beef jerky on kitchen table
The Difference Between Biltong And Beef Jerky
By Heidi Chaya
You might know of a meat snack similar to beef jerky called "biltong," which is derived from the Dutch words "bil" (rump) and "tong" (tongue or strip). Biltong originated with the indigenous people of South Africa, and Dutch colonists influenced the product sold today in the U.S.; however, the preparations and textures are worlds apart.
Making beef jerky entails trimming and defatting lean beef, cutting it into strips, and treating it with a curing solution before slowly cooking or smoking it. Many people also make jerky at home using a dehydrator or oven, but in either case, moisture reduction is crucial to preserving microorganism growth and slowing spoilage at the cost of being chewy.
By contrast, biltong is typically made from fattier cuts of beef or other animal meats cut into slabs or large pieces and marinated with spices and vinegar to prevent microorganisms from growing. They are then air-dried without the use of heat, and after a week or so, they're usually cut into slices that are thinner than your average jerky, resulting in a crumbly, flaky mouthfeel, sometimes compared to charcuterie.
According to Healthline, biltong and jerky have similar nutritional profiles — high in protein and relatively low in fat and carbohydrates. However, both jerky and biltong also have a fair amount of sodium, and biltong, in particular, may contain a lot of saturated fat.