If you’re from the United States, chances are you’re familiar with both corned beef and spam.
Though corned beef and spam are commonly eaten foods, there are several key differences between the two.
When it comes to meat products, there are a lot of similarities between corned beef and spam.
Both are canned meats that are high in sodium and preservatives.
And both have been around for generations.
But what exactly are these two lunchtime staples?
What are the differences between them?
To better assist you in comprehending each item and how it is manufactured, we will examine some important differences in this post.
Table of Contents
What is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is made from brisket, a cut of meat located near the cow’s front legs.
This tough cut of meat is usually boiled or braised to make it tender enough to eat.
Corned beef is a type of pickled beef that is often served as cold cuts or in sandwiches.
The term “corned” refers to the large kosher salt crystals, or “corns,” used to cure beef.
These days, however, corned beef is typically cured with a mixture of salt, water, and spices.
Once properly cured, corned beef is usually boiled in water until it is cooked thoroughly.
It can then be eaten as it is or shredded and used in dishes like sandwiches, Corned Beef Hash, or Reuben salads.
Corned beef is most commonly associated with Irish-American cuisine in the United States.
However, in Ireland, bacon is much more popular than corned beef.
Corned beef was introduced to Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s, when low-income families could not afford to buy bacon or other pork products.
Corned beef is typically sold in cans or vacuum-sealed packages and has a shelf life of up to 2 years.
When buying corned beef, look for a product with little to no fat; otherwise, it will be too tough to eat.
What is Spam?
Spam is a canned luncheon meat made from pork shoulder and ham.
It gets its name from the process of “spicing and canning” the meat.
It consists of chopped pork shoulder meat cured with salt and some additional preservatives.
Spam also contains sodium nitrate, which gives it its characteristic pink color.
Spam was first introduced in 1937 by the Hormel Foods Corporation and became popular during World War II because it was shelf-stable and easy to transport.
Traditionally, spam is eaten cold or fried.
It can also be used as an ingredient in dishes like Spam Fried rice, Spam Musubi (a Hawaiian dish consisting of Spam sushi), and even Spaghetti SpamBolo (a dish made with ground Spam instead of ground beef).
It is canned and typically sold in 12-ounce cans.
Spam has a shelf life of up to 5 years.
When buying spam, look for a product with as little sodium as possible; otherwise, it will be too salty to eat.
What are the differences between Corned beef and Spam
Regarding canned meat, two products often get lumped together: corned beef and spam.
There are quite a few distinctions between the two, despite being both competitively priced and shelf-stable.
Here’s a breakdown of what sets corned beef and spam apart.
1. The Meat
The most apparent difference between corned beef and spam is the type of meat used.
Beef brisket is used to make corned beef after curing it in a brine (salt water) solution.
Spam is made with pork shoulder and ham that has been chopped and pressed into a mold.
This difference in ingredients gives each meat a distinct flavor.
Corned beef is typically salty with a hint of sweetness, while spam has a smoky flavor.
2. The Taste
If you’ve ever had corned beef, you know that it has a distinctly salty flavor.
That’s because of its curing process; the salt helps preserve the meat and give it a taste.
Spam, however, has a sweeter taste due to adding sugar during the canning process.
3. Curing Process
Another key difference between corned beef and spam is the curing process.
Corned beef is cured in a mix of salt, spices, and water.
This curing process allows the beef to retain its moisture, which leads to a tender texture.
Spam, on the other hand, is cured with salt and sodium nitrite.
This curing process gives spam its distinctive pink color.
But it also makes spam much saltier than corned beef.
4. The Texture
Another significant difference between these two canned types of meat is their textures.
Corned beef is usually tough and chewy, while spam is softer and more crumbly.
This distinction is created because spam is produced using minced meat pressed into a mold, whereas corned beef is produced using entire chunks of meat.
When it comes to uses, corned beef and spam are quite versatile.
Both can be eaten straight from the can or heated up and served as part of a dish; common dishes include corned beef hash and SPAM fried rice.
However, corned beef tends to be tougher and saltier than spam, so it’s often used in dishes where it will be cooked for a long time to break down the fibers, such as stews or chilis.
Spam, on the other hand, is often used as an ingredient in dishes where it will retain its shapes, such as SPAM musubi or SPAM tacos.
Also, corned beef is often served as an entree, while spam is more commonly used as an ingredient in other dishes like stir-fries or pasta dishes.
This difference is partly because corned beef has a more robust flavor that can stand independently, while spam is more subtle in taste.
Corned beef and Spam are both widely available in grocery stores.
However, corned beef is more commonly found in delis, while spam is commonly found in the canned meat aisle.
Corned beef and Spam are both reasonably affordable meats.
However, corned beef tends to be slightly more expensive than spam.
This is partly because corned beef is made with higher-quality cuts of meat.
Corned beef vs Spam: Are they the same?
So there you have it—a breakdown of some of the key differences between corned beef and spam.
Both are reasonably affordable canned meats used in various dishes; however, they differ in taste, texture, use, and preparation.
Corned beef and Spam are two types of meat that are often confused.
Both are canned meats that are high in sodium, but that’s where the similarities end.
Brisket (or another cattle cut) is used to make corned beef, whereas pork shoulder and ham make spam.
Corned beef is also cooked in water, while Spam does not need to be cooked before eating.
Corned beef is also saltier and tougher than spam, and it’s typically used in dishes where it will be cooked for a long time.
Spam, on the other hand, is sweeter and more crumbly, and it’s often used as an ingredient in dishes where it will retain its shape.
So next time you’re at the grocery store, grab the corned beef if you’re looking for a hearty entree, and grab the spam if you’re looking for a tasty ingredient for your stir-fry.
When buying either product, check the fat and sodium content label to ensure you’re getting a quality product.