quality beef.


Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste values taste above all else, with no regard for branding and packaging. Whether it is vinegar, granola, bacon or cheese being judged, all products are removed from their wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award.

There were 12,634 entries into Great Taste this year and of those products, 192 have been awarded a 3-star, 1,207 received a 2-star and 3,254 were awarded a 1-star accolade. The panel of judges this year included; MasterChef 2018 champion, Kenny Tutt, chef and food writer, Elly Curshen, eco chef and food writer, Tom Hunt, author and chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, baker Tom Herbert, author and blogger, Izy Hossack, and baker and recipe writer, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Harrods, Selfridges and Sourced Market. These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners to finally agree on the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2018 Supreme Champion.  

Great Taste 2018 will reach its exciting finale on Sunday 2 September, when the world of fine food gathers at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel, London to find out the Great Taste Golden Fork trophy winners for each region, with the final applause reserved for the Great Taste Supreme Champion 2018.