Corned beef

Corned beef is a salt-cured beef product. The term comes from the treatment of the meat with large-grained rock salt, also called "corns" of salt. It is featured as an ingredient in many cuisines.

Most recipes include nitrates or nitrites, which convert the natural myoglobin in beef to nitrosomyoglobin, giving a pink color. Nitrates and nitrites reduce the risk of dangerous botulism during curing by inhibiting the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores,[1] but have been shown to be linked to increased cancer risk.[2] Beef cured with salt only has a gray color and is sometimes called "New England corned beef." Sometimes, sugar and spices are also added to corned beef recipes.

It was popular during World War I and World War II, when fresh meat was rationed. It also remains especially popular in Canada in a variety of dishes.

Corned beef
Cooked corned beef
Alternative namesSalt beef, bully beef (if canned)
Main ingredientsBeef, salt


Although the exact beginnings of corned beef are unknown, it most likely came about when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. Evidence of its legacy is apparent in numerous cultures, including ancient Europe and the Middle East.[3] The word corn derives from Old English and is used to describe any small, hard particles or grains.[4] In the case of corned beef, the word may refer to the coarse, granular salts used to cure the beef.[3] The word "corned" may also refer to the corns of potassium nitrate, also known as saltpeter, which were formerly used to preserve the meat.[5][6][7]

19th-century Atlantic trade

Libby McNeill & Libby Corned Beef 1898
Libby, McNeill & Libby Corned Beef, 1898

Although the practice of curing beef was found locally in many cultures, the industrial production of corned beef started in the British Industrial Revolution. Irish corned beef was used and traded extensively from the 17th century to the mid-19th century for British civilian consumption and as provisions for the British naval fleets and North American armies due to its nonperishable nature.[8] The product was also traded to the French for use in Caribbean sugar plantations as sustenance for the colonists and the slave laborers.[9] The 17th-century British industrial processes for corned beef did not distinguish between different cuts of beef beyond the tough and undesirable parts such as the beef necks and shanks.[9][10] Rather, the grading was done by the weight of the cattle into "small beef", "cargo beef", and "best mess beef", the former being the worst and the latter the best.[9] Much of the undesirable portions and lower grades were traded to the French, while better parts were saved for British consumption or shipped to British colonies.[9]

Mmm... corned beef on rye with a side of kraut (7711551990)
A corned beef on rye bread sandwich served in an American restaurant

Ireland produced a significant amount of the corned beef in the Atlantic trade from local cattle and salt imported from the Iberian Peninsula and southwestern France.[9] Coastal cities, such as Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, created vast beef curing and packing industries, with Cork producing half of Ireland's annual beef exports in 1668.[10] Although the production and trade of corned beef as a commodity was a source of great wealth for the colonial nations of Britain and France (which were participating in the Atlantic slave trade), in the colonies themselves, the product was looked upon with disdain due to its association with poverty and slavery.[9]

Increasing corned beef production to satisfy the rising populations of the industrialised areas of Great Britain and Atlantic trade worsened the effects of the Irish Famine and the Great Potato Famine:

The Celtic grazing lands of ... Ireland had been used to pasture cows for centuries. The British colonized ... the Irish, transforming much of their countryside into an extended grazing land to raise cattle for a hungry consumer market at home ... The British taste for beef had a devastating impact on the impoverished and disenfranchised people of ... Ireland. Pushed off the best pasture land and forced to farm smaller plots of marginal land, the Irish turned to the potato, a crop that could be grown abundantly in less favorable soil. Eventually, cows took over much of Ireland, leaving the native population virtually dependent on the potato for survival.

— Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef[11]

Despite being a major producer of beef, most of the people of Ireland during this period consumed little of the meat produced, in either fresh or salted form, due to its prohibitive cost. This was because most of the farms and its produce were owned by wealthy Anglo-Irish who were absentee landlords and that most of the population were from families of poor tenant farmers, and that most of the corned beef was exported.

