Making Corned Beef at Home

A friend has just reminded me that now is the time to start corning a brisket of beef, if I want to have this delicious treat ready for St. Patrick’s Day.  This recipe was given to me by a birding friend who has since died, far too young, from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  Making her recipe every year brings back the memory of her gentle ways and treasured friendship.

This recipe uses all natural ingredients, no unnatural chemically induced red coloring or preservatives.   Use a large non-reactive pot (enamel or stainless steel).  If you don’t have one, marinate the beef in a plastic bag, placing the bag in a large bowl in case it leaks.


  • 5 pounds beef brisket
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 cups coarse salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. juniper berries (if you can’t find them use a jigger of gin)
  • 2 tsp. allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 peeled garlic cloves

Using a fork, pierce the meat all over.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the brine over the meat, cover and refrigerate for 10 days.  Remove the meat and rinse thoroughly.  Place the meat in a stock pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for one hour.  Pour off the water, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer until the meat is very tender, another 2 or three hours.  Remove from water.  To serve, cool the meat and slice paper thin.  It slices more easily when cooled.  You can slice it hot but the pieces aren’t as tidy.  Keep it covered as it dries out easily.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Don’t be put off by the grey-brown color.  That is the natural color of corned beef.


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