The very short version is that biltong is the result of the Southern African traditional method of curing meat products. So, in that sense, you have arrived at the first answer – yes, it is like jerky.
Or is it?
See, both meat products come from the original inhabitants of the USA and Southern Africa respectively. Both products were developed from a need to preserve meat hunted on the trail. And in both cases, no vegetables were ever harmed in the production thereof.
Interestingly, in Texas, as in South Africa, an entire sub-culture has formed around these snacks. In South Africa it would be as alien an experience to watch rugby without biltong as it would be to traverse the wide-open plains of Texas without a pack of jerky by your side.
But; and there is always a but… over time jerky has become extremely varied in its production methods and flavors. In some cases, this has unfortunately led to some lengthy ingredient lists, whilst biltong has remained a simple product.
Specifically, for biltong to be biltong, the meat should be cut in thick strips and cured by being hung from a hook in a moisture-controlled environment where it is air dried without any cooking whatsoever. Biltong is never smoked, and artificial smoke flavor has no business being anywhere near biltong. However, because of the simplicity of the process and the short list of ingredients, some experimentation is inevitable, and at TX Biltong we strive to explore the wonderful opportunities the use of exceptional quality beef affords us. At the launch we focused on two flavors – both of which offer a sublime all-natural snack experience (for those wondering, this is fancy talk for rootin’ tootin’ good eatin’).
So the question often comes up – is biltong better than jerky? We can proudly, and manfully say – we make no such claim. Having met many South Africans as well as Texans, we know how seriously beef is taken by both. So, we will leave that up to you, dearest biltongivore. Crack a beer, deliberate and let us know.
What we do know is that the demand for and growing supply of less processed jerky and similar products shows us there is a desire for a natural, unashamedly high-quality protein snack. And we celebrate, and hope to join in the satisfaction of, the chorus of voices clamoring for it. In short, them’s our people.
A South African and a Texan met in Houston one fateful day in 2016. JH and Sean soon found common ground on many matters, and had some healthy debate on others. Among these were a shared love for quality beef in all of its wonderful forms. Logically, as any full-blooded South African would inevitably do, JH introduced Sean to biltong. In turn, as Sean’s kids and later his family took to the new yet strangely familiar dried pieces of paradise that is biltong, a new dispute surfaced. Forget which is better, simply, to what extent is biltong like jerky? Oh, the deliberations they had!
A Texan from the day he uttered his first y’all, Sean would not let the honor of jerky go undefended. Neither words nor red wine were spared in the search for the answer. One day, he said to JH in exasperation “do you even like jerky!?” And so, an idea was formed. “We need to let Texas decide” they agreed in a moment of clarity. Does Texas like jerky? And if so, what about biltong? Having tried, and we feel confident, liked biltong, they can answer: is it like jerky? And so, the Texas Biltong Company took its first tentative steps towards being.
Now, in a never-ending struggle against mediocre beef snacks and dependence on the man, Sean and JH are throwing themselves into the challenge of introducing biltong to Texas and from there onto the rest of the USA.
For those readers interested in facts, lists and shorthand – ignore the long.
Really what we are pitching to you is a meat snack that is:
Suggested locations and occasions for eating biltong:
ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME!