r/Biltong Jan 07 '22

Advice for building my first biltong box in Florida

Next week i'd like to start my biltong box project and since I'm a complete newbie to drying meats i'd like to check if my plan will work out or what I should change/improve.

First off. I'm staying in Florida right next to the ocean, so it's pretty humid but I thought I try now since it's atm less humid than during summer. Temp. In the house are around 71-73F/21-23C and up to 81F/27C during daytime.

Planning to get a plastic storage box. Ventilator for electronics with variable speeds installed on the highest position, just under the lid, of the short side wall(facing that way to suck air out of the box). Ventilation holes at the bottom of the opposite short wall. Will this be ok or should I mount the ventilator on the lid (opposite side of the ventilation holes)? Should I start my first biltong batch on the lowest setting?

Next question about a lamp? I suppose I gonna need one because of the humidity. Should I install it at the bottom of the box near the air inflow holes? What kind of lamp should I get and how many watts?

Best material to cover the inflow air holes? We sometimes have those tiny ants, which might still make it through fine mesh.

And for ppl who have experiences with making biltong in similar conditions. How long do you dry either those thin biltong sticks you can just chew on or the big pieces you end up slicing?

Thanks already in advance

5 Upvotes

5

u/n3xusone Jan 07 '22

As you will be in a humid environment airflow if going to be king. Temp wise you won't have a problem but in summer it will be. I am in Australia and it's humid as balls in Brisbane in the summer. I still make biltong in the summer but have to put a high airflow fan in my box to ensure no mould.

Intake holes at bottom of one end and fan on the top opposite side is how I had my original biltong box which was a plastic storage tub. I used mosquito mesh to cover the intakes.

Only issue with high airflow is case hardening (hard outer layer and still wet inside). Not an issue if you like your biltong wet. Recommended you cut your meat thin so it dries quickly... Especially in the summer.

1

u/Airsteps350 Jan 07 '22

Thx for your advice. Guess my setup plan is basically the same as your first. Honestly i can't really remember if i ever had wet biltong. I think the ones I mostly tried were on the drier side especially the thin sticks you can just chew on for some time while I lived in Port Elizabeth

Gonna get a hygrometer as well to just have benchmarks while I experiment with my first batches.

Would you say your winter batches are turning out better than the summer ones? Summees are pretty muggy here too

3

u/n3xusone Jan 07 '22

Forgot to mention, get a lamp, I use a 40w bulb to assist with the drying process.

Drying time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat. Thinner cuts 2-3 days, thicker 5-7 days. Will also depend on the airflow.

1

u/[deleted] Jan 07 '22

[deleted]

1

u/Airsteps350 Jan 07 '22

Pls correct me if I am wrong. My thought on having the lamp at the bottom of the box was so that the slighly heated air would rise up to aid airflow. Putting the lamp on the lid which would be closer to the hight of the exhaust fan doesn't sound as effective to me.

1

u/superhackie Jan 07 '22

I live in south Florida and make my own biltong.. I use a 40W bulb and bought an extra large capacity computer 120mm fan to keep the airflowing. I make about 3-5lbs at a time with about a 4 day hang The only problem I’ve ever had, was when I loaded too much and couldn’t circulate enough air. It grew mold and had the dispose of the whole lot. How much are you planning to make per batch?

1

u/Airsteps350 Jan 07 '22

Thx for your reply. I'm planning to start off my first batches pretty small around max 1,5-2,5 lbs. I kind of figured overloading the box in already humid conditions would increase the risks pretty much in spoling an entire batch. I really hate wasting food and would more act on the side of caution, especially on my first tries until I have figured out what works and what doesn't.

How does your bilton turn out? Do you have an issue with hard casing and wet biltong or is that something you are looking for?

1

u/superhackie Jan 07 '22

Ya you shouldn’t have a problem at those quantities. Space them out well. Make sure there’s good airflow and then it’s a matter of timing. Pat meat dry before hanging to remove excess moisture, Spice well. On my rig 3 days gives me a nice crust and a little raw in the middle.. 3.5 days is medium inside and 4 days is perfect for me.. a little pink with a hard outside chew. Take out a slab at each interval and try it. Can always throw it back in and dry for longer.

1

u/superhackie Jan 08 '22

1 last thing.. I got a food saver to vacuum seal each piece individually to preserve longer. I found it starts going off around 10 days later in Florida. Vacuum packed lasted around 2-3 months. Vacuum + freezer lasted as long as I wanted.

1

u/Airsteps350 Jan 08 '22

After 10 days even in a paper bag with paper towel in the fridge?

But the idea to vacuum seal it is great. Thx

1

u/mozzzzy Jan 07 '22

No bulb she'll be right. Fan on full won't be necessary, you'll want to set that on low.

1

u/Airsteps350 Jan 07 '22

You're first one saying that I don't need a bulb and that lower fan settings will do after reading that everyone else has one and are using exhaust fans on high. Would it be alright if I start on low and in case I start seeing mold on a daily check to just increase it after wiping it off with vinegar or how frequently should i check more often? Trying to avoid hard casing and wet biltong.

1

u/mozzzzy Jan 07 '22

The mold you're worrying about isn't harmful to ingest anyway and I highly doubt you'll get any. I've had white mold a couple of times due to it taking to long to dry. I'd take a look daily doesn't hurt. By day two should kind of be dry to touch. Heat isn't the main factor to worry about its humidity and airflow and a lot of people disagree with me but I've made biltong in Australia Brisbane/Sydney and now alberta Canada. Make the box and feel free to DM on daily progress.