Six Differences Between Biltong and Jerky
If you’re a lover of jerky, chances are that you’ve heard of or enjoyed biltong. Jerky and biltong share a few similar qualities, but they differ significantly. Jerky and biltong are like cousins—they’re both dried meat snacks that contain plenty of minerals and vitamins. They’re also easy to eat on the go, and they make for the perfect infusion of protein.
However, not much is similar between the two past those factors. Various aspects such as preparation, flavor, texture, and variety make these two meats unique in their own ways. For your convenience, here are the six differences between biltong and jerky.
What Is Biltong?
As you probably know, jerky is sliced meat that’s marinated in various spices and then cooked with heat. It’s dry and chewy in the best ways possible. Biltong, on the other hand, is shredded meat that’s cured in vinegar and air dried, making it softer and saltier. It’s actually quite different in appearance from jerky, too, so many people can easily identify the distinct visual features of each meat. Biltong takes more time to prepare, making jerky a tad more popular for meat-loving cooks.
Ingredients and Preservation Process
Both jerky and biltong are preserved meats, which means they both go through a preservation process. This process is what allows them both to last a long time. Although both types of meat use salt, pepper, and other spices to maintain a dried consistency and texture, jerky’s preservation occurs through cooking and heat. However, biltong uses a “no-heat” method (more on that later), relying instead on the preservation powers of vinegar and spices. Biltong is placed in a bath of these ingredients to prepare for a lengthy drying period before it’s cut.
As we stated earlier, the cooking methods used for jerky and biltong are very different, and those processes affect taste and texture. Jerky is cooked low and slow for hours, which thoroughly cooks the meat and dehydrates it. Biltong is cooked with a “no-heat” style. After the preservation process, the meat strands are hung and dried for nearly two weeks. Amazingly, this cooking method doesn’t promote bacteria growth, and the meat isn’t raw. Some packaging may say the product is indeed raw, but rest assured that adequately prepared biltong is entirely safe for consumption.
Your preference for jerky or biltong will depend on your favorite flavor profiles. Do you like smoky meats that retain their flavor even when dried? Are you a fan of vinegar and hints of zest in your meat? Do you prefer sweet or savory flavors?
For more traditional meat-lovers, jerky offers that smoky taste with slight hints of sweetness and gaminess. Biltong is far more savory, with a heavy vinegar profile. Sometimes the salty nature of biltong can overpower the natural profile of the meat. However, both meats are flavorful and pack a tasty punch with the right spices. Ultimately, it’s up to what flavors you look for in your meat snacks.
Of the six differences between biltong and jerky, the texture is the most apparent. Anybody who’s ever had jerky and biltong knows that the textures of the two aren’t very similar. Put simply, biltong is a soft meat with “fluffy” qualities. Some people describe the texture as “airy.” On the other hand, the texture of jerky is much more chewy, like a steak. Unlike biltong, it’s also quite dry on the surface.
Additionally, biltong is typically served in smaller shreds, making the eating experience different from that of jerky. However, this aspect is one of the main draws for this particular snack.
In theory, you can make biltong and jerky from a plethora of different meats. However, most biltong is prepared with beef, whereas today’s jerky products often come from more exotic cuts. The preparation process for jerky translates well for various animals, ensuring consistent quality and taste. For instance, our online jerky store features products made from poultry, big game, camels, gators, and even kangaroos! Each cut possesses its own flavor and texture profiles, but the quality is always guaranteed.
Some companies make biltong out of the same exotic animals, but this is quite rare; the most common products are simply beef. There’s nothing wrong with classic beef flavor, but you can’t deny the variety of jerky items.
Jerky and biltong are relatively similar when it comes to the nutritional makeup of each item. For instance, both contain unusually high levels of proteins, omega-3s, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, and other beneficial minerals. In fact, jerky is known as a superfood, and it can relieve stress and other mental health ailments. The key nutritional differences between jerky and biltong are their fat and sodium contents.
Jerky does have more sodium (typically 30 milligrams more than biltong); however, the levels are not detrimental to a balanced diet. Also a healthy choice of meat, biltong does contain a higher amount of fat—about two times more than that of jerky. It’s worth mentioning that biltong usually contains less sugar, but that amount depends on the cooking process, and the difference is mostly negligible.
Which Choice Is Superior?
Obviously, we at Lee’s Market stay loyal to jerky and offer many delicious products to back that opinion. However, there’s no true champion when it comes to jerky versus biltong. Both options feature various aspects that cater to specific preferences, and the best choice is often subjective.
Biltong offers a different eating experience and less sugar compared to jerky. However, there’s significantly more variety in jerky items, and you can’t beat the classic taste and texture. Great spices can spruce up any snack, but the low-and-slow cooking process produces quality meats every single time. For these reasons, jerky offers the most bang for your buck.
If you’re looking for jerky over biltong, consider our wide selection of beef, poultry, big-game, and exotic jerkies. We also feature many variations of these meats that include unique spices and seasonings. We’re not afraid to combine sweet and spicy ingredients to create truly divine cuts of jerky.