Corned Beef

Corned Beef
Beef cut and Steak type
Corned BeefFood | In the U.S. and Canada, corned beef has two meanings. One refers to a cut of beef (usually brisket, but sometimes round or silverside) cured or pickled in a seasoned brine. The other use of the term refers to a tinned product generally found with canned goods on supermarket shelves.

The "corn" in "corned beef" refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the usage of "corn", meaning "small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt." The term "corned beef" can denote different styles of brine-cured beef, depending on the region.

Canada and the United States

Corned Beef
Cooked corned beef
In the United States, corned beef is often purchased precooked, as in delicatessens. Also famous is the Reuben sandwich, consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island or Russian dressing on rye bread which is then grilled on a flat griddle or in a cast iron pan in oil.

Corned beef hash is commonly served as a breakfast food with eggs and hash browns.

Smoking corned beef, usually with the addition of extra spices such as black pepper, produces a cold cut known as pastrami.

Saint Patrick’s Day

The consumption of corned beef is associated with Saint Patrick’s Day, when many Irish Americans eat a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage. According to the History Channel, corned beef was originally used as a substitute for bacon by Irish American immigrants in the late 1800s.  Irish immigrants living in New York City’s Lower East Side sought an equivalent in taste and texture to their traditional Irish bacon, and learned about this cheaper alternative to bacon from their Jewish neighbors. 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 parts of Atlantic Canada.

As St. Patrick’s Day occurs annually during Lent, the corned beef tradition caused controversy among American Catholic dioceses in 2000 and 2006, when the holiday fell on a Friday Catholic custom dictates that no meat be consumed on any Friday during Lent, but some bishops granted dispensations to their dioceses for eating corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. This rare occurrence will next happen on Friday in 2017.


Corned Beef
A traditionally shaped tin
of corned beef as sold in
Germany and the UK
Two canned versions of commercial corned beef are sold in Germany. The original is usually called American Corned Beef and consists of finely shredded corned beef with a low fat content and is similar to Spam. Another version is called Deutsches Corned Beef and is closer to the product described above. It is not as finely shredded, it contains chunks of corned beef and is usually embedded in aspic. Deutsches Corned Beef is also sold in slices at supermarket meat counters and butcher shops.


The product commonly known as corned beef in the UK (also known as bully beef; from the French bouilli ‘boiled’) is sold in distinctive oblong-shaped tin cans containing finely ground meat in a small amount of jelly. A typical ingredient list is: Beef, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Nitrite. A 100 gram portion contains 12.5 grams of fat and 2.3 grams of salt. Like those cans used for sardines, corned beef cans are specially scored so that the metal can be broken apart by the leverage of winding it around a slotted church key that is provided with the can. This product is also sold in the US and in Spain, the latter is commonly supplied from Argentina.

A common way of eating corned beef cold in the UK is sliced in a sandwich accompanied by tomato, lettuce or cucumber and a spread such as pickle or English mustard.

In the North East of England, Corned Beef is more commonly eaten in a sandwich with pickled beetroot or on its own, as opposed to the above combinations. Also eaten hot as a toastie normally with onions.

There is also an un-tinned product known as corned beef in the US which is sold as salt beef in the UK that is mostly available in major cities which have Jewish communities.


Since the foundation of the State of Israel, the IDF has developed Loof (לוף), which is a slightly adapted form of corned beef that is packaged almost identically to Spam, and is more nutritious, durable and easily prepared to taste either through cooking or frying with other foods. The name loof is a short and simplified form of meat loaf.Loof is a standard issue in the IDF, and is made by Richard Levy Company of Israel. All Loof is kosher, and most are Hallal for Beduin and Druze service personnel. The product has become an Israeli folk delicacy.

New Zealand and Australia

Australian and New Zealand butchers and supermarkets usually stock corned beef as Corned Silverside” which is usually poached in a large pot or a slow cooker, usually with cloves, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves and onions. Traditionally, this will be served with white sauce or a form of cooked mustard sauce.

Pacific Islands

Tinned corned beef is a delicacy in Pacific Island countries and is usually brought out for special occasions such as Christmas day. Tins are often used as gifts at weddings, funerals and feasts.  Further round the Pacific Ocean in South America (particularly Argentina) corned beef is a staple of most people’s diets. In a recent survey carried out on behalf of the Argentinian government to find out more about their citizens’ eating habits it has emerged that up to 88% of the population will eat corned beef twice a week.

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