How is corn used in making corned beef? It’s not! The closest that the beef comes to corn is that which the cow may have eaten. “Corn” is an old English term used for the word grain. As per AmazingRibs.com, it was used in the phrase of that era “A corn of salt” so it became synonymous with salt. So, what is happening is the meat is being cured with salt. At that time they didn’t have the luxury of refrigeration and so the corning process was used to preserve meats.