The lack of beef or corned beef in the Irish diet is especially true in the north of Ireland and areas away from the major centres for corned beef production. However, individuals living in these production centres such as Cork did consume the product to a certain extent. The majority of Irish who resided in Ireland at the time mainly consumed dairy products and meats such as pork or salt pork,[10] bacon and cabbage being a notable example of a traditional Irish snack.

20th century to present

Queensland State Archives 2739 Canned meat from Argentine photographed for the Federal Commerce Department c 1946
Canned corned beef produced in Argentina for export to New Zealand, 1946

Corned beef became a less important commodity in 19th-century Atlantic trade, due in part to the abolition of slavery,[9] but corned beef production and its canned form remained an important food source during the Second World War. Much of the canned corned beef came from Fray Bentos in Uruguay, with over 16 million cans exported in 1943.[10] Even now, significant amounts of the global canned corned beef supply comes from South America. Today, around 80% of the global canned corned beef supply originates from Brazil.[12]

Cultural associations

Salt beef bagel
Corned beef on a bagel with mustard, Beigel Bake, London

In North America, corned beef dishes are associated with traditional Irish cuisine. However, considerable debate remains about the association of corned beef with Ireland. Mark Kurlansky, in his book Salt, states that the Irish produced a salted beef around the Middle Ages that was the "forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef" and in the 17th century, the English named the Irish salted beef "corned beef".[13]

Some say until the wave of 18th-century Irish immigration to the United States, many of the ethnic Irish had not begun to consume corned beef dishes as seen today. The popularity of corned beef compared to bacon among the immigrant Irish may have been due to corned beef being considered a luxury product in their native land, while it was cheaply and readily available in America.[10]

The Jewish population produced similar salt-cured meat from beef brisket, which Irish immigrants purchased as corned beef from Jewish butchers. This may have been facilitated by the close cultural interactions and collaboration of these two diverse cultures in the United States' main 19th- and 20th-century immigrant port of entry, New York City.[10][14]

Canned corned beef has long been one of the standard meals included in military field ration packs around the world, due to its simplicity and instant preparation in such rations. One example is the American Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) pack. Astronaut John Young sneaked a contraband corned beef sandwich on board Gemini 3, hiding it in a pocket of his spacesuit.[15]


North America

Carnegie Deli Corned Beef
Corned beef sandwich, Carnegie Deli, New York City

In the United States and Canada, corned beef typically comes in two forms: a cut of beef (usually brisket, but sometimes round or silverside) cured or pickled in a seasoned brine, or cooked and canned.

Corned beef is often purchased ready to eat in delicatessens. It is the key ingredient in the grilled Reuben sandwich, consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island or Russian dressing on rye bread.

Corned beef hash is commonly served with eggs for breakfast.

Smoking corned beef, typically with a generally similar spice mix, produces smoked meat (or "smoked beef") such as pastrami.

In both the United States and Canada, corned beef is sold in cans in minced form. It is also sold this way in Puerto Rico and Uruguay.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Corned beef is known specifically as "salt beef" in Newfoundland and Labrador, and is sold in buckets with brine to preserve the beef. It is a staple product culturally in Newfoundland and Labrador, providing a source of meat throughout their long winters. It is still commonly eaten in Newfoundland and Labrador, most often associated with the local Jiggs dinner meal. It has as of recent years been used in different meals locally, such as a Jiggs Dinner poutine dish.

Corned beef hash from can (close up)
Corned beef hash out of the can

Saint Patrick's Day

Corned beef and cabbage, Minnesota

In the United States, consumption of corned beef is often associated with Saint Patrick's Day.[16] Corned beef is not considered an Irish national dish, and the connection with Saint Patrick's Day specifically originates as part of Irish-American culture, and is often part of their celebrations in North America.[17]

Corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish immigrants in the late 19th century.[18] Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish-American variant of the Irish dish of bacon and cabbage. A similar dish is the New England boiled dinner, consisting of corned beef, cabbage, and root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes, which is popular in New England and another similar dish, Jiggs dinner, is popular in parts of Atlantic Canada.

