How to store your precious biltong
A common question, especially those new to biltong: How does one properly store biltong? The most common and easiest answer: You don't! It's eaten.
Jokes aside, properly storing your uneaten biltong is important, and can make the difference between having your much looked forward to kosher biltong ready to eat, or opening a bag and being greeted by unappetizing sights or smells.
Biltong is cured, and then air dried. It is not cooked, heated or smoked. This gives it a unique method for removing harmful bacteria and parasites and at the same time giving it longer food preservation which reduces further bacterial contamination down the road.
This also allows it to be stored differently than regularly cooked meat. It can be stored (when done properly) outside of a fridge, without it turning bad or harmful to eat.
But! Biltong can become moldy, and believe it or not, it's a common enough occurrence both in home made biltong boxes as well as more sophisticated machines. This happens when there is moisture in the air but no circulation, either from too much in the box at one time, the biltong is packed too close to each other, or air circulation is poor. However, it can also occur after curing if storage conditions are poor.
Still today in butcheries in South Africa or anywhere that you can purchase fresh biltong directly from the biltong maker, you have the ability to buy it according to weight, and take it home in a brown paper bag. Anywhere outside of these establishments, your biltong will arrive pre-packaged. Either vacuum packed, or sealed with an oxygen absorber inserted with it, or in some cases nitrogen gas is used to replace the oxygen. All are safe options for being able to store your biltong long term. The reason for this is oxygen, the gas in its pure form or when in the air around us, can cause food to oxidize that can that then encourage the growth of microorganisms. Not what we want!
So after all that, lets talk about what you can do with your biltong, and what you can do to prevent any of the above. These suggestions apply to your favorite zbiltong products, but is applicable to any biltong you may have, even your secret home made stash!
Best: Fridge or freezer.
- Any opened biltong
- Biltong slabs (opened or sealed)
- Any biltong that's more wet or has a higher fat content such as droewors / drywors
When your biltong arrives intact, and the bag has not been tampered with, it is shelf stable and can last 3-6 months at least. However its not invincible, and should be kept away from heat, or any warm area. Your pantry closet is fine if your home is always kept cool with ac. But best is the fridge or freezer. If its sealed, it should not effect the flavor much at all.
On the counter: In the bag it came in.
- All sealed/unopened bags
- Opened bags for 2-3 days after
Even after opening, it's highly unlikely for anything to happen just sitting on the counter for a couple days. The counter the shelf, is all the same. But keep in mind the room temperature, that it's cool, and the sun or any other heat are not shining directly on it.
Once opened, after a couple days, best will always be to refer to the previous suggestion, or the next one.
Put into a brown paper bag.
- Any opened biltong
- Any biltong product you are looking to dry out further.
As mentioned above, brown paper bag is often used for packing biltong, due to it giving the biltong inside the ability to breathe. Its drawback is that the paper texture will absorb moisture, and the breathing will continue the drying process. If your biltong is too wet for your liking, this is an excellent option to safely dry it for a little longer.
As always, we would love to hear your suggestions on how you store your biltong, or any tricks we can share with any fellow biltong consumers.
Happy Kosher biltong eating!