Saturday, January 3, 2009

Corned Beef: Vegetarians Beware!

Tristan and I spent the last week in my "hometown" of Boulder, CO, visiting friends and family. We stopped in to see a mentor of mine, the lady responsible for getting me involved with community radio. As it so happens she is also a fermented foods aficionado, and she treated us to a delicious lunch of borscht with homemade creme fraische, homemade sauerkraut, and the kicker--homemade corned beef! Corned beef is a fermented brisket. She made hers in a broth of sauerkraut juice, salt, and spices including bay leaves. She was also working on a low salt version, but it didn't seem to smell quite right, so she didn't feed it to us.

Corning beef is a way to preserve meat without refrigeration. That said, it's not smoked or dried, so you cant leave it sitting out like this forever. You could probably pressure can it once it's thoroughly pickled, but don't quote me on that. Rumor has it that the Irish used to corn beef during lent and eat it at the end. Other historians think corned beef has nothing to do with the Irish.

I'm pretty into the idea of doing more with preserving meat. Stocking Up had a hefty section on this sort of thing in a previous edition, but the edition I have has removed it for health concerns (most of the methods involve quite a lot of salt).

Of course we couldn't wait to try it at home. Pictured is our version, just set up today. Should be corned beef in 3 days or so. I'll let you know. And yes, it looks kind of gross...

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