United Kingdom

Brass Rail, Marylebone, London (6548367167)
Sandwich, as served at the Brass Rail, Selfridges

The U.S. version of corned beef is known in the UK as salt beef.[19][20]


Corned beef dinner, with potatoes and cabbage, Ireland

The appearance of corned beef in Irish cuisine dates to the 12th century in the poem Aislinge Meic Con Glinne or The Vision of MacConglinne.[21] Within the text, it is described as a delicacy a king uses to purge himself of the "demon of gluttony". Cattle, valued as a bartering tool, were only eaten when no longer able to provide milk or to work. The corned beef as described in this text was a rare and valued dish, given the value and position of cattle within the culture, as well as the expense of salt, and was unrelated to the corned beef eaten today.[22]


In Israel, corned beef, or loof, has been the traditional field ration of the Israeli army (Israel Defense Forces). As a result of universal conscription, it was said that Israel has been force-feeding "Loof – a colloquially corrupt short form of 'meatloaf' – to its citizens since the nation's founding."[23] While some sources state that loof was developed by the IDF in the 1940s, as a form of British "bully beef", it actually antedated the State of Israel as a component of Jewish organizations' relief packages sent to Palestine by groups such as Hadassah.[23]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, both the canned and fresh varieties are referred to as corned beef; fresh corned beef is almost always made with silverside; 'silverside' and 'corned beef' are often used interchangably. Canned corned beef is especially popular among New Zealand's polynesian community, as in pacific island nations such as Western Samoa and Tonga.

See also


  1. ^ US Dept of Agriculture. "Clostridium botulinum" (PDF). Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Ingested Nitrates and Nitrites, and Cyanobacterial Peptide Toxins". International Agency for Research on Cancer. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  3. ^ a b McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and lore of the Kitchen. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-80001-1.
  4. ^ "Corn, n.1". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2010. "A small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt."
  5. ^ Norris, James F. (1921). A Textbook of Inorganic Chemistry for Colleges. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 528. OCLC 2743191. Potassium nitrate is used in the manufacture of gunpowder ... It is also used in curing meats; it prevents putrefaction and produces the deep red color familiar in the case of salted hams and corned beef.
  6. ^ Theiss, Lewis Edwin (January 1911). "Every Day Foods That Injure Health". Pearson's Magazine. New York: Pearson Pub. Co. 25: 249. you have probably noticed how nice and red corned beef is. That's because it has in it saltpeter, the same stuff that is used in making gunpowder.
  7. ^ Hessler, John C.; Smith, Albert L. (1902). Essentials of Chemistry. Boston: Benj. H. Sanborn & Co. p. 158. The chief use of potassium nitrate as a preservative is in the preparation of 'corned' beef.
  8. ^ Cook, Alexander (2004). "Sailing on The Ship: Re-enactment and the Quest for Popular History". History Workshop Journal. 57 (57): 247–255. JSTOR 25472737.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Mandelblatt, Bertie (2007). "A Transatlantic Commodity: Irish Salt Beef in the French Atlantic World". History Workshop Journal. 63 (1): 18–47. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbm028. JSTOR 25472901.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Mac Con Iomaire, Máirtín; Óg Gallagher, Pádraic (2011). "Irish Corned Beef: A Culinary History". Journal of Culinary Science and Technology. 9 (1): 27–43. doi:10.1080/15428052.2011.558464.
  11. ^ Rifkin, Jeremy (March 1, 1993). Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture. Plume. pp. 56, 57. ISBN 0-452-26952-0.
  12. ^ Palmeiras, Rafael (September 9, 2011). "Carne enlatada brasileira representa 80% do consumo mundial". Brasil Econômico. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  13. ^ Kurlansky, Mark (2002). Salt: A World History. New York: Penguin. pp. 124–127. ISBN 0-14-200161-9.
  14. ^ Brown, Alton (2007). "Pickled Pink". Good Eats. Food network. 10 (18).
  15. ^ Fessenden, Marissa (March 25, 2015). "That Time an Astronaut Smuggled a Corned Beef Sandwich To Space".
  16. ^ "Is corned beef and cabbage an Irish dish? No! Find out why..." European Cuisines. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  17. ^ Lam, Francis (March 17, 2010). "St. Patrick's Day controversy: Is corned beef and cabbage Irish?". Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  18. ^ "St. Patrick's Day Traditions".
  19. ^ "You can make your own salt beef – just don't forget to tell your other half you'll be taking over the fridge". Mail Online. February 26, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  20. ^ Murphy, M. Lynne (September 30, 2007). "Salt beef, corned beef". separated by a common language. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  21. ^ "Aislinge Meic Con Glinne". The University College Cork Ireland.
  22. ^ "Ireland: Why We Have No Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipes". European Cuisines.
  23. ^ a b Soclof, Adam (November 23, 2011). "As IDF bids adieu to Loof, a history of 'kosher Spam'".

