Here at Ember, we're not all about biltong. Yes, we might bring it up a lot (because it's utterly delicious) but we thought it was about time to shine some light on biltong's lesser known cousin - Droëwors.
All of the above, actually. All three names can be used to identify Droewors which in Afrikaans literally means “dry sausage”.
Droe - dry
Wors - sausage
It's a delicious traditional South African meat snack that dates back a few hundred years. It is traditionally prepared by using beef and flavoured with South African spices like coriander and then air dried to perfection thanks to the warm South African climate.
Just like Biltong, Droewors first came about during the Great Trek back in the 19th century. The migrating Dutch settlers needed a stock of durable food that they can transport and easily make with the little resources they had through their long journey. Obviously, there was no way to refrigerate food back in those days so they started curing their meats to preserve them and prolong their shelf-life. The handy sticks of dried sausage were the perfect solution to their food problem and they also made for a great snack to take along on hunting expeditions, so that hunters could keep their strength up without carrying heavy foods. Some food historians say that the recipes had come from North or South America, from either Native American tribes or ancient Incas but the Dutch settlers were the first recorded to have made the tasty snacks we know today.
Droewors is also based on the coriander spiced boerewors sausage which is a popular type of sausage in South Africa. Both sausages are very similar in terms of flavour and ingredients, although there are some main differences:
Boerewors, although mainly made of beef, is also made with pork fat which isn't suitable for droëwors
Boerewors are way thicker and needs to be refrigerated and cooked to be enjoyed
It is typically grilled over charcoal or even oven roasted and pan fried. While Droewors on the other hand, can be enjoyed right after curing and don't need to be refrigerated. They won't last long anyway because they are so good you won't be able to resist one after the other.
Droewors have definitely evolved since the days of the Great Trek with the use of different spices and new techniques in the curing process. It has gained a worldwide following and it is widely available across Europe, South Africa, and Australia from various producers that have given it their own spin and flavour but there's no doubt when talking about South African food, traditional droëwors is definitely one of the top of mind.
Although droewors and biltong share common roots and ingredients, being made by the same group of people at the same time and made with the same meats and spices, there is one obvious difference between them.
Droewors are thin round sausages while biltong is usually cut into thin slices from slabs of beef. Droewors are particularly made into thin sticks as it dries a lot quicker in warm and dry conditions compared to biltong. It also has a distinct snap to it when bent showing its unique texture that's absolutely perfect for snacking during outdoor activities and for those on high-protein diets, and for those who simply love the taste.
Droewors can be made with a variety of meats like venison, lamb, and even ostrich. But it is traditionally made with minced beef and aromatics like coriander, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and really good brown vinegar, and of course salt. It is sometimes flavoured with garlic or chili peppers too.
All of the ingredients are mixed and stuffed in either a sheep or collagen casing to make the thin sausages. It’s then hung in a warm, dry place to be air dried for over a week - the wait is well worth it though because it is what gives it that tender bite apart from using really good meat.
Droewors are available in thick and thin varieties but the thinner sausage is most commonly preferred by consumers and producers alike. For the producers, it is mainly because thinner sausage will dry quicker and are less likely to develop mold while the thicker sausage will take longer to cure and dry, which can also raise their prices. As for consumers, it's because the thinner sausage is simply easier to carry around and have on the go as a tasty snack.
We believe grass-fed beef is best and we gave ours an Ember twist by using British and Irish beef for that distinct meaty flavour you can only get from cows reared in British and Irish soil.
Our droewors are seasoned with coriander, cloves and black pepper but the addition of malt vinegar is what really helps amp up the flavour. And there’s very little sugar in there as well - only 0.7g per 100g while giving you 41g of protein.
Our droewors are made by adding British and Irish beef in a big mixer with a delicious mix of spices and spirit vinegar which then minces and mixes the product to make sure that flavour is spread evenly throughout the meat. The delicious minced meat is then stuffed into an edible natural collagen casing and then hung on racks to air dry for 8 days.
So there you have it. Now you know the lowdown on Droewors and how we make ours. This tasty, high protein snack will surely satisfy those savoury cravings in the most protein packed way. Go on, grab a bag of our Beef Sticks and find out yourself!