Sliced dry meat on a wooden board
The Key Difference Between Biltong And Beef Jerky
Biltong is a dried meat product from Africa. While it resembles beef jerky, its preparation and flavor set it apart from the beef jerky commonly found on American shelves.
Biltong uses a vinegar and salt base for flavoring and curing processes. For additional aroma, it's filled out with spices like coriander, cloves, curry, black pepper, and chilies.
Unlike jerky, biltong relies on a completely air-dried process, which lends it a meatier consistency. Depending on how long it cures and dries, the texture can be moist or crispy.
Jerky, on the other hand, is usually noted for its smokey taste, thinner slices, and sweet notes. Its key distinction is in the preparation process — external heat is utilized.
Unlike biltong, jerky is made with a dehydrator or other external heat source and can be made in only three hours as a result. It is often smoked at the same time.
Not all jerky is cured, although much of it does spend time in a marinade, like biltong. It relies on salt and sugar for preservation, as well as heat-induced caramelization.
Jerky is also usually infused with a smokey flavor, which is absent when making biltong. Jerky also has a more brittle, cracked consistency.