Monday, September 13, 2010

homemade biltong dryer AKA the meat wardrobe

Biltong is a cured, air-dried meat. Some people dry it outdoors for a little extra tree and insect flavor, some hang it in a closet for a hint of cedar and lint, and some use a low oven and live without baked potatoes for a whole week. An artificial heat source is optional, although temperature and humidity obviously have a large effect on the drying time.

For my first attempt last year I wanted a somewhat controlled and sanitary environment for drying the biltong, as well as one that wouldn't conflict with other household activities. I ruled out the garage, oven, and my sock drawer and figured I'd build something.

My thoughts quickly turned to the wardrobe moving boxes we purchased several years ago. They were so expensive that I just couldn't bear to throw them out. They have over 10 cubic feet of volume, a shirt and meat hanging rod, several cutouts for carrying and venting, and a convenient access panel. I also had a small thermostatically controlled forced air heater with a safety shutoff. Perfect!

I cut a piece of scrap plexiglas, probably left over from the construction of some reptile enclosure, for a viewing window.

This spare oven thermometer goes down to 100 degrees F, which seems fine for the low end. The heater, pretty close to its lowest power and thermostat settings, holds the temperature just fine at 100 to 120 degrees.

I lined the bottom of the box with aluminum foil for sanitation. At least initially the meat does drip a bit. Here's my five pound first batch hanging.

And here it is all done.

One reasonable modification would be to raise the height of the bar. There's plenty of room to go up with it, and very long cuts of meat might hang low enough to be undesirably close to the heater.

Overall it ends up being a convenient and multitasking tool. The box breaks down for flat storage, and the heater keeps the garage smelling meaty fresh when I'm out there in cold weather.

1 comment:

Ny Biltong said...

Biltong has many advantages because it can perk up the taste of the food and it can help us to become healthy. biltong is being sold in the US and you can buy one at New York Biltong online. Your cravings for a South African meal can be found here. They have biltong in different sizes to fit your needs like chips, chunks, slabs and slices and also droewors. You can choose from the traditional biltong or spicy biltong for your recipe. To make your food tastier, then, you can choose to add a spicy garlic flavor biltong.