Prep Cook Yield Ready In
30 minutes 2 hours, 0 minutes 10 2 hours, 30 minutes

Pickled Beef Tongue

Sliced pickled tongue is delicious hot or cold, with prepared horseradish or grainy mustard.

Reprinted with permission from The Joy of Pickling, by Linda Ziedrich. Published by Harvard Common Press.
Jewish immigrants brought this recipe to the United States from Europe 150 years ago. The same recipe can be used with a 4-pound beef brisket. Saltpeter (potassium nitrate) helps preserve the color and flavor of cured meat, and also inhibits the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism. Another product that serves the same purpose is Insta Cure #1, a combination of salt and sodium nitrate.


3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons saltpeter or 3 1/2 tablespoons Insta Cure #1

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon ground clover

2 bay leaves, crumbled

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

4 lb beef tongue

3 Tablespoons pickling salt

1/2 cup warm water


Cut any excess fat from the tongue. Combine the salt, sugar, spices, and garlic, and rub the mixture well into the meat. Put the mean into a non-reactive container.

Dissolve the saltpeter in the warm water. Pour the water over the tongue, cover the tongue with a plate that fits inside the container, and weight it down with a large, well-washed stone or water-filled jug. Cover the container, and refrigerate it for 10 to 14 days, turning the tongue every two to three days.

When you’re ready to cook the tongue, put it into a large pot, cover it with cold water, bring the water to a boil, and drain the tongue. Repeat this process three times, using fresh water each time. Then cover the tongue with cold water again, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer the tongue for about two hours, or until it is tender.

Remove the tongue from the cooking water. Let it cool just a little, and then peel off the skin. Slice the tongue immediately if you want to serve it warm. If you’ll be serving it cold, let the tongue cool completely before you slice it.

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