cheddar rubber: from $7.5/kg
the absolutely cheapest camembert: $21/kg
blade or rump steak: about $8.5/kg
whole rump: about $7/kg

As you can see QLD is a good place for carnivores and a bad place for cheesivores (or at least not for people on a reasonable budget). Fortunately I like meat, and so does Conny - if it comes in the right form. This is about one such form: dried meat goodness.

A while ago Rob introduced us to Biltong, South-African-style cured/dried meat similar to beef jerky. And as a Christmas gift, he made me a biltong box for drying my own. Rob being Rob, he built it in industrial size - way too big for my place. So I spent an afternoon reducing it in size and finishing it up with my usual touches of obsessive perfectionism.

 biltongbox inside biltongbox hinge details biltongbox door closures biltongbox chimney biltongbox chimney biltongbox finished

It's quite a simple thing to build: a sturdy box, air intake holes at the bottom (flyscreened), a 100W bulb with a drip shield (from aluminium flashing) and an exhaust fan on top (a normal bathroom fan, again flyscreened). To make the box weatherproof (it's stored and used outside in a semi-exposed place) I made a chimney from some more aluminium flashing that covers the exhaust fan installation. And having finished the box of course we had to test it straight away. Making biltong is trivially simple and works quite well even in this high-humidity place. There's gazillions of recipes out there on the intertubes, the one I started out with is called "versatile biltong". Basically one needs to cure the meat with vinegar, then salt and season it and let that draw/cure some more, and then dry it (that's what the box is for). The first run we conducted in the laundry, and with 1.1kg of rump steak cut into fairly narrow strips it took less than 24 hours until it was done and ready.

 az preparing biltong az preparing biltong biltongmaker roaring drying meat finished biltong

Since then we've moved the box outside to my corner work bench where it's currently drying the fourth batch in ten days - we really really love that kind of meat!

 biltongbox in action drying goodness
[ published on Thu 15.01.2009 13:46 | filed in interests/au | ]
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© Alexander Zangerl