Preserving meat took a lot of thought and effort on our 19th Century Characters or Ancestors. Below are some recipes for Pickling Beef. Don't think in terms of sweet or dill pickles. Remember pickling was a form of curing meat, as was salting and drying.
PICKLING BEEF —Rub a quarter of a pound of saltpetre and a little brown sugar on the beef; the following day season it with half a pound of bay salt, one ounce of black pepper, one ounce of allspice. Let the beef lie in pickle fourteen days, turning it every day, adding a little common salt three times per week ; then wash it, and put it into a glazed earthen pipkin, deep enough to cover it. Lay beef suet under it; add one pint of water, cover the top with paste and then paper, or with a plate instead of paste. Bake seven hours in an oven; pour off the liquor, but do not cut till cold. Will keep three months.
Source: The Godey's Lady's Book Receipts and Household Hints ©1870
RECIPE FOR PICKLING BEEF, PORK, OR MUTTON
4 gallons of water, 1% lbs. brown sugar, 2 oz. saltpetre, 5 lbs. alum salt. Put the whole into a kettle and let it boil, taking off the scum as it rises with care. When the scum ceases to rise, take it off the fire and let it get cold. Put the meat into the vessel in which it is to be kept and pour in the liquor until it is entirely covered. Beef preserved in this way is as good as if salted, but three days, at the end of 10 weeks. lf the meat is to be kept a long time, the pickle must be boiled and skimmed once in 2 weeks.
PICKLE FOR BEEF, MUTTON, OR PORK
8 gallons of water, 3 lbs. of sugar, 14 lb. saltpetre, 12 lbs. of salt. To be boiled and skimmed until no scum arises. Then pour it cold upon the meat.
PICKLE FOR BEEF
Pack down your beef, sprinkling some fine salt on the parts which come in contact with each other. Place a weight upon the beef and then cover it completely with the pickle made of the following preparations: 12 lbs. of fine Liverpool salt, 8 gallons of water, 1 lb. sugar, and 4 ozs. of saltpetre. Mix the pickle with cold water, skim it well and put it on cold.
l. S. Lewis to J. P. Norris, April 18th, 1822
6 gallons of water, 12 lbs. of salt, 5 oz. saltpetre, and 6 lbs. of brown sugar. Simmer them over the fire until the scum ceases to rise. This quantity is sufficient for 200 lbs. of beef. Let it stay in pickle 4 or 5 weeks and re-pack it once in that time.
M. Newbold, N. J.
MRS. R. COLEMAN'S RECIPE FOR
PICKLING BEEF OR PORK OF 90 LBS.
6 gallons of water, 9 lbs. of salt, (4y2 of fine and 4% of coarse salt), 3 lbs. brown sugar, 3 oz. saltpetre and 1 oz. of pearl ash. To be boiled and well skimmed and 1 quart of molasses.
90 LBS. OF BEEF OR PORK
The same as the above without the molasses. To be mixed with cold water and well boiled and skimmed.
1 gallon of water, 1% lbs. of salt, y2 lb. brown sugar, and % oz. saltpetre. Boil all together and skim it well. Then put it into a large tub to cool, and when perfectly cold, pour it over your beef or pork and let it remain in four weeks. The meat must be well covered and should not be put down for at least 2 days after killing during which time it should be slightly sprinkled with powdered saltpetre. Mrs. Brown
Source: Cook Book 1st Vol. ©1855
Will you please give me a good recipe for pickling beef—one that you know has been thoroughly tried!
Answer.—The following we know to be good: Cut the beef in convenient pieces and salt down as usual, adding a “pinch” of saltpeter to each piece. Let it remain in salt three days; then drain off the bloody brine formed by the salt, wipe each piece with a clean cloth and re-pack in the tub or other vessel used; a syrup or molasses cask will answer, but not a whisky barrel. For the brine, take as much water as will cover the beef; add salt until no more will disso‘ve; a tea-cup of ground saltpetre and a quart of molasses, or its equivalent of brown sugar. Boil and skim well. When the brine thus prepared is entirely cold, pour it over the beef and keep the latter well pressed under the brine. These proportions are for 200 pounds of beef. If the brine should mould in warm weather, reboil and skim it, adding half pound of cooking soda,and when cold return to the beef.
Source: The Southern Cultivator and Industrial Journal ©1888