Corned Beef and Cabbage: How to Make the Brine

It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without corned beef and cabbage. Did you know the ‘corn’ is referring to salt ‘corns’? Interesting! (We don’t know what a ‘salt corn’ is, but this is a good bit of trivia.) We’re using a slight variation on Alton Brown’s recipe (minus the salt peter). If you’d like this in time for St. Patrick’s Day, then you could squeeze under the wire if you start making this today. Ideally, this marinates for ten days. Here’s how to make the brine.

Corned Beef Brining Ingredients
Corned Beef Brining Ingredients

In a large stockpot, boil 2 quarts of water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, a broken up cinnamon stick, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 8 whole cloves, 8 whole allspice berries, 12 whole juniper berries, 2 bay leaves (crumbled) and 1/2 tsp ground ginger.

Cook until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Then, pull it off the heat and add 2 pounds ice (or, do like we did and just refrigerate over night and then finish this in the morning).

Heating the Brine
Heating the Brine

Once the brine has cooled down to 45 degrees, put a 4 to 5 pound beef brisket in a 2 gallon zip lock bag and add the brine. We got our brisket at the Ballard Farmer’s Market in Seattle, from the good folks at Samish Bay Meat.

Samish Bay Meats at the Farmer's Market in Ballard
Samish Bay Meats at the Farmer's Market in Ballard

Seal it, lay it in a container, and refrigerate for ten days. Make sure the beef is completely submerged, and stir the brine each day.

All Zipped Up
All Zipped Up

We’ll be blogging again when the brisket is ready to cook.

<UPDATE> The brisket has been made! Here’s how to make corned beef and cabbage.


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup kosher slat
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • a broken up cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 pounds ice (or just use your fridge)
  • 4 to 5 pound beef brisket (trimmed)

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