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Beef Biltong launched by Northern Irish artisan business

Authentic beef biltong has been launched in Northern Ireland by an artisan business which has its roots in South Africa.

Based in Belfast, Ke Nako (meaning ‘it’s time’ in Afrikaans) Biltong has been established by partners Ilse van Staden, a qualified chef from Pretoria in South Africa, and Alanagh Chipperfield, a lecturer in animal biology at Belfast Metropolitan College, Northern Ireland’s largest further education college.

Together they have created a unique biltong snack using organic beef cured in organic red wine vinegar with a blend of spices from salt, black pepper, coriander seeds, nutmeg and cloves before being air–dried.

The biltong is now being marketed to delis and farm shops in Northern Ireland and on line. The small business has also developed other traditional South African cured products including Droewors sausages.

They have been test marketing the hand cured meats and raising awareness at markets in Northern Ireland successfully and are also keen to explore business opportunities outside the region for their products.

The partners met during a women’s rugby tour of South Africa in 2011 – Alanagh has represented Ulster and Ilse plays for Ireland. Both now play for one of the leading women’s rugby clubs in Belfast.

The idea for the biltong business in Northern Ireland came from Ilse who saw a gap in the developing market for traditional cured meats she grew up enjoying at home in South Africa.

Biltong has long been popular in South Africa because it’s rich in protein and especially popular with rugby players and other sports people as an aid to recovery after training and games,” she says. 

This is because it’s an excellent source of vital minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium and vitamin B–12; all essential for the body to function.” Biltong is also wheat and gluten free.

Biltong, in addition, is made from twice the finished weight of meat and so is a super concentrated source of nutrients. 

Beef biltong has 57.2g of natural protein in every 100g. And since biltong is cured and not cooked, it retains more of the nutrients than cooked meat as the cooking process can break some of these down,” she adds.

Ke Nako uses quality organic beef such as brisket from Ballylagan Organic Farm near Straid Village in county Antrim, a farm run by Trevor and Patricia Gilbert which has been Soil Association certified since 1992. Ilse undertakes the butchery on the farm where the meat is cured and air–dried.

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Drew McIvor
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