The word “corn” derives from an Old English word meaning “large grain” and large grains of rock salt are traditionally used to preserve corned beef. Corned beef is preserved by pickling or curing it in a seasoned brine and saltpeter. This process is referred to as corning. The brine is used to halt bacterial growth while also giving corned beef its salty flavor. The saltpeter is mainly used to give the beef its pink coloring. Without saltpeter, the beef would be an unappetizing grayish color.
So, “corned” refers to the preserving process, not the ingredients. There is no corn in corned beef.
- Pastrami is really corned beef that is smoked.
- One of President Grover Cleveland’s favorite dishes was corned beef and cabbage.
- Corned beef and cabbage is the traditional dish to eat on St. Patrick’s in America even though corned beef isn’t actually very popular in Ireland.
- NY Daily News – What exactly is corned beef, anyway?
- NoshOn.it – Why Is It Called Corned Beef?
- Delishably – Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About Corned Beef