Biltong making - for Crusty044

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Biltong making - for Crusty044

Post by Bubba » Sat May 18, 2013 21:46

I'm posting this for Crusty044 / Jan / Clogwog to get a conversation started and helped him by copy / pasting a letter he received from a company that sells Biltong Spices.

Crusty044 will explain further.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Let me first introduce myself. My name is Jan Ooms from Brisbane, Australia. Dutch born, Australian naturalised and living here since 1965.
I am a keen Biltong maker and use your Safari Biltong Seasoning and Chakalaka Biltong Seasoning ( hot) with great results. I even smoke some some of the biltong.
My query is in relation to the cure(s) used in both seasonings, if any.
I am also a keen sausage, bacon and ham maker and smoker, all these products use cure #1 as a safeguard to botulism.
Reading your labels on both seasoning packs, there is no mention of any cures listed.
This has got me worried
About ten years ago, we had a couple of deaths in Adelaide of people that ate dried salami where the cure # 2 was NOT included in the meat mix by a well known smallgoods manufacturer.
Can you see why I am writing to you?
I make this biltong for free mainly for friends and my grandkids as well. I hate to have something happen to them.
Hopefully you can shed some light on a very worried Ouwe Kaaskop down under here.
Yours Sincerely,
Jan Ooms.
Brisbane.
Australia.



Dear Mr. Ooms

Below the ingredient declarations of the spices you mention in your original mail.
(I made reference to the product codes next to the name for purpose of clarification on which one you might use)

BILTONG SEASONING SAFARI (Product code: 4402200)

Flavouring [MSG (E621), Colourants (E150, E153), Hydrogenated Vegetable
Fat (Palm fruit), Anticaking Agent (E551), Acidulants (E363, E330, E510, E339) ,
Flavour Enhancer (E631, E627), Flavourings, Herbs, Antioxidants ((BHA
(E320), BHT (E321), TBHQ (E321), Alpha - Tocopherol (E307)) ,
Preservatives (E202, E224)], Salt, Spice, Preservative:Potassium Sorbate,
Sucrose


CHAKALAKA SEASONING (Product code: 4441011)

Salt, MSG (Flavour Enhancer), Mixed Spices (Irradiated) & Spice Extracts,
Dextrose, Dehydrated Vegetables [(Garlic,Onion-Irradiated),Bellpepper
Red,Bellpepper Green], Acidity Regulator, Corn Starch, Flavour Enhancers
(Nature-identical Flavouring Substances, Flavouring Preparations,
Maltodextrin (Waxy Maize) , Starch Modified El 450 (Waxy Maize), Disodium
guanylate, Disodium inosinate), Flavouring [Glucose, Sugar, Starch, Colourant
(E-150), Acidifying Agent (E-330), Artificial Flavourants], Corn Syrup Solids

Discussion on Safari biltong:
You will notice from the Safari ingredient declaration we have the following preservatives present:
Preservative: Potassium Sorbate - this ingredient aids in the inhibition of mould growth on biltong.

If your process include the correct dosage level of Safari seasoning(45 -50g/kg of raw cut meat) plus you dry in a well ventilated area (temperature max 30°C and away from flies) - like a biltong cabinet - and you consume the biltong dry to moderately dry (approx 50% weight loss) - there should not be any problems.
The high salt content of biltong, the low water activity (reached by drying) plus the Potassium sorbate all assist in avoiding harmfull bacterial growth.

Once your biltong is dried - do not store at ambient temperatures vacuum packed - this might cause it to spoil over time.
Freeze the biltong or store at ambient temperatures in a cotton (breathable) bag.

Chakalaka Seasoning:
Note that the Chakalaka spice (if I am referring to the correct one) does not contain any preservatives - But I am assuming you are using it in conjunction with Safari? Or not? If not again the process of sufficient drying in well ventilated area plus the high salt content should not pose any problems.

