If you have kids or have ever been around really young ones you will get this question a lot. Why do I need to go bed? Why do I need to eat my broccoli? Why? Why? Why? As an adult I still find myself asking the question a lot.
One St. Patrick’s Day I was wondering why do we call the meat that we Americans eat on St. Patrick’s Day corned beef. If you have wondered this, your about to wonder no more!
Why Is Corned Beef Called Corned Beef?
Time for a little history lesson. Corned beef has been around for quite a while, since the 17th century. Back when beef was first corned, we didn’t have those delightful sweet ears we all enjoy. Corn just meant a small particle. So to corn beef was to pack it with a small particles.
Salt and spices are used to replace the moisture in the beef, thus preserving it.
Corned Beef is Pickled
The beef is typically pickled, that is put into a wet brine that contains salt, sugar, and spices. Those spices can include things like mustard seeds, juniper berries, allspice berries, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves, and ginger,
Why is Corned Beef Pink?
Most manufacturers add potassium nitrate (saltpeter) to give the beef it’s pink color. Corned beef is made from brisket (click here to read more about brisket) that needs a long time to cook, so there is no way it will be pink without some help, that is where the saltpeter comes in.
You can make your own corned beef that doesn’t have saltpeter in it. It won’t retain that pink color, it appears a less appetizing gray. I have done this before and it honestly doesn’t bother me.