Bully beef (also known as corned beef in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and other Commonwealth countries as well as the United States) is a variety of meat made from finely minced corned beef in a small amount of gelatin. The name "bully beef" likely comes from the French bouilli (meaning "boiled") in Napoleonic times, or possibly from the head of a bull depicted on the popular Hereford brand of canned corned beef. The cans have a distinctive oblong shape. Bully beef and hardtack biscuits were the main field rations of the British Army from the Boer War to World War II. It is commonly served sliced in a corned beef sandwich. Potato-based dishes, such as "hash and hotch-potch", in which the potatoes and beef are stewed together, and "corned beef hash", where pre-boiled potatoes and corned beef are mixed with Worcestershire sauce then fried, are also made. Tinned corned beef is also used in France. Some places where British troops were present in the 20th century (especially during World War II), such as Malta, have adopted bully beef as part of their national cuisine. In February 2009, the British Defence Equipment and Support announced that they would be phasing out bully beef from ration packs as part of the introduction of the new Multi-Climate Ration Packs until this change was reversed due to backlash.
The dish soup and bouilli was being called "soup and bully" by 1753, and probably earlier, with the meat portion referred to as "bully beef". As use of canned soup and bouilli increased on merchant ships and in the Royal Navy over the 19th century, sailors were also calling it bully beef and extended the expression to all canned meats.
During the Zulu Wars of 1879, corned beef was being used extensively with over 500 tons being sent to South Africa in 6 months. Most of this was supplied by American packing companies but about 10% came from Canada and Australia. It was not the only meat; "Boiled tin mutton... or "bully soup" as it is more frequently called was an option for some soldiers.
The iconic rectangular bully beef tin of the Boer War and First World War possibly first appeared in soldiers' rations in this campaign as it was reported that in 1879 over 4,400 tons of preserved beef had been exported to England by Libby, McNeil and Libby, with over 260 tons sent to the troops in South Africa. In 1875, Arthur Libby and W. J. Wilson had obtained a patent for a rectangular can with tapered sides allowing the can's contents "to slide out in one piece, so as to be readily sliced as desired". The meat was precooked to reduce shrinkage and, as described in another patent, packed into the can under pressure "to remove the air and all superfluous moisture", hence the compressed corned beef description on the label. The patents were declared void in 1881 when Prior art was shown to exist, allowing other packing houses to produce similar cans.
As was common at the time, the newspapers used letters from soldiers to provide news of the war, and it was in a letter from Private J. Smith of the 91st Highlanders that the expression "bully beef and biscuits" first appeared in print. A few years later, owing to the intense interest it created in England, correspondents accompanied Lord Wolseley's expedition to relieve General Charles George Gordon and his Egyptian troops, besieged in Khartoum. The journey up the Nile took months and with no fighting to report, journalists wrote about the more mundane aspects of soldier's lives with mentions of 'bully beef' appearing in a majority of their articles and 'bully beef and biscuits' appearing occasionally.
The next development was the key open can. Both J. Osterhoudt, in 1866, and Arsène Saupiquet in 1882, had patented key open cans, with possibly only Saupiquet achieving commercial success, but it was not until a cheaper method of production was developed by John Zimmerman in 1892 that American companies adopted the innovation, with Cudahy's, Libby's and Armour soon producing corned beef in the easy to open tins. The British Government was slow to adopt the new cans, and in 1898 the Civil and Military Gazette saw it as scandalous that they were still supplying meat in "unget-at-able" tins when the new cans were available.
Corned beef, or salt beef in some Commonwealth countries, is salt-cured brisket of beef. The term comes from the treatment of the meat with large-grained rock salt, also called "corns" of salt. Sometimes, sugar and spices are added to corned beef recipes. Corned beef is featured as an ingredient in many cuisines.