You mention that Salami were the culprit in Adelaide. In salami the preservative used is: Sodium nitrite (only) or a combination of Sodium nitrite and Sodium nitrate - these additives is the main ingredient to avoid food spoilage. Note that the process of Salami manufacturing is different to biltong in the sense that salami is meat - chopped up, mixed with spices and cure, then filled, smoked and fermented to a certain weight. (less than 50%) Starter cultures is mostly used to assist with this fermentation process. The problems with salami happens mostly where the outside dries faster than it should and the inside the inner meat part does not dry and ferment as required. (mostly based on the diameter of the salami unit)

Biltong is whole muscle pieces and in the process of biltong making that piece of meat is dried very well! Biltong is also smaller in diameter and drying therefore happens faster than the fermentation process relevant to salami.

A general rule of thumb -if the biltong smells strange or you see mould growth that is not white - avoid consumption. However white mould could be wiped with a cloth dipped in vinegar and would not be a problem at all.

I trust the info supplied assisted in calming your fears. Continue to enjoy Safari biltong with us.

Kind regards,

Alida Rossouw
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Post by crustyo44 » Mon May 20, 2013 08:43

Bubba, Thank you posting the reply. To copy/paste or drag and drop email in a post is just impossible for me.

To our knowledgeable members,
Snagman brought to my attention that the Biltong spices we use have no cure #1 or #2 at all in it.
As you can see by my query to Crown National, they seem to think it is not required.
Gus and me and I imagine many other biltong makers would be worried about it or least are thinking about it.
Are there any people with more curing experience than us two who can explain better why a cure is not used.
Thank you,
Jan.
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Post by sawhorseray » Mon May 20, 2013 17:07

I was thinking biltong was some kind of jerky and in a way it is, I guess, I still don't know exactly what it is. I checked out the web to find the American version of biltong to see what the FDA would require as far as preservatives and came up with this site. Interesting stuff, no nitrates or nitrites involved appearantly. RAY
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”
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Post by sawhorseray » Mon May 20, 2013 17:08

Ooop. forgot to include the link to the site.

http://www.biltongusa.com/nutritional-f ... nefits.htm
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Post by crustyo44 » Tue May 21, 2013 07:12

Thanks Ray for that website. I might email them or give them a ring.
Drying meat without a cure still got me on edge.
Cheers Mate,
Jan.
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Post by timwru » Sat Jun 15, 2013 17:59

Hi there,

In South Africa where Biltong comes from most homemade Biltong is made without any form of "pink Salt" and I do not know of any deaths in my lifetime and I am 51. Tons of this is made annually by many hunters here as well as enthusiasts. As stated it is the whole muscle cut into strips - ie solid meat
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Post by crustyo44 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 20:26

Hi Tim,
Thank you for your input on the biltong and cure usage query. I know that nobody has died yet of eating biltong, I ate plenty of it in Kaapstad when I was there many years ago before I decided to settle in Australia.
Nevertheless, I still feel that to be on the safe side it needs a cure.
Maybe I am a bit paranoid but my grandkids love it and I make heaps for them and I like to sleep at night not worrying if I made the right decision.
I will be adding some cure #2,
Cheers Mate,
Jan.
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Post by Janlab » Thu Dec 19, 2013 16:50

Hi all,
I am new here. I got here through my quest to learn more about fermented sausages. I am South African, now living in Australia. Reading through the forum, I found this thread, and although late, would like to comment. I am not a biochemist or food microbiologist, but do have some scientific background. And I have also never heard of anyone becoming sick from biltong (apart from eating too much!)

I have made a lot of biltong in my life and have also often wondered about the "safety" of the process. But reading Marianski's book, and reading here, it is clear that the old Afrikaners did the right thing without knowing why, just like the old Italian Salami makers;
As said above, solid strips of meat is used, so any bacteria will be on the surface. The meat is kept very cold.
Then, the brine used to cure is very salty, 10% rocksalt by weight, so that will inhibit any bacterial activity.
Also, brown vinager is used in good amounts, lowering the surface pH significantly. (I taste the brine and can testify to that.) So another protective measure.
Then, the meat is hung so that the suface dry very quickly, we call it "winddroog"; wind dry, lowering the Aw further significantly very quickly, adding the final barrier to pathogenic bacterial growth. After that, it is dried even more, with only the centre staying moist, and there are no bacteria there!