External links

Media related to Corned beef at Wikimedia Commons

1997 PBA All-Filipino Cup

The 1997 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All-Filipino Cup was the first conference of the 1997 PBA season. It started on February 16 and ended on May 25, 1997. The tournament is an All-Filipino format, which doesn't require an import or a pure-foreign player for each team.

1997 PBA All-Filipino Cup Finals

The 1997 PBA All-Filipino Cup Finals was the best-of-7 basketball championship series of the 1997 PBA All-Filipino Cup, and the conclusion of the conference's playoffs. The Gordon's Gin Boars and Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys played for the 66th championship contested by the league.

The Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys won their 5th PBA championship with a 4-2 series win over the Gordon's Gin Boars.

1997 PBA season

The 1997 PBA season was the 23rd season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

1997 Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys season

The 1997 Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys season was the 10th season of the franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The team was known as Purefoods Carne Norte Beefies in the Governor's Cup.

Bacon and cabbage

Bacon and cabbage (Irish: bágún agus cabáiste) is a dish traditionally associated with Ireland. The dish consists of sliced back bacon boiled with cabbage and potatoes. Smoked bacon is sometimes used.

The dish is served with the bacon sliced, and with some of the boiling juices added. Another common accompaniment to the dish is white sauce, which consists of flour, butter and milk, sometimes with a flavouring of some sort (often parsley).

Bully beef

Bully beef (also known as corned beef in the United Kingdom and Ireland) refers to a variety of meat made from finely minced corned beef in a small amount of gelatin. The name "bully beef" comes from the French bouilli, meaning "boiled". It is sold in distinctive, oblong cans. Bully beef and hardtack biscuits were the main field rations of the British Army from the Boer War to World War II. It is commonly served sliced in a corned beef sandwich. "Hash and hotch-potch," in which potatoes and corned beef are stewed together, are also made. Tinned corned beef is also used in mainland Europe. Some places where British troops had a heavy presence in the 20th century (especially during World War II), such as Malta, have adopted bully beef as part of their national cuisine. In February 2009, the British Defence Equipment and Support announced that they would be phasing out bully beef from ration packs as part of the introduction of the new Multi-Climate Ration Packs

Corned beef knot

The corned beef knot is a binding knot usually made in small line or string. It gains its name by often being used for binding the meat of the same name while it is being cooked. Since corned beef shrinks during cooking, the knot needs to be tightened several times during the process.

Corned beef pie

Corned beef pie is made from corned beef, onion and often thinly sliced, cubed or mashed potato. It can be eaten hot or cold, making it a suitable common picnic food and also a 'winter warmer'. The corned beef from which the pie derives its name may be leftover corned beef, as from a Sunday dinner, or tinned Bully beef. The pie may be made with a mashed potato topping, as in Shepherd's pie, or with a traditional pastry crust.

