One of the more significant emotions following on from my paleo trials two weeks ago was a rekindling with my love affair for biltong. As mentioned in my last post, the price of biltong per gram is ridiculously high, the printer fluid of the meat world, mostly down to the time consuming process it takes to cure and dry the meats.
Naturally, if someone is making a significant profit in making such, it makes sense to consider making ones own to save money. I have the added incentive to move off-grid when I retire “soon” and as such I would not want to waste any resources.
So, armed with a cordless drill, bits of wood, screws, a perspex sheet, an old computer fan and a light-bulb, I spent a few hours yesterday creating my own “drying station”. The weather was nice and within minutes the form took shape, the quality of the end result surpassed my expectations and surprised the family too (me being an office worker).
With the box built, I took to the beef this morning, preparing the dry rub and the meat. Even the smell of the dry rub took my thoughts back to Cape Town, the mix of pepper, salt and coriander seeds instantly recognizable.
With the meat prepared, the only thing left to do was to hang it out to dry for 3-4 days in the box. After a rather heated discussion with the significant other on where I could store/dry it (on the basis that it may be a bit smelly), so for iteration one and the weather being good today and tomorrow, I’ll keep it outdoors and bring it in when the rains come in on Wednesday.
The proof is in the pudding of course, but it’s a good start and I have already picked up some probable improvements in terms of the preparations for next time (drying the meat out more).
The meat cost £16 for 2kgs, the equivalent biltong at the supermarket would cost £120, so with pepper, vinegar, salt and coriander seeds costing around £4, a cost saving of £100. Huge!
This time I used beef, but I’m off to the local butchers later to see if he can procure grass-fed beef and more importantly venison, which will be my meat of choice going forward.
My friend was totally shocked this weekend when I told him that I was thinking of taking up hunting, he thought it would be accompanied with a subscription to the Conservative Party. Allaying his fear, I advised him that a true hunter-gatherer needs to kill for food, never for sport. We have a gun club locally and hopefully next weekend will see the wife and I acquire some basic targeting skills.
We will of course need to find out where one can shoot deer and of course think about storage solutions, biltong box and freezer. Ethically its better (when comparing against mass produced meats), environmentally it’s better (when compared to the resources cows use and the waste products they produce in the process – not even close), cost wise its better (when compared to the equivalent meat at the butchers shop). The only real down side, of course, Walt Disney’s Bambi…