Weekend Warrior - Biltong Dryer

I'm starting a new series here, our first series really. Calling it Weekend Warrior, and as the name suggests its all about weekend projects.

Weekdays get pretty bogged down with "daily grind" stuff here at AWP. Don't get me wrong, our day to day is probably a lot different than yours, unless you spend a lot of time teaching farmers about irrigation. But one thing is the same, let's face it, new and exciting projects get piled up on the weekends. Not that there's anything wrong with the old Mo-Fri; weekends are just so much better.

Each week I'll be picking one "exciting" project off the shelf and we'll get it whipped up over the weekend. Some projects will be of substantial importance to our work here; others may just be of some interest. But the cool thing is, if any of you are do-it-yourself types, readers can contribute to, follow along with, improve, and critique, the weekend projects.

Just to get things started, for this weekend: Biltong Dryer.

Biltong is a South Africa preserved meat similar to beef jerky. The seed for this project was planted by AWP founder John Drake. The CBP agents won't let you bring Biltong into the US, so why not make your own? For Malawi, a combination meat/vegetable/fruit dryer could help preserve food items that might otherwise rot.

The basic build is quite simple: make a box from 1/2 plywood, 3'x2'x2'.

One 3x2' side should be on hinges to provide access.

Install a light socket in the bottom and cover the socket from dripping juices. Use a 40w incandescent bulb or higher in humid conditions.

Drill intake holes on the bottom and exhaust holes on the top, boths sides. Remember hot air rises. Hot air also absorbs moisture from the meat.

Put some wires and hooks at the top to hang meat from. (I've got 8 rows with about 10 hooks per, for 90 pieces of biltong total.)

It takes about 7 days to dry the meat, maybe less in this dry climate. We leave the bulb on 24/7, so there may be a need for mosquito netting on the holes to keep out ngumbe. I'll hang the meat tomorrow. Check in to see how it's doing.

The recipe I plan to try was found here: BiltongBox.com

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