Corned beef sandwich

A corned beef sandwich is a sandwich filled with corned beef, traditionally served with mustard and a pickle.

Fray Bentos (food brand)

The Fray Bentos food brand is associated with tinned processed meat products, originally corned beef and, latterly, meat pies. The brand has been sold in the United Kingdom, other European countries, and Australia. Created in the latter half of the 19th century, the name is derived from the port of Fray Bentos in Uruguay where the products were originally processed and packaged until the 1960s. The brand is now owned in the UK by Baxters, which manufactures the product range in Scotland. Additionally, the Campbell Soup Company manufactures and sells Fray Bentos branded steak and kidney pies in Australia.

Hash (food)

Hash is a culinary dish consisting of diced or chopped meat, potatoes and spices that are mixed together and cooked by themselves or with other ingredients such as onions. The name is derived from the French: hacher meaning "to chop". Canned corned beef hash became especially popular in countries such as Britain and France during and after the Second World War as rationing limited the availability of fresh meat. A common alternative is roast beef hash.

In many places, hash is served primarily as a breakfast food, often with eggs and toast, and occasionally with fried potatoes such as hash browns or home fries. In the United States, hash is sometimes served with biscuits.In 2011 it was reported that hash was making a comeback as more than just a dish for leftovers or breakfasts of last resort, with high-end restaurants offering sophisticated hash dishes on their menus.

Jiggs dinner

Jiggs dinner, also called boiled dinner or cooked dinner, is a traditional meal commonly prepared and eaten on Sundays in many regions around the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Corned beef and cabbage was the favorite meal of Jiggs, the central character in the popular, long-running comic strip, Bringing Up Father, by George McManus and Zeke Zekley after whom the dish is likely named.

The name of the dish is also occasionally rendered as Jigs dinner or Jigg's dinner. In the rendering "Jigg's dinner", the apostrophe is incorrectly placed if in reference to the McManus character. Sometimes referred to colloquially as "JD", "Jiggs dinner" is the most common of all renderings.

Lombard Street (Baltimore)

Lombard Street is a major street in Baltimore. It forms a one-way pair of streets with Pratt Street that run west–east through downtown Baltimore. For most of their route, Pratt Street is one-way in an eastbound direction, and Lombard Street is one-way westbound. Both streets begin in west Baltimore at Frederick Avenue and end in Butcher's Hill at Patterson Park Avenue. Since 2005, these streets have been open to two-way traffic from Broadway until their end at Patterson Park; in addition, Lombard is also two-way from Fulton Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, near the University of Maryland at Baltimore campus.To the east of Patterson Park, both Pratt and Lombard Streets start again at Linwood Avenue. Lombard Street continues mostly as a multilane street until Kane Street, short of reaching Interstate 95. Lombard, which is known as Lombard Street East in this area, with part of an interchange with the Harbor Tunnel Thruway and access to Bayview Medical Center.

Lombard Street is one of Downtown Baltimore's older streets. Its name comes from the Italian town Guardia Lombardi, as Lombard Street was originally an Italian settlement. It has undergone many changes over the past hundred years but became famous for its Corned Beef row.

New England boiled dinner

New England boiled dinner is the basis of a traditional New England meal, consisting of corned beef with cabbage and other vegetables often including potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, turnips, and beets. The leftovers are traditionally diced and fried into red flannel hash for breakfast the next day A similar Newfoundland dish is called a Jiggs dinner.

Corned beef and cabbage, a boiled meal prepared by Irish-Americans on St. Patrick's Day, is similar, but does not contain beets. Irish immigrants who arrived in America in the 19th century substituted corned beef in the Irish dish bacon and cabbage. Corned beef, which most Irish could not afford in Ireland, was relatively cheap in American cities at the time, and Irish immigrants quickly adopted this one-time luxury. Boiled with cabbage, it made a filling meal.


