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What is corned beef brisket?

Where is the corn in corned beef? It's a curing process.

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Corned beef sandwich
Erik Rank/Photolibrary/Getty Images

What is corned beef brisket?

Brisket is the most common cut used for corned beef, although other cuts can also be used. Corned beef is beef that is cured in a salt brine, often with spices. Some meat-packers actually inject the brine into the arterial network.

The term corned comes not from the vegetable corn, but from the English term corn, meaning any small particle, such as the coarse-grained salt which was used for curing.

In your market, you'll most likely find the newer style of corned beef, a rosy red color, vacuum-sealed in a bath of brine. Old-fashioned corned beef is more grayish-pink in color and more salty.

Luckily, most of today's corned beef is processed without nitrates (saltpeter), which used to be used as a preservative against botulism and to maintain the bright red color. Some studies have shown nitrates to be a cancer-causing agent, so most foods are moving away from this preserving method.

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Corned Beef Photo © 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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