In 1836 the pioneers embarked on the famous Great Trek to avoid the British They crossed mountains, then desert, before finally settling in the Transvaal where they discovered gold. Along the way they sustained themselves by killing wild animals, eating as much of the fresh meat as they could, and then curing the remainder using salt and spices.
The dried meat, known as Biltong, was light to carry and rich in proteinand could he reconstituted in stews. Today it is more often eaten as a snack by South Africans in the same way other nationalities might eat sweets. Take the M23 South from London and head towards Newhaven (near Brighton). Here YOU will find a, 33 year old South African man who came to England with his parents eighteen years ago.
Larry .Susman, the man who had to convince the UK health authorities that hanging meat up to dry is not a barbaric health hazard. but rather an art known as Biltong making. It is more closely associated with the nation than say. France and snails, or America and Hamburgers. Biltong is making steady progress into the British larder. Good Housekeeping magazine recently recommended it as an alternative to crisps.
Mr Susman began making Biltong as a London student in the late seventies. Using a 150 year old family recipe where possible and with a £12 make shift production line. comprising of a drying box of cardboard and light-bulbs.
For years it remained a kitchen table operation supplying friends and made in small batches.
Susmans Best Beef Biltong Company has been making Biltong full time for over seventeen years in the UK. In 1986 the company moved into a 2OOsq ft premises in the Sussex village of South Heighton and six months ago the company moved once again into its current 4000sq ft factory in Avis Way. Newhaven. They have been growing by about 50 per cent each year for the last five or six years.
Each week Larry. his English wife and the four part-time staff process on average 2000lbs of Scottish Beef in order to make the Biltong.
Raw meat, usually beef but also venison, ostrich and any other wild animal is the basis of biltong. Traditionally cut from the hind leg or shoulder, the flesh is marinated in salt and spices (especially coriander) for 24 hours then dried for up to a fortnight. In Africa the process is traditionally done outdoors in the sun to ensure the unique taste and keeps indefinitely as long as it is exposed to the air.
90 per cent of sales are to expatriates of whom there are sonic 8000 mail order customers. the remaining 10 per cent is supplied to the South African Embassy. Harrods. Seifridges and 150 smaller retailers and de1icateessen's.
Susmans Newhaven made variety has been used on many arduous expeditions including the British expedition that conquered K2 and the British Indian Police Himalayan expedition in 1986.
The Susmans Best Beef Biltong Company shop is also packed with South Africas top 100 favourite foods from Mrs Balls Chutney. Ouma Rusks and Tennis Biscuits to Meehos and Peri-Peri Oil. Should your favourite food not be stocked then Larry Susman can order it and will ship it into England with the next consignment of food. If you are within Central London Susmans Best Beef Biltong Company will deliver at no extra cost.