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Salt beef

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 6:26 pm
by bluebower
Hello everyone, I was reading an old cookery book this AM & took a fancy to making some Salt beef, I remember having it in a sandwich in the US some time ago, I think it was served on rye bread with a dollop of sourkraut & dill pickles on the side, I'm digressing now, sorry but that's what happens when age & gin catch up with you! Anyway the recipe calls for salt petre, which is what I was searching for when I found this site. I'm wondering if any of you have tried making this and if you could give me any pointers or tips before I start. I look forward hearing from you. P.S. Is it the same as corned beef?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:11 pm
by Oddley
Welcome to the forum bluebower.

Salt Beef or corned Beef originated in Ireland and then was exported to the US. Even though the Americans would claim it for there own. What you had in the States sound like pastrami.

The very old recipes sometimes use very large amounts of Potassium Nitrate (Saltpetre) in their cured meats recipes so caution is advised as it can be potentially lethal.

If you post the recipe we can look it over and perhaps make some suggestions.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:19 pm
by bluebower
Thanks for the info Odley, here's the recipe I found, It's for a 5-6lb joint.
6oz light brown sugar 2oz peppercorns
1oz allspice berries 2oz juniper berries
1oz saltpetre 6oz sea salt

First rub the beef all over with the brown sugar and leave it for 2 days in a glazed stoneware crock or bowl. Crush all the spices with the salt and saltpeter in a mortar. They should be well broken up but need not be reduced to a powder. With this mixture you rub the beef thoroughly each day for 9 � 24 days according to the size.
I'm a bit worried about having the uncooked beef in the fridge for so long, what would you advise? other than opening a tin of Fray Bentos that is.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:57 pm
by Oddley
Hi bluebower

As I said some old recipes contain amounts of saltpetre which could be dangerous. In my opinion this is one of them.

For 5 lb or 2.268 kg of meat this recipe contains 12500 ppm or mg/kg of potassium nitrate which is an enormous amount.

I would recommend 500 ppm or mg/kg which for 2,268 kg meat is 1.13 gm saltpetre. As this amount is hard to measure I would recommend using cure #2. This can be bought from:

The salt and sugar in this recipe works out at 7.5%. which in my opinion is to salty for today's taste. I would recommend 3% but that is up to you.

I have written the recipe as I would use it below. I have not changed the spices as that is a personal choice.

Salt beef

5 - 6 lb Beef

3 oz Sea Salt
3 oz Light Brown Sugar
1 oz Allspice
2 oz Juniper Berries
2 oz peppercorns

1 gram Cure #2 per 1 lb of meat (Do not exceed this amount)

Rub on all the ingredients and put the meat in a Ziploc bag or plastic container in the bottom of the fridge. At a temp of 1 - 4 deg Centigrade and turn once a day for at least 14 days.
The cure #2 should protect the meat from nasties.

I can't guarantee the taste of the recipe but please use the recommended amount of cure and you will be safe.

If you have any questions no matter how silly you think them, please ask. we were all beginners once.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:17 am
by aris
Hey oddley, why don't you write a VB program which calculates this stuff for us? Inputs would be things like weight of meat, and type of cure used, and output would show us if this was an acceptable level of nitrate based on USDA or EU standards.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:42 am
by Oddley
Hi aris I have started a VB program of the sort you suggested. It takes a long time to make a fully fledged application of this sort. To be honest I'm having a bit of trouble working up the enthusiasm for the effort required.

At the moment I have a GUI outlined and some coding done. The more I get into it the more I find what a huge task it is. There is no point in making a small utility like I produced for percentages.

It would have to be an all encompassing app which is a huge commitment of time and effort. If I can find the will to commit myself I will, no promises.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:45 am
by aris
I tink a small applett like your percentages one would be just fine.

Basically have a radio box to choose your nitrate/nitrite (saltpeter, cure1, cure2, etc), and a box to enter the weight of the meat - output would be the ppm of nitrite.

If you want to get fancy, you can colour the output in red to warn of dangerous levels.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 10:47 am
by Oddley
What you suggest is OK for dry cures but for wet method or immersion cures all the ingredient weights have to be taken into account. This is where the app starts to grow. Also sometimes for instance you have to add more chemical like saltpetre than the recommend ingoing amount. If not using a combination cure, saltpetre on its own for instance.

I happen to know most commercial cures are combination cures to get around ingoing amounts. This is to give safe residual levels. So you can see all the variables that have to be accounted for. I have just mentioned a few of the things that have to be taken into consideration. So you can see how the app grows. As the chemicals being used are toxic mistakes are not acceptable, as I could be liable. I would have to do the job right or not at all.

Salt beef

PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:09 pm
by bluebower
Thanks for the recipe Oddley, I've just ordered cure #2 & plan to make a start when it arrives. I'll let you know how it progresses, is that too many s's?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 2:12 am
by Bad Flynch
What you had was called a Ruben (or Reuben) Sandwich. It is made with what we call Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, and a dressing that is much akin to Thousand Island dressing. It is customarily served on Rye bread. Many of us would use the sweeter Bavarian Sauerkraut or rinse regular sauerkraut to take out some of the excess acidity.

The Corned beef that you encountered is not the same as Pastrami. It is nearly so, but is plainer. Corned Beef can be made by simply curing brisket in Morton's TenderQuick, with no other spice added. However, I prefer to cure it with TQ, garlic powder, and a commercial mix known here as pickling spice. Cook by braising until tender. It is excellent when smoke-cooked, too.

Spiced beef

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:54 pm
by bluebower
Thanks for that info B.F. I recall having smoked clams when I was in U.S.
Have you ever heard of them?

Re: Spiced beef

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 9:09 pm
by Bad Flynch
bluebower wrote:Thanks for that info B.F. I recall having smoked clams when I was in U.S.
Have you ever heard of them?

Yes, but I live in an area that is far from the sea and the local freshwater clams are not usually eaten. Although some are considered edible, most are considered unpalatable.