Regarding cure no 1; the meat is not cooked, so should not be used. (I do not believe in a lamp heating the air). And as far as cure no 2; there will be no bacteria active to convert the nitrate, so also a waste.

Some further points;
I never bother to buy any pre mixed biltong making spices, as seen from the letter, they contain a lot of additives not necessary.

Just roast your own corriander, and grind with a mortar and pestle, use rocksalt, and white pepper, with a bit of brown sugar for color. Brown vinigar for acidity, also 10% volume by weight. Roll meat in salt mixture, rubbing it. Pack in layers, sprinkling with vinigar. Cure for two to three hours, depending on taste, wash off any rocksalt with vinigar, roll again in coriander, and hang. If you make thick biltong, cure up to six hours.

I have made a very cheap home made dryer (we don't call it a dehumidifyer!), the info for which I can post if there is interest.

Haven't found out yet how to post photos.

For what its worth...

Jan L
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Post by crustyo44 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 20:47

Hallo Jan L,
Welkom bij die Forum. A great way of meeting other charcuterie fanatics.
We have already a lot of members from Australia and our very own section under Hyde Park.
I enjoyed you post about your way of making biltong.
I bet every family has their own recipe, sometimes closely guarded.
Can you post your info/plans in regard to your biltong dryer.
My smoker is fitted with a small exhaust fan to dry the strips, I smoke them for a couple of hours a day until I like the smell and taste.
Cheers,
Jan O.
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Post by Janlab » Sat Dec 21, 2013 02:59

Dankie Jan O, of sal ek sê; Oom Jan?!
Thanks Jan,
I shall post as soon as I have worked out how to do photos.
Jan L
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Post by npede12 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 13:53

Hi All,
I've been making Biltong for several years now and have never used a cure besides salt.
I usually make it the way Janlab does however the last few times all I've used is equal parts of dark soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce with a few teaspoons of crushed garlic and chili for around 2 kg of meat. I marinate in the fridge for around 24 hours. After patting dry i dust with pepper and hang in a box with fly wire walls and bottom then hang the box from a wooden hook on the back porch till meat is dry, (around a week).
Dad grew up in Kenya and also made Biltong the way Janlab described but as well as the corriander they added a heap of black pepper to keep insects of because they hung it outside in the sun to dry.
Regards,
Nigel
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Post by crustyo44 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 20:29

Hi Nigel,
Welcome to the Forum. I love making Biltong as my four grandkids demand it.
I prefer to cold smoke it first after the curing period and dry it for the next few days and still have it soft on the inside.
The reason I asked about cure is because where I live the humidity is sometimes over 90 percent and stinking hot to match.
Cheers,
Jan O.
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Post by Janlab » Sun Mar 09, 2014 20:43

Nigel,

The best thing about curing meat is illustrated by your current method of biltong making; you add or leave flavours according to taste.

My latest is "big" biltong, ie whole girello or eye of round, or pocket roasts, same spices, and in brine for 24-30 hrs, then in the dryer for up to five weeks. I slice it paperthin with the slicer...yummm!

A friend rubs them with thick balsamic vinegar before the brine, and chilli flakes in the spice mix is popular. On another forum someone uses five spice, and the list goes on.

And then there is with or without smoke, cold of course as per Jan, since you don't want to cook the meat. Alas, so much to try, so little time.....

Jan L
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Post by npede12 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 02:25

I havent tried cold smoking my biltong yet but will as soon as i make a smoke generator. unfortunately i only have a masterbuilt hot smoker at the moment but am in the process of buying the stuff needed for a cold smoker.
When im in Melbourne i try to get to the Victoria Market because there is a little stall there that sell cold smoked, dried beef called Kalishi and also droewors which are both excellent but a bit pricey
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Post by crustyo44 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 08:22

Hi JanL,
Your mention of Big Biltong certainly has got me interested, although all these things have got to wait until I have a long stretch of being at home.
The "Big Biltong" certainly can be dried in an UMAi bag in the fridge. This would suit me fine as it no longer is dependant on atmospheric conditions.
Winter is coming up and I intend to be flat out, curing, smoking, stuffing etc etc.
Cheers,
Jan.
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