The main difference between biltong and jerky is that biltong comes in thicker cuts while jerky comes in lean cuts and has a smoky flavour.
Biltong and jerky are meat that has been cut into strips and dried to prevent spoilage. Both of these can be made from a wide variety of meat, but beef is the most commonly used meat for them. Since they are forms of dried meat, they can survive long periods of time without refrigeration. Also, they are ready to eat and do not need additional preparation.
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What is Biltong
Biltong is a form of dried or cured meat. It can be made from beef, poultry, fish, or game meats like ostrich or kudu. Biltong originated from South African countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia.
Biltong mainly uses vinegar as its method of preservation. It is made by leaving the meat overnight (sometimes even longer) in vinegar and spice-based solution. Common African spices used include coriander, clove, allspice, and curry. Add-ins like brown sugar, chilli peppers, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and onion powder are sometimes also added. Once the meat is cured, it’s dried in the air (in the absence of heat). Finally, the meat is cut into thick pieces or thin strips. Note that if the meat cuts are thick, it takes a longer time to dry. Generally, the meat cuts in biltong are wider or thicker than the meat cuts in jerky.
The vinegar and spices in the biltong give it a little extra flavour. Moreover, it has a somewhat diverse flavour profile as you make the biltong drier with less fat or chewier and softer with fattier meats.
What is Jerky
Jerky is lean trimmed meat that has been cut into strips and dried to prevent spoilage. Since moisture is removed from the meat, jerky can survive long periods of time without refrigeration. It is ready to eat and does not need additional preparation.
Production of jerky involves slicing the meat into thin strips and then drying them in a dehydrator or cooking them in an oven for up to twelve hours. This preparation method often results in tougher and drier pieces of meat, especially when compared to biltong. Most jerky products on the market in marinated in a mix of seasonings and salt to make them tender and flavour. Salt is a main ingredient in jerky since it acts as a natural preservative.
Difference Between Biltong and Jerky
Biltong is a form of dried or cured meat, which originated in South Africa while jerky is lean trimmed meat that has been cut into strips and dried to prevent spoilage.
Biltong can be made from both lean and thick cuts while jerky is made from lean meat cuts. Generally, jerky comes in leaner cuts than biltong.
Biltong is cured and marinated with vinegar and species for 24 hours and then air-dried for up to a week while jerky is cut very thin and cooked on a rack at a low temperature.
Marinating in vinegar and spices give biltong a little extra flavour. Jerky, on the other hand, has a dry and smoky flavour.
Moreover, biltong is typically made with meat, vinegar and African spices while jerky is made with meat, salt, marinating sauces, flavouring agents, and sometimes sugar.
Biltong can be made from both lean and thick cuts while jerky is made from lean meat cuts. Generally, jerky comes in leaner cuts than biltong. Moreover, marinating in vinegar and spices give biltong a little extra flavour. Jerky, on the other hand, has a dry and smoky flavour. Thus, this is the main difference between biltong and jerky.
1. Anthony, Alyssa. “What Is Biltong? All You Need to Know About the Latest Healthy Snack.” Brooklyn Biltong, Brooklyn Biltong, 23 May 2019, Available here.