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How to store biltong, according to South Africans

South Africa is famed for many things; the Springboks, spitbraais, and of course, the great Nelson Mandela. Yet there are few things more South African than ripping open a brown paper bag and biting down on a thick slice of salty biltong. 

Whether the meticulously cured meat is part of your daily diet or a rare road-trip treat, knowing how to properly store your biltong is key to keeping it fresh and flavourful. From the storage experts and biltong lovers at Stor-Age, here is a comprehensive guide on how to store biltong — the South African way. 

How long can you store biltong for?

In general, open biltong should last for at least 4–6 days. After that, mould could potentially start to grow, especially during wet and rainy periods or if you live in humid coastal areas. 

In a well-ventilated, non-humid environment, biltong sticks or pieces can last for weeks, months, or even years. It all depends on where you’re storing your salty snack! 

Fridge: Refrigeration slows down microbial growth, reducing the risk of mould and the biltong being spoilt. If your biltong has been sealed properly in a vacuum pack, it can last up to a year in a fridge that’s a cool 2–4° C. 

Freezer: Freezing is a highly effective way of preserving many types of foods, including biltong. For long-term biltong storage, the freezer is your best friend. Simply storing your sealed biltong in a freezer can extend its shelf life by more than a year! Just remember to vacuum pack it.

Paper bag: When stored in a paper bag in a cool, dry place, biltong can last anywhere from 4 days to a week. However, always check for any signs of spoilage, like mould or an off smell, before tucking in.

Tupperware: If you store open biltong in a sealed container in the fridge, it can stay fresh for up to a month! For the best results, make sure the biltong is dry and not too moist.

The best way to store biltong for long periods 

The best way to ensure your biltong stays fresh for weeks is to either vacuum seal it (preferred), or store it in the fridge as we’ve already mentioned. If you want to keep biltong over an extended period, put a few pieces into a plastic bag, suck out as much air as possible through a straw (or vacuum pack machine), seal, and freeze.

Read: How to store honey

How to store biltong once opened: a step-by-step guide

1. Avoid direct sunlight and heat

Much like humans on a hot day, biltong can sweat. These hot and moist conditions create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and your biltong to go bad. So if you don’t want your precious biltong crawling with microorganisms, be sure to keep it out of the heat and direct sunlight. 

2. Store in a brown paper bag

When it comes to storing opened biltong, adopting a plastic-free lifestyle is the way to go. A paper bag gives biltong the space to breathe and dry naturally whereas plastic creates a hot, humid environment which can quickly turn your scrumptious snack sour and mouldy. 

3. Seal and shake  

If you have biltong in the house, then you know how difficult it is to resist sneaking a piece or two throughout the day. After digging into your stash, it's important that you seal the bag properly. 

This not only ensures its freshness but also keeps the creepy crawlies from finding their way in and turning your beloved biltong into a bug nursery. If your biltong is wet and thick, be sure to also give it a shake every now and then.

4. Keep in a cool, dry area

Although dried and cured biltong is still fundamentally meat, just like storing your favourite knits and linen, your biltong needs to be kept in a cool, dry place to stay fresh. While some people store their biltong in a pantry cupboard, it can get a bit stuffy in summer which causes mould to grow. During these hotter months, clear a drawer in your fridge and use it to keep your biltong cool.

Burning biltong storage FAQs answered 

Biltong brown paper bag

Where is the best place to store biltong?

To preserve the quality of biltong and prevent mould growth, store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight like your pantry, fridge, or cupboard. After opening the original packaging, place the biltong in an airtight container or, alternatively, a brown paper bag to allow it to breathe and reduce moisture.

Read: How to store chocolate

Can you freeze biltong? 

Yes, you can! If you buy your biltong in bulk and need to store it for the long term, freezing it can keep its freshness. To avoid freezer burns or your meat drying out, vacuum pack it before freezing. This process might change the texture slightly, but it’s the best way to store your biltong over a long period. Remember to write the date of storage on the bag and eat it before one year is up.

Can biltong go bad?

Yes, biltong can go bad. Biltong is a cured meat, and while the curing process extends its shelf life, it doesn't make it immune to mould or harmful bacteria. 

If biltong is exposed to moisture or stored in unsuitable conditions for an extended period, it will eventually spoil. Always store biltong in a cool, dark, and dry place and consume it by the recommended date. 

If it smells off or has an unusual appearance, it's best to throw it out. Remember, mould is usually a sign that there's too much moisture in the bag, so you either need to change your storage method or scoff it down before it turns! 

How do you remove mould from your biltong? 

If white mould occurs, don’t stress! It can be easily removed by wiping it off with a cloth which has been dampened with vinegar. 

At Stor-Age, we are experts at storing things correctly. While we can’t store your beloved biltong, we can help you safekeep everything else! 

Whether you need to store business stock or your whole household, our secure self storage units are the perfect solution. We offer flexible contracts, a variety of unit sizes, packaging, and a van hire service so you can store all your valuables with ease. Contact us at 0861 18 18 18 to find out more or get a quick and easy quote online.

Posted by Stor-Age Self Storage - 18 September 2023 | Tips And Hints