First Try at Corned Beef

I’ve made sauerkraut and fermented onions in the past, and I have been playing with the idea of making corned beef, which uses similar principles and techniques. While traditionally made from beef brisket, I used chuck because of the price difference. I picked up these 4.5 lbs at Costco for $20.  The idea behind this recipe is that, by keeping the food in a salty environment and reducing the amount of oxygen, Lactobacillus bacteria will preserve the food by removing sugars and creating an acidic environment. These two conditions, along with the salt added by the recipe, prevent other organisms from growing and spoiling the food. This recipe is especially cool because it doesn’t use any sodium nitrate or other artificial preservatives that are found in commercial corned beef.  On top of this, the lactic acid produced by Lactobacilli adds flavor to the food.

I began by gathering all of the spices I would need together.


I used:

8 cups water
1 cup salt
6 cloves garlic
6-7 bay leaves (they were old and broken)
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
2 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
1 Tbsp Juniper Berries
4 Cloves
4.5 lbs Beef Chuck

I added the salt to the water, and brought it to a boil to dissolve. Then, I let it cool back down.


While the water was heating, I measured out all of my spices, and put the meat in my fermenter. I use a 2-gallon bucket to ferment foods. It has a lid with an airtight seal (So the house doesn’t smell like cabbage, onion, etc.) and an airlock. I’ll post a picture later in the process of what it looks like.


When the salt water was cool, I added it to the bucket along with the spices (including the garlic, of which I didn’t take a picture).


To keep the meat from floating, I added a ceramic plate the same diameter as the bucket. This is something I learned when making sauerkraut and it seems to work quite well. I have also added weights (jars of water) to the top of the plate, but in this case the plate alone seemed good enough.


Finally, I put the lid on the fermenter. Now I put it in a safe place (I have room in my pantry) to let it ferment. In a few days, I will turn the meat over. I have read that the process can take anywhere from one week to three weeks, so we will see.


Well, there we have it! A first attempt at corned beef!

‘Till next time,

~The Homesteading Hippy

6 thoughts on “First Try at Corned Beef

  1. durieudm Post author

    This morning, I checked on the corned beef and turned it. I took a couple pictures and posted them, so check out the update!
    ~The Homesteading Hippy

    1. The Homesteading Hippy Post author

      It helps preserve the meat, since the Lactobacilli out-compete any other bacteria, and use up the nutrients that disease-causing organisms would grow on. It also helps add flavor to the meat. Many dry sausages, such as salami (including pepperoni) are fermented as well.

  2. Pingback: Simple Lacto-Fermented Onions | The Homesteading Hippy

  3. Pingback: Sauerkraut with my Mom | The Homesteading Hippy

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