So, why is it called "corned" beef?

It being St. Paddy’s Day, I thought I’d pass this along.

A friend called and asked “Why do they call it corned beef?” Look around in it, you will not find any corn in there.

I pulled out my copy of “The Joy of Cooking” and found this in the section on preserving meat:  “Corned beef” has nothing to do with corn. The beef is  soaked in a solution of pickling spice, garlic, sugar and salt for about three weeks.  The “corn” part comes because, in England where this method of preserving beef was apparently invented, they used very rough salt whose kernels were the size of grains of wheat. In this country, think “ice cream salt,” that really coarse stuff.

In England, wheat and other such grains are generically called “corn,” and were so called way before the importation of the American version of corn from the New World.

Add corn-size salt to your beef, you get “corned beef.”

What we call corn is, of course, more correctly called “maize.” If you add that to beef, you’d bet “maized beef,” I guess. I’ll stick with the Green Giant Niblets.

Happy St. Paddy’s. Don’t drink too much of that green beer.

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One Response to So, why is it called "corned" beef?

  1. Neal Humphrey says:

    As a former resident of the British Isles I recall getting my head straight on “corn” in both English vernacular and the King James Translation of the Bible. What we call “corn” the British call “maize.” When a Briton says “corn” they mean a kernel of grain (wheat, barley, etc.).

    The corning of beef is also related to the peppercorns coating the meat.

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