Most recipes include nitrates, which convert the natural myoglobin in beef to nitrosomyoglobin, giving it a pink color. Nitrates and nitrites reduce the risk of dangerous botulism during curing by inhibiting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria spores, but have been linked to increased cancer risk in mice. Beef cured without nitrates or nitrites has a gray color, and is sometimes called "New England corned beef".
Tinned corned beef was a popular meal throughout numerous wars, including World War I and World War II, during which fresh meat was rationed. It also remains popular worldwide as an ingredient in a variety of regional dishes and as a common part in modern field rations of various armed forces around the world.
Although the exact origin of corned beef is unknown, it most likely came about when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. Evidence of its legacy is apparent in numerous cultures, including ancient Europe and the Middle East. The word corn derives from Old English and is used to describe any small, hard particles or grains. In the case of corned beef, the word may refer to the coarse, granular salts used to cure the beef. The word "corned" may also refer to the corns of potassium nitrate, also known as saltpeter, which were formerly used to preserve the meat.
Although the practice of curing beef was found locally in many cultures, the industrial production of corned beef started in the British Industrial Revolution. Irish corned beef was used and traded extensively from the 17th century to the mid-19th century for British civilian consumption and as provisions for the British naval fleets and North American armies due to its nonperishable nature. The product was also traded to the French, who used it in their colonies in the Caribbean as sustenance for both the colonists and enslaved labourers. The 17th century British industrial processes for corned beef did not distinguish between different cuts of beef beyond the tough and undesirable parts such as the beef necks and shanks. Rather, the grading was done by the weight of the cattle into "small beef", "cargo beef" and "best mess beef", the first being the worst and the last the best. Much of the undesirable portions and lower grades were traded to the French, while better parts were saved for consumption in Britain or her colonies.
Ireland produced a significant amount of the corned beef in the Atlantic trade from local cattle and salt imported from the Iberian Peninsula and southwestern France. Coastal cities, such as Dublin, Belfast and Cork, created vast beef curing and packing industries, with Cork producing half of Ireland's annual beef exports in 1668. Although the production and trade of corned beef as a commodity was a source of great wealth for the nations of Europe, in the colonies the product was looked upon with disdain due to its consumption by the poor and slaves.
The Celtic grazing lands of ... Ireland had been used to pasture cows for centuries. The British colonized ... the Irish, transforming much of their countryside into an extended grazing land to raise cattle for a hungry consumer market at home ... The British taste for beef had a devastating impact on the impoverished and disenfranchised [the] people of ... Ireland. Pushed off the best pasture land and forced to farm smaller plots of marginal land, the Irish turned to the potato, a crop that could be grown abundantly in less favourable soil. Eventually, cows took over much of Ireland, leaving the native population virtually dependent on the potato for survival.
Despite being a major producer of beef, most of the people of Ireland during this period consumed little of the meat produced, in either fresh or salted form, due to its prohibitive cost. This was because most of the farms and their produce were owned by wealthy Anglo-Irish landlords (many of whom were often absent) and most of the population were from families of poor tenant farmers, with most of the corned beef being marked for export.
The lack of beef or corned beef in the Irish diet was especially true in the north of Ireland and areas away from the major centres for corned beef production. However, individuals living in these production centres such as Cork did consume the product to a certain extent. The majority of Irish who resided in Ireland at the time mainly consumed dairy products and meats such as pork or salt pork, bacon and cabbage being a notable example of a traditional Irish meal.
Corned beef became a less important commodity in the 19th century Atlantic world, due in part to the abolition of slavery. Corned beef production and its canned form remained an important food source during the Second World War. Much of the canned corned beef came from Fray Bentos in Uruguay, with over 16 million cans exported in 1943. Today significant amounts of the global canned corned beef supply comes from South America. Approximately 80% of the global canned corned beef supply originates in Brazil.
Mark Kurlansky, in his book Salt, states that the Irish produced a salted beef around the Middle Ages that was the "forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef" and in the 17th century, the English named the Irish salted beef "corned beef". 041b061a72