Panackelty (also spelt panacalty, panaculty, panackerty '"panaggie'" or abbreviated as panack) is a casseroled dish, traditional throughout the northeast of England and especially associated with Sunderland and County Durham consisting of meat (mainly corned beef) and root vegetables (mainly potatoes, onions and carrots) left to bake throughout the day in an oven pot on low heat or cooked slowly on a low heat in a pan, hence the name PANacalty. The dish exists in a number of local variations that differ in name, meat and vegetable content.

Around the Humber estuary a version is known as pan aggie and consists of layers of bacon, corned beef and onions topped with either sliced or mashed potatoes.

The Northumberland version, pan haggerty, comprises potatoes, onions and cheese baked in a baking dish,

while panackelty, in the Sunderland region, comprises leftover meat cooked slowly with leftover root vegetables made in a slow cooker or served in casserole dish left in the oven to simmer and if short of ingredients from night before would usually add more fresh root vegetables a tin of corned beef and sliced potatoes added on top. The dish is also sometimes cooked in a frying pan, or made in a large pan and served as a soup, which allows it to be left on the hob and later reheated.

Pratt Street

Pratt Street is a major street in Baltimore. It forms a one-way pair of streets with Lombard Street that run west–east through downtown Baltimore. For most of their route, Pratt Street is one-way in an eastbound direction, and Lombard Street is one way westbound. Both streets begin in west Baltimore at Frederick Avenue and end in Butcher's Hill at Patterson Park Avenue. Since 2005, these streets have been open to two-way traffic from Broadway until their end at Patterson Park. Although Lombard is also a two-way street from Fulton Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Pratt is still one-way eastbound in this area.

To the east of Patterson Park, both Pratt and Lombard Streets start again. Pratt continues as a side street from Linwood Avenue until Haven Street.

Pratt Street has historic significance as the location of the Baltimore Riot of 1861. Today it is known for being an important gateway into the Inner Harbor, connecting it with the Baltimore Light Rail line. It is for the latter reason that the city decided to redesign the street and surrounding area to be more pedestrian-friendly.

Pratt Street is named for Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden a supporter of Civil liberties in the 18th Century, and not the noted Baltimorean Enoch Pratt (1808-1896). Pratt Street appears on maps of Baltimore as early as 1801.Pratt Street was ranked the 33rd "most expensive city street" in the United States.Notable landmarks on or near Pratt Street include:

Runs through Little Italy

Oriole Park at Camden Yards (nearby)

Baltimore Convention Center

Inner Harbor/Harborplace and the Gallery

National Aquarium

The Power Plant

B&O Railroad Museum

Camden Station

100 East Pratt Street

University of Maryland, Baltimore

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

Flag House & Star-Spangled Banner Museum

Baltimore Freedom Academy

Stratford University

Privateering Tour

The Privateering Tour was a 2013 concert tour by British singer-songwriter and guitarist Mark Knopfler, promoting the release of his album Privateering. The tour started on 25 April 2013 in Bucharest, Romania, and included 70 concerts in 63 cities, ending on 31 July 2013 in Calella de Palafrugell, Spain. The tour included a six-night run at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Reuben sandwich

The Reuben sandwich is an American grilled sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread.

Roast beef sandwich

The roast beef sandwich is a sandwich that is made out of sliced roast beef or sometimes beef loaf. It is sold at many diners in the United States, as well as fast food chains, such as Arby's and Roy Rogers Restaurants. This style of sandwich often comes on a hamburger bun and may be topped with barbecue sauce and/or melted American cheese. The roast beef sandwich also commonly comprises bread, cold roast beef (either the leftovers from a homemade dinner or deli meat), lettuce, tomatoes, and mustard, although it would not be uncommon to find cheese, horseradish, fresh/powdered chili pepper and even in some cases red onion. Roast beef sandwiches may be served cold or hot, and are sometimes served open faced.

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