Whether you’re new to high-quality meat snacks or have been eating them your entire life, chances are you’ve heard of both biltong and jerky. And if you’ve heard of both biltong and jerky, chances are you’ve noticed that both types of meat snacks have a devoted following. So if you’re wondering whether you need to be team biltong or team jerky, this post describes the differences between the two. After you get a clear idea of how each stacks up, you may not take sides at all and opt to just give them both a try!
Breaking Down the Differences
From origins to texture, biltong and beef jerky couldn’t be more different. So understanding the differences between the two helps you decide which of these tasty dried meat snacks fits your tastes best. The following list gives you a better idea of their differences so you can start shopping:
- Production: Biltong gets made with very little heat but high airflow, while jerky typically is cooked in a dehydrated or smokehouse for hours. On the other hand, biltong is cured and then air dried for days, usually about a week. Before jerky gets dried, it sits in a marinade and then is sliced and laid on a rack to dry. The biggest different in preparation is that biltong is air-dried or cooked while still in its whole muscle form and then sliced after it is done curing. Jerky is the opposite: The whole muscle is sliced, then marinated, then cooked.
- Ingredients: The main ingredient is beef for both meat snacks, but each uses some basic ingredients throughout the process of drying the meat. These ingredients give each its unique flavors. Biltong and jerky both get cured in salt before drying, but jerky may also sit in a variety of different marinades to give jerky a wide range of different flavors.
- Flavor: Because of how they’re made, each dried meat offers a different flavor. Jerky tends to have a smokier flavor that has a hint of more sweetness to it while biltong has a meaty flavor with slightly more acid due to curing in vinegar.
- Texture: With food, texture makes a huge impact, and texture affects people differently. Most often, people label biltong as dried steak. Since biltong is air dried as a whole piece of meat, as opposed to sliced and dried jerky, biltong presents a softer texture. Some describe the texture of biltong as fluffy, whereas they describe jerky as chewy. With biltong, you can get a variety of textures, depending on how long the meat was dried, so you can enjoy it wet and more supple, a bit harder when it’s more well done, or anywhere in between. Jerky, on the other hand, is always fully dried so it has a distinct difference in texture from biltong. Biltong may also contain varying degrees of fat which affect its texture as well.
Sizing Up the Similarities
With all those differences, it’s always nice to see the common ground. Biltong and jerky do have the following things in common:
- They have a huge fan base. We’re not talking about some small social media group here. Countries and entire continents support one form of meat snack or another. Both have been around for centuries, and since they originated in different areas of the world as a way to preserve meat, specific spots have cultivated cultural significance around each meat snack.
- They’re both made of beef. It may seem obvious, but when you consider the variety of textures from biltong, depending on its fat content and drying time, or the range of flavors in beef jerky, you may think you’re eating a variety of meat types instead of one meat prepared in different ways.
- They both make healthy snacks.Some diets put biltong and jerky on the map for people who never thought of eating them before, but those who have been eating these meat snacks for years already knew that jerky and biltong both pack a healthy punch. While nutritional values can differ, you can count on biltong and jerky to be a go-to low-carb snack that’s high in protein and iron.
- They’re both portable.When you need a snack that’s easy to pack, nothing beats the lightweight convenience of biltong and jerky. Both pack simply and easily with little preparation and can never get smooshed at the bottom of your bag like chips and similar snacks.
- They’re both delicious.‘Nuff said.
- Righteous Felon sells a variety of both. You can enjoy three different varieties of biltong and nine different varieties of jerky from Righteous Felon for a total of 12 flavors combined. 12 total flavors combined.
Righteous Felon has taken the meat snack process up a notch by offering craft beef jerky and biltong from pasture-raised beef that raises the bar on flavor. Righteous Felon creates high-quality jerky and biltong perfect for everyday snacking but elevated enough in flavor and texture to adorn the most fanciful charcuterie board. Whether you’ve had these dried beef snacks or are trying them for the first time, tasting well-crafted jerky and biltong is an experience you won’t soon forget.