Salt beef

(46 ratings)

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Salt beef recipe
Salt beef recipe
  • Serves: 8-10

  • Prep time:

  • Cooking time:

    plus 7 days soaking
  • Skill level: Bit of effort

  • Costs: Mid-price

Making your own salt beef is a bit of an undertaking, it's not complicated or difficult but there are several steps to the process and you need to let it soak in a pickling mixture for about 7 days. However, having said that when salted and cooked it is melting tender, falls apart and is delicious piled onto bagels or rye bread with plenty of pickles and mustard. Traditionally saltpetre or sodium nitrite is used in the salting mixture to keep the meat pink, you can buy it from some sausage making websites, but it's not essential.


  • 300g soft light brown sugar
  • 350g coarse sea salt
  • 2tsp black peppercorns
  • 2tsp juniper berries
  • 1tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1tbsp mustard seeds
  • 50g saltpetre (optional)
  • 2kg piece beef brisket
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 celery stick, cut into chunks
  • 1 leek, cut into chunks
  • Handful of parsley stalks
  • 6 unpeeled garlic cloves

Cooked salt beef will keep in the fridge for 1 week.


  1. Place the sugar, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries, coriander seeds, 4 bay leaves, mustard seeds and saltpetre in a very large pan. Add 2 litres water and bring to the boil, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 2 mins. Remove from the heat and leave until cold.
  2. Pierce the piece of beef all over with a skewer. Place in a large clean heavy duty polythene bag or a sterilized plastic food tub. Add the cold spiced liquid and seal the bag or cover the container, making sure the meat is covered by the liquid. Leave in a cool place or fridge for 7 days, turning the bag everyday.
  3. Rinse the meat thoroughly in cold water then roll up and tie with string. Place in a large pan with the vegetables, parsley stalks, remaining bay leaves and garlic. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 21/2 hrs until meltingly tender. Leave to cool in the cooking liquid then cut into thick slices or tear into pieces with two forks.

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