Lard t'underin' Jeeezus b'y, is this beef good enough for a scoff?
September 2, 2012 8:24 AM   Subscribe

CanIEatIt Filter: I bought 2 tubs of salt beef (aka navel beef, beef in brine, etc.) to make Jigg's dinner after a recent trip to Newfoundland (b'y!). I opened the tub and the blood is all brown and so is the meat. I recall seeing the meat and blood coming out really pink before. Did it go off? I threw it out anyways, but if the second one looks the same, maybe it's supposed to be that way?
posted by 1000monkeys to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If there was nitrite in the brine, then the meat would still be pink. However, if the brine is made with just salt (no nitrites), then the meat does go kind of brown-grey colour.

Smell the meat, feel it. If it smells sour or feels slimy, it's likely not any good. If you want to try and salvage it, take the meat out of the brine, wash it off, and make a fresh brine and soak it. The salt *should* kill any growies on the meat.

But bear in mind, if you are truly making Jigg's dinner, then 1) you're going to boil the meat by itself once anyway, and toss that water, and 2) boil it again in fresh water with the veg. So, in all, the meat will have been thoroughly cooked by the time you're ready to eat.

If you're really, really freaked out, then do as my Newfie relatives do. Buy some pork hocks, and do your Jigg's dinner with those. That's an Irish variant called "crubeen" (pig's foot).
posted by LN at 8:36 AM on September 2, 2012

Yeah, salt beef is only pink if you add curing salt, which contains sodium nitrite in addition to regular sodium chloride. If they just used regular salt, it turns a distinct brown-grey color.

Here's the thing though: it's almost impossible for salt beef to go "off". That's the whole point of curing it in the first place. Salt is one of the most potent preservation ingredients known to man. It's possible, of course, but it takes quite some time.
posted by valkyryn at 8:56 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Salt beef was taken aboard long sea voyages before refrigeration existed. It takes a loooooong time to go bad (even longer if, like my wife, you keep the (smaller) bucket in the fridge). I think the last batch we had turned this colour after opening and we didn't die from eating it.

Barring any of the slime or smell that LN notes, you should be safe to enjoy your delicious salt beef.
posted by asnider at 9:38 AM on September 2, 2012

Response by poster: Awesome, thanks everybody for your answers. Now I feel kinda stupid for throwing the first bucket out. Oops! :-) Though I'm sure it says on the bucket that it's preserved with a bunch of mentions sodium nitrite and a whole bunch of other chemicals. *shrugs* I guess if it's okay to eat, then I might as well boil 'er up. I'll soak it overnight tonight and cook it up tomorrow with my little turkey.
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:42 AM on September 2, 2012

Newfoundlander here. You're safe. Have a great feed b'ys!
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:38 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks. Okay, so this is weird. I decided to pick up another bucket to replace the one I chucked out. This one has really pink/red blood and the meat is really pink and looks like a normal cut of raw meat, whereas the other one was grey-brown and looked like it was cooked/boiled with dark brown blood. Maybe it's just because it's a different company? But the new one looks much more appetizing and doesn't smell as much. *shrugs* Well, at least I won't be worried about eating this one :D I'm soaking it now as I bake 4 loaves of fresh newfie bread :-)
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:39 PM on September 2, 2012

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