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Choose your cut of meat. The bet­ter the qual­ity of meat, the bet­ter the fi­nal taste and prod­uct. The best cuts to use when mak­ing bil­tong are sil­ver­side and top­side, but you can use any, re­ally. Try to avoid overly fatty cuts, as they take longer to dry. I used about 2kg of sil­ver­side steak. The slices of meat should be about 2cm thick and about 30cm long. You need to cure the meat. This is to pre­vent de­cay and it acts as a re­pel­lent for the flies. It adds a lit­tle bit of flavour too. Pour about a cup of vine­gar over the meat. I used white spirit vine­gar. Ap­ple cider vine­gar and white wine vine­gar also work fine. Try to avoid us­ing red or black vine­gars though – they change the colour of the meat and mask how “done” the meat is dur­ing dry­ing. Lift the meat out of the vine­gar and give it a lit­tle shake. Try to drip as much of the vine­gar off the meat as you can. Place the meat in a con­tainer large enough for it to lie flat length­ways. Wipe as much mois­ture off the meat as pos­si­ble. Re­mem­ber, you want to avoid fungi at­tack­ing your meat, so use a clean and dry cloth. I used a brand-new ab­sorbent dis­pos­able cloth. The key to re­ally good bil­tong is in the choice of spices you use. Here is my spice­and-herb blend recipe: 1. Two tea­spoons toasted and crushed co­rian­der seeds 2. One tea­spoon black pep­per­corns 3. One tea­spoon cumin 4. One tea­spoon qual­ity smoked pa­prika 5. One tea­spoon dried rose­mary 6. One tea­spoon dried thyme 7. One tea­spoon dried mar­jo­ram 8. One tea­spoon dried sage 9. Two tea­spoons dried gar­lic flakes 10. Two tea­spoons dried onion flakes Sprin­kle the spice mix over the meat, mak­ing sure to cover as much of the meat as pos­si­ble. The next step is to add the salt. I used Kala­hari desert salt; it’s less harsh than stan­dard salt. Try to avoid us­ing ta­ble salt – rather go for sea salt or rock salts. I added about a hand­ful of salt to the meat. Once all your meat is cov­ered, cover the dish and place the meat in the fridge for three hours. This is to help the spices and herbs to in­fuse into the meat, and it also al­lows it a chance to rest and ab­sorb the flavours from the herbs and salt. Don’t rush this stage. You’ll have bland and taste­less bil­tong if you do. This is where you can choose how to dry your meat. I used the de­hy­dra­tor, but you can dry it us­ing whichever tech­nique you think will work best. Hook the meat from its thinnest side. Hang the strips up, but not too closely to­gether. There should be enough of a gap be­tween the meat to al­low for air­flow cir­cu­la­tion and dry­ing that’s evenly spread. It took about two and half days to dry my meat prop­erly. Fi­nally, you get to the best part of the whole process: the tast­ing! I sliced the bil­tong into 1cm-thick slices, but if you have sharp knives or a bil­tong cut­ter, you can cut the meat thin­ner, es­pe­cially if you’d like to use it in sal­ads. I pre­fer my bil­tong moist. Dry it for longer if you’d like it drier. Over time, you’ll fig­ure out ex­actly what works best to give you the dried flesh you de­sire. For more recipes, tips and tricks, check out Se­menya’s blog at


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