A selection of original corned beef ration boxes the latest additions to our stock of unusual reclaimed items at Beeston Reclamation.
The history of corned beef goes back a long way in Britain, Ireland and the USA and the arrival of ration boxes tells us just how important it was to the war effort in the UK. While it may have lost some of its appeal today, corned beef was an important part of a soldiers rations from the Napoleonic wars right through to the first and second world war and beyond.
The term ‘corned’ sometimes leads people to think that corn is mixed in with the beef, however it explains the process of placing beef in a large crock and covering it with large rock-salt kernels to produce the end product.
While the Irish were happened to be the biggest exporters of corned beef between the 17th and 19th centuries, the corned beef ration boxes we have here at Beeston would have almost certainly contained corned beef imported from South America.
Back in the old days and even today, corned beef is used in sandwiches and in a variety of dishes including corned beef hash. Today 80% of the world’s corned beef has its origins in Brazil which overtook Uruguay as the leading exporter.