7 Tips: Is Corned Beef Salty? How to Reduce Saltiness Easily

Easy ways to reduce the saltiness of corned beef: soak in water, cook low and slow, add seasonings, serve cold, and learn the history behind this dish.

Corned Beef

Corned beef brisket is a salty dish made from preserved and cured beef brisket. It is traditionally served on St Patrick’s Day and often accompanied by cabbage. If you don’t like the saltiness, here’s how to make corned beef less salty.

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Soaking the Beef in Water

The easiest way to remove the salt from your corned beef is to soak the raw meat in water. This will take some time, but it is very simple. Just unwrap the beef, draining the pickling juices in the package.

Rinse it under some running water and then put it in a large bowl or pot. Cover the beef with cool water and put the whole thing back into the refrigerator. 

Four hours later, take the corned beef out and drain the water. Add some more water and repeat the same process.

Do this a third time. Now your beef is ready to prepare and much of the too salty flavor has been washed down the drain.

Cook Corned Beef Low and Slow Covered in Water

If you plan on simmering the beef, the cooking process will leach out much of the salt as it cooks. Put the rinsed beef in a pot and cover it with cold water.

Put the meat on the stove and simmer it for three to four hours with a tightly fitting lid on the pot. The salt will dissolve from the meat as it cooks on the stove.

Be sure that you check the meat occasionally to make sure that the cooking liquid is covering the meat.

After several hours, you’ll have delicious and tender corned beef. Drain away the cooking water and all the excess salt will go with it. You can also use a slow cooker to prepare the meat this way.

Add Interesting Seasonings or Sauces

Suppose you did all the above, and you still think that your corned beef tastes too salty? Is it a lost cause? Actually, no. You can still salvage your meat and have a delicious meal. Did you know that sour or tart things can trick your taste buds into not noticing something that is too salty?

Serve your corned beef with mustard, pickles, or some kind of relish, and you probably won’t be able to tell that the meat was overly salty.

Corned Beef Cabbage 7 Tips: Is Corned Beef Salty? How to Reduce Saltiness Easily

Sauerkraut is a long time favorite that is often served with corned beef. Combine it with a starchy carb like a potato or in a hearty stew and you’ll be good to go.

Serve It Cold

Corned Beef

Did you know that warmer foods taste saltier than colder foods? If your corned beef is too salty, you may want to try it again after you have refrigerated it (after cooking corned beef, of course).

You may want to slice it thin and serve it on a sandwich with condiments. Chances are good that you won’t even notice how salty the meat is once it is on a sandwich.

Where’s the Corn in Corned Beef?

You may have noticed that there is no corn in corned beef.  Years ago, the word corn not only meant the yellow grain that grew on stalks.

It also meant anything that was roughly the size of a corn kernel, like the chunks of salt that were used to brine a beef brisket and preserve it. Corned beef was beef that was preserved with chunks of salt that were the size of corn kernels. 

The chunks of salt prohibited bacterial growth and kept the meat from spoiling very quickly. In the days before refrigeration or freezing was available, preserving meat by pickling, brining, and drying were the only options to keep meat safely preserved for more than a few days. 

What’s the Irish Connection?

You may have wondered why is corned beef associated with the Irish?  Did the Irish eat corned beef in Ireland? This question goes back to the time when the Irish first came to America.

They actually were not accustomed to eating corned beef until they came to America. In Ireland, beef was sold for cash and the common people ate cheap cuts of pork like bacon. 

However, when the Irish came to the United States, they found that corned beef was much cheaper than the pork that they were used to eating. Because so many of the Irish were poor, they chose to eat corned beef.

Poverty is also the main reason that cabbage was frequently paired with corned beef. Cabbage was another food that was very inexpensive in the United States, so they chose it to accompany their corned beef meals. 

Despite the fact that these foods are relatively cheap, they were actually very nourishing for the Irish immigrants. Cabbage contains plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and beef is high in protein and contains zinc, B Vitamins, and potassium.

How Do You Cook Corned Beef?

After you have soaked your corned beef you have several options for how to prepare it. As Brad at Bon Appetit says –

  1. Brad makes his own pickling spice blend with ingredients like ginger, coriander, mustard seeds, and bay leaves. Don’t be afraid to try it yourself!
  2. The brisket is cured in a brine made with salt, brown sugar, pink curing salt, and Guinness for 5 days. It adds flavor while cutting the salt.
  3. After curing, the corned beef is simmered for 3-4 hours in a cooking liquid flavored with the pickling spices. Again – the pickling enhances but doesn’t add to the salt.
  4. The corned beef is served with boiled cabbage, carrots, potatoes and onion. It should have nice pink color and slice across the grain.
  5. Brad enjoys the finished corned beef with cabbage and Guinness beer for a perfect St. Patrick’s Day meal.
Brad at Bon Appetit

Baking Corned Beef

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the corned beef from your soaking water and throw out the water. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel.

Use a piece of foil to line a 9 by 13 baking pan. The foil should be large enough to fold over the meat, packet style.

Put the meat in the pan, fatty side up and rub it all over with mustard. Sprinkle the seasoning packet that came with the corned beef all over the meat.

Fold the foil over the meat, wrapping it tightly. Bake the meat for 1 hour per pound. When the meat is cooked, unwrap the meat and put it under the broiler until it is crispy and golden brown. Slice the meat across the grain and serve.

Using a Slow Cooker

Remove the corned beef from the soaking water and discard the water. Put the meat in a slow cooker, sprinkling it with the spice packet, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons minced garlic. Add 2 cups of beef broth or Guinness beer.

Put the lid on the slow cooker and let the meat cook for 4 or 5 hours on low. Along with the meat, add a pound of baby potatoes and 3 or 4 whole, peeled carrots.

Cook it for another 3 hours. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and let it stand for about 15 minutes before slicing it and serving with the potatoes and carrots. This will also help your corned beef not get overcooked.

In a Dutch Oven

To prepare corned beef and cabbage in a Dutch oven, drain the soaking water from your corned beef. Place 2 large red potatoes with the skins on in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add 1 chopped onion and 3 peeled chopped carrots.

Add the meat. Pour in 24 ounces of beer or beef broth. Sprinkle the spice packet over the meat. The meat should be mostly submerged in the liquid with a bit sticking out of it.

Put the lid on the Dutch oven and bake at 350 for 2 hours. Cut a head of cabbage into 4 chunks and add them to the pot, nestling it in around the meat and veggies.

Put the lid back on the pot, return it to the oven for another hour. Remove the pot from the oven and let the meat rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes before slicing and serving it with the veggies. 

FAQs About Salty Corned Beef

Here are a few FAQs about Salty Corned Beef.

What do I do if my corned beef is too salty?

If your corned beef is too salty, you can try soaking it in cold water for a few hours. You can also boil the beef in fresh water to dilute the saltiness. Finally, you can use a marinade or sauce to enhance the flavor of the meat.

How do you fix salty brisket?

One way to fix a salty brisket is to soak it in cold water for several hours. Another option is to boil the meat in fresh water for a few hours until it becomes more tender. You could also try using various seasonings to cover up the salty taste.

Is brisket a salty meat?

Brisket is not a particularly salty meat, but the brine or pickling solution used to cure corned beef can make it salty. If you’re concerned about the saltiness of your corned beef, you can always rinse and soak it in cold water for 30 minutes before cooking.

Does salt dry out brisket?

Yes, salt does dry out brisket. But, the brine gives it all the moisture and flavor it needs, that you can’t get with simple seasoning.

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