Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Make you own food dehydrator and biltong!

I was browsing ikeahacker (http://ikeahacker.blogspot.com) when I came across a post about making your own biltong.

wait. ikea hacker? yup, it's a site where folks submit their ikea hacks, basically hacking their ikea furniture to something else! the site is run by jules, a Malaysian who was once interviewed on bfm. way to go girl!

biltong? it's like beef jerky but thicker and supposedly tastes better. a favourite among South Africans and carnivores.

and biltong is made simply by drying marinated meat. well, wanted to make some treats for tonto and this is just the ticker! meat snack treats are very expensive, around rm20 for a 150g pack. so why not make your own?

first you need to make a biltong box. various schemes are available on the net and I hacked my own version using some thrown away planks I found in the neighbourhood during my daily walks with tonto.

built a very crude looking box, held together via furniture bracket and screws, the construction shouldn't take more than an hour, using only hand tools. chopsticks are placed at the top to hold good old paper clips (use the bigger sized ones) which hangs the meat strips.

near the base of the box, fit a light bulb socket (I use E27 type here) and the necessary wiring to light it up. I considered a dimmer as well as a timer but opted out for a "very quick" hack.

the biggest trouble I had was sourcing for a thermometer. dang! the easily available ones are all body thermometers, good to only 42c but we need good heat in the range of 60 to 70c. I finally found a few good ones at an instrument specialist store for rm75. I later found i could get the same thing from another store for half the price! @#%#!!

anyway using a 60w light bulb, I could only get around 50c so this isn't sufficient. a 100w bulb is perfect as I got 60 to 70c with it. now don't use energy saving bulbs here as we want the heat here. you can put on your green cap later.

last item to get is beef. bought half kg of Indian beef sliced thinly of course. you know our Hindu brothers don't consume beef hence cows live to an old age in India. the old cows are then slaughtered and the frozen meat imported here. these are about half the price of local beef. now you understand why your local nasi kandar stall sells beef curry cheaper than chicken curry?

as this experimental jerky is meant for tonto, we forego marinating the meat and only washed it with a little vinegar. the vinegar will darken the meat as well as soften the sinews inside. you need to soak in vinegar for a few hours as this is an old cow!

and about 8 hours later... we have jerky!

tonto absolutely loves it! the aroma got him running around in circles. he followed me wherever I went, well until I put the jerky away.

the pictures explain the rest.


  1. This is very cool....not that Margaret eats beef jerky. And I don't foresee myself drying sardines for her either. Something in fresh fish makes cat poop more stinky than stinky. But good idea. Can you use this device for anything else besides making food for tonto? Is he really called tonto? Oh yeah, I have 2 of your CDs with me. Took them back from Lisa the last time I saw her. When you are up in Penang, let me know. Must return the CDs to you. Paiseh, paiseh.

  2. We made beef jerky for our own consumption, marinated with five spice powder, salt and pepper. You could also dehydrate sweet potatoes or guavas for healthy snacks.

    Yeah, tonto is his name. You should meet him.

    Oh yeah! The cds... no plans to come down KL?

  3. Try to precisely dry out sustenance and give them an opportunity to chill off at room temperature preceding putting them inside a compartment which has a water/air proof seal.06300 dehydro review