Corned Beef

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

corned beef so called because the beef is preserved with ‘corns’ (grains) of salt. In the form known in modern times it is then chopped and pressed and packed in characteristic rectangular cans. Much of it came from the river port of Fray Bentos in Uruguay where the German chemist Justus von Liebig had set up a processing plant for his Extract of Meat Company in 1866 to produce what was later known as Oxo. From 1873 they also manufactured corned beef under the label of Fray Bentos. The firm passed to British control in 1924. However, production in Uruguay ceased in 1979. In 1943, more than 16 million cans were exported. The town called itself ‘the kitchen of the world’.