For every Saffa in London, the one thing you miss from back home is biltong… Now if you live in Wimbledon you can just about get it on every street corner, but for a price that is… but did you know, you can build a decent quality wooden biltong making machine for less than twenty bucks? not to mention actually making the biltong itself is alot easier than you think, trust me, I know…
Building a biltong box is actually quite simple, there are websites selling small professionally made plastic boxes, but to be quite honest, it only looks nice but still does the same job, but worst of all, they are charging people £150 for them which is a bit ridiculous. All you basically need is a box with two sections, one section at the bottom to house the light and the main section on top where the meat will dry to make biltong.
The diagram below will give you the basic idea…
Now you can use cardboard however I wouldn't recommend it if you want to keep making biltong, and trust me, after your first batch, you're more than hooked, so rather take the time to build a sturdy wooden box that you can clean and it will last a long time.
The most important thing about this whole venture is to have a place to hang your biltong and then move dry air through it. The moving air dries the biltong!
The diagram shows a box with a divider that divides the box into two sections, A & B. Section A is high enough for a 100 Watt (or 60W) bulb to fit into. Section B is where you will hang the meat. Near the top of section B are wooden or steel rods (marked C) from where you will hang your meat.
There are holes (½-1 inch diameter) drilled along the sides of section A, in the divider, and in the roof of the box.
How It Works
The bulb heats the air in section A. As we all know from school, warm air rises. The air rises through the holes in the divider, through section B, and out the top. The air in section A that has risen out the top, is replaced by air being sucked in through the holes in the sides of section A. The blue arrows show the air flow.
How To Make It
Now you can build the whole damn thing from scratch like a lot of people have done, or you can get a bit clever and make life a lot easier for yourself. I went over to B&Q and found a bedside cupboard that was on special for £11. It was a decent standard size and the nice thing about it was that it had a smooth beech effect, which at the end of the day is going to be alot easier to clean after each batch, than trying to clean bare wood that has soaked up alot of the juices that drip off the meat, so already its a good idea. The "cupboard" came flatpacked but only took about 10mins to assemble as you get all the screws etc to put it together, and just for the dolls, there's a nice little instruction sheet. Obviously I didn't build it with the draw at the top because that wouldn't be needed. The cupboard had an open front so all I did was cut a piece of wood (MDF) to size and fixed it to the front with a couple hinges to make the door. Next I drilled holes between the two compartments to let the airflow through and then holes at the top for the warm air to escape. I made some smaller holes near the top and slid some rods through to be used as hanging racks to hang the biltong from. In the bottom compartment I fitted two light fittings and kitted them with two 40W globes. Many people say you should use one 60W globe and many others so you should use one 100W globes, so I went in between with 2 x 40W. I used the bottom open back as the intake but closed this about half way with a small piece of plank so that the warm air would flow into the main compartment and not escape out the back…. and Voila! the whole thing took about an hour and a half to build and works like a bomb. There's a few little additions you can make such as sealing the holes off with some fine mesh to stop any bugs crawling in and chowing your biltong etc. I've done a few batches now and its taking me around 2-3 days per batch which is wicked.
Check out huge PharSide Fan, Ronan, he used this same technique to build his biltong box and he's "loving" it
He made a video for it
See guys, you don't need to be a farm boy to make it, people from the village can make it too haha
This is the party thats going on in my biltong box at this very moment…
Thats 2.4kgs raw, will be about 1.5kgs dry, perfect for a personal stash … oh yeah baby!
Check back next week and I may have a special guest showing you exactly how to make the biltong itself… so get cracking on your boxes my chinas