Biltong is a perishable product which means it requires correct handling procedures to prevent it from going off and becoming mouldy.
Keep in a dry, cool area. The fridge is a good alternative. Remember biltong is meat in a dry preserved format, but the basic characteristics of meat still remain with the product. Meat needs to be stored at low temperatures to prevent or prolong spoilage. Biltong is no different.
Keep out of direct sunlight and heat. Heat is the catalyst for microorganisms to grow. This means the hotter it gets, the quicker organisms such as mould and spoilage bacteria grow.
Store in a brown paper bag. Do not use a plastic bag. Brown bags enable the biltong to ‘breath’ by creating a path for moisture to escape and which eliminates the possibility of ‘sweaty’ biltong. Shuffling your biltong in a brown bag frequently creates ‘breathing’ space for the pieces and assists in removing moisture but also prevents it from spoiling.
Wetter sliced biltong should be shuffled a couple of times throughout the day. This helps to distribute the humidity around the pieces and prevents mould from growing. Remember mould likes highly humid conditions and will, therefore, find its way to the wettest areas which are conducive to mould growth. It is the same principle as having a fan or air flow when drying biltong at home – get the air to move and help the moisture move away from the biltong. Biltong doesn’t like high humidity at all and will either mould or even spoil if left long enough in wet conditions.
Large biltong pieces or slabs should also be kept in a brown bag or hung in a well-ventilated area. As with sliced biltong, the biltong needs a cool dry area to continue the natural drying process. A higher humidity will certainly increase the risk of mould and spoilage. Ensure that your whole piece of biltong has as little as possible surface area covered. Placing the piece flat on a surface will create a higher humidity on the bottom (covered) area than the area on top where more ‘breathing’ and ventilation of the piece can take place. So, turn your whole piece of biltong regularly. Freshly sliced biltong should be consumed within a day to ensure the best taste experience. Slice whole pieces as and when you need them. This brings results in a much better biltong taste. If you can, rather store large whole pieces than sliced biltong. Larger pieces keep the characteristics of biltong better and a fresh slice is just so must better than one been sliced days earlier!
Freshly sliced biltong should be consumed within a day. This will ensure the best taste experience. Slice whole pieces as and when you need them. This brings results in a much better biltong taste. If you can, rather store large whole pieces than sliced biltong. Larger pieces keep the characteristics of biltong better and a fresh slice is just so must better than one been sliced days earlier!
Slice whole pieces as and when you need them. This results in a much better biltong taste. If you can, rather store large whole pieces than sliced biltong. Larger pieces keep the characteristics of biltong better and a fresh slice is just so must better than one been sliced days earlier!
LONGER STORAGE PERIODS
The best way to store biltong for long periods is to pack it in modified atmosphere package and then store at low temperatures. This can either be done using a plain vacuum bag or a gas flush bag/container.
Normal vacuum pack shrinks the biltong slices together and one may have a lump of biltong sticking to each other when using this method, especially on wetter pieces. The vacuum removes oxygen and therefore extends the shelf life of the biltong product.
Gas flush packages is a involves first vacuuming the pack (taking out all air and oxygen) and then flushing the bag or pack with a CO2 and nitrogen mixture so that pieces are still loose. This results in pieces being loose in the pack but also making sure that no oxygen is in the pack.
We recommend storing biltong in a very dry environment like a freezer. The most important part to remember is to store biltong in an airtight container when freezing. Moisture naturally goes to the coldest point in a room or area and a freezer will quickly extract all moisture (and taste!) left in your biltong if given the opportunity. Storing your biltong in a container that is not air tight will result in the biltong drying out, similar to meat getting ‘freezer burns’ because of the exposure to the conditions within the freezer.
Biltong should not be stored for long periods – it is there to be enjoyed and not packed away!
If you need to store it, ensure the conditions and package method of the biltong is robust. The main aspect to remember is that the condition and packaging when stored determines the outcome/result of how long it can be stored and what quality will remain over time. Meat attracts flavours in the air so if there is open fish or “strong odour” items in the freezer with the biltong, you can be sure your biltong will take on some of these flavours over time.
SUMMARY OF GUIDELINES
Keep freshly sliced in a brown paper bag. Consume immediately or at least within 2 days in dry cool conditions. Remember to shuffle the bag frequently so the biltong can breathe.
Do not keep whole pieces in fridge for longer than 3 days as it can start to grow mould (like cheese) if too wet or conditions in the fridge are not correct. Rather hang whole pieces and keep it ventilated.
MAP vacuum pack is the ideal storage method for biltong products but it is also the most expensive. It keeps your product in almost the same condition as when first packed and keeps the flavour inside. If you can, gas flush your products and store in a fridge below 5 degrees for a period of 6 months at most. Ensure your product is not too wet as moisture will increase the risk of spoilage and mould even in such a controlled environment.
If you must freeze biltong, it will last for up to 12 months but remember the container or packaging is key. Vacuum packs can help here but ensure the bag is not popped or “blown”.
Remember the warmer the storage conditions, the shorter the shelf life will be. Also the higher the humidity, the higher the risk of spoilage and mould.