How to Store Biltong at Home

Biltong is a perishable product which means it requires correct handling procedures to prevent it from going off and becoming mouldy.

Longer Storage Periods

The best way to store biltong for long periods is to pack it in modified atmosphere package and then store at low temperatures. This can either be done using a plain vacuum bag or a gas flush bag/container.

  • Normal vacuum pack shrinks the biltong slices together and one may have a lump of biltong sticking to each other when using this method, especially on wetter pieces. The vacuum removes oxygen and therefore extends the shelf life of the biltong product.
  • Gas flush packages is a involves first vacuuming the pack (taking out all air and oxygen) and then flushing the bag or pack with a CO2 and nitrogen mixture so that pieces are still loose. This results in pieces being loose in the pack but also making sure that no oxygen is in the pack.

We recommend storing biltong in a very dry environment like a freezer. The most important part to remember is to store biltong in an airtight container when freezing. Moisture naturally goes to the coldest point in a room or area and a freezer will quickly extract all moisture (and taste!) left in your biltong if given the opportunity. Storing your biltong in a container that is not air tight will result in the biltong drying out, similar to meat getting ‘freezer burns’ because of the exposure to the conditions within the freezer.

Biltong should not be stored for long periods – it is there to be enjoyed and not packed away!

If you need to store it, ensure the conditions and package method of the biltong is robust. The main aspect to remember is that the condition and packaging when stored determines the outcome/result of how long it can be stored and what quality will remain over time. Meat attracts flavours in the air so if there is open fish or “strong odour” items in the freezer with the biltong, you can be sure your biltong will take on some of these flavours over time.

summary of guidelines

  1. Keep freshly sliced in a brown paper bag. Consume immediately or at least within 2 days in dry cool conditions. Remember to shuffle the bag frequently so the biltong can breathe.
  2. Do not keep whole pieces in fridge for longer than 3 days as it can start to grow mould (like cheese) if too wet or conditions in the fridge are not correct. Rather hang whole pieces and keep it ventilated.
  3. MAP vacuum pack is the ideal storage method for biltong products but it is also the most expensive. It keeps your product in almost the same condition as when first packed and keeps the flavour inside. If you can, gas flush your products and store in a fridge below 5 degrees for a period of 6 months at most. Ensure your product is not too wet as moisture will increase the risk of spoilage and mould even in such a controlled environment.
  4. If you must freeze biltong, it will last for up to 12 months but remember the container or packaging is key. Vacuum packs can help here but ensure the bag is not popped or “blown”.
  5. Remember the warmer the storage conditions, the shorter the shelf life will be. Also the higher the humidity, the higher the risk of spoilage and mould.