Kosher Biltong Explained

Kosher biltong and other kosher varieties such as Kosher chili bites and Kosher droewors. Why is it harder to find than it's non-kosher counterpart, and why is it generally more expensive? Today we're going to go into some of the challenges that come up when making Kosher biltong and hopefully answer those questions satisfactorily. Most of these will apply whether you're making it at home with a special secret recipe, or you're producing to sell as Kosher certified. Some only apply to the latter.

First and foremost, the meat. When it comes to Kosher biltong, Kosher meat must be used! Although biltong today is made with almost any animal meat, as well as fish and vegan versions, if you want authentic biltong and Kosher, it's pretty much Kosher beef. Of the animal meats that can be Kosher, chicken is more challenging with salmonella being easy to come by in the process, as well as not an authentic taste; lamb being too fatty and too expensive; bison not available much and therefore not very practical; veal too expensive; and perhaps turkey is an option but carries some of what mentioned above re chicken, and far from an authentic taste. This leaves us with what is anyways the best option for authentic biltong, beef. And in our case, Kosher beef.

Kosher beef is not cheap. For various reasons that we won't get into here, Kosher Meat generally costs one and a half to two times that of non-kosher, depending how far one lives from Kosher factories and distributors. Although Kosher Meat availability and distribution is available today with more and more ease, it still is not able to match the availability and and price of non-kosher, both in wholesale and retail. Even with a large selection of Kosher Meat certifying agencies, generally known as "shchitah", its still ideally best to use one that holds of a general high standard, and to stay with that one shchitah, consistently.

Besides for Kosher Meat being an obvious must, let's not forget all the other ingredients that must be kosher. That includes all liquid sauces, dry spice mixes, and even fresh vegetables that may need to be checked for insects. Usually these don't pose much of a challenge with kosher availability in abundance in the USA today, an issue does arise with Worcestershire sauce. A common ingredient that contributes a unique flavor and authenticity, it can pose an issue due to original worcestershire sauce includes anchovies. So what's the problem? Well everyone knows Kosher includes not mixing meat and milk, a not so commonly known Kosher restriction is not mixing meat and fish. The origin here is from the Talmud that discusses physical health risks and other harmful side effects from eating them together. Code of Jewish Law rules that we don't cook them together at all. The extent of this rule varies somewhat from community to community, from those who simply don't cook pieces of meat with pieces of fish together but may  consume together, to the stricter side where the separation includes not even having them on the table at the same time. Some would argue here that there is no pieces of fish, and the actual percentage of fish is so minute. Zbiltong's standard that is held by the Kosher certifying agencies, is not to use worcestershire sauce that has any trace of anchovies whatsoever, even the tiniest amount, and rather opt for the vegan alternative that is anchovy-less.

Lastly, but not leastly, Torah Law requires Kosher Meat to have a 'Siman'. By looking at a piece meat on its own, whether cooked or raw, it is impossible to ascertain the origin of the meat, and therefore cannot be confirmed with confidence that it is indeed kosher Meat or not. Therefore, included in kosher dietary laws is the requirement that Kosher Meat is to have recognizable signs, known as 'simanim', to confirm it is indeed kosher Meat. At any time during a preparation process when the meat will be open and therefore 'siman'less, a kosher supervisor known as a Mashgiach must be present, and once ready and necessary again, the Mashgiach will make sure to put a new siman on, commonly being a sticker, signature, special covering or stamp.

This is not unique to biltong and applies to any meat establishment of any kind, whether raw such as in a butchery, or cooked such as a restaurant. The added challenge of biltong is the process which takes days, not hours. The above requirements are still in place at all times, which means solutions are implemented that at all times of the process, the biltong will never be left unattended or accessible to anyone, without a mashgiach present.

We hope this answers your Kosher questions when it comes to biltong, and how Zbiltong continues to maintain a high level of Kashrut. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact us at

Enjoy your Kosher biltong!

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