Wet Brine

Brining is a process which is used on meat to enhance flavor, tenderness and help maintain moisture especially during long cooking sessions such as in smoking.

In its basic form, brine is simply a salt water solution. however a variety of aromatics and spices are added to the solution to add  additional subtle flavoring to the meat. contrary to what some people think, brining does Not add an increased “salty flavor” to meats.

The brining process can take anywhere from an hour (for fish) to a couple of days (for whole turkeys) depending on the size and density of the meat.

The chemistry behind brining is actually pretty simple. Meat already contains salt water. By immersing meats into a liquid with a higher concentration of salt, the brine is absorbed into the meat. Any flavoring added to the brine will be carried into the meat with the saltwater mixture. Because the meat is now loaded with extra moisture it will stay that way as it cooks.

  What You’ll Need

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 ½ cups salt (such as kosher. No iodine or additives)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar

  How It’s Done

  •   In a large pot, mix together the water, salt, garlic, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a slow boil then turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in a refrigerator until needed.
  •   (2 days before cooking the turkey) Place turkey in a large container or bag. **see tips below**.
  •   Pour brining solution into container until turkey is completely covered. Refrigerate for 2 days prior to cooking.
  •   When it is time to cook the bird, remove it from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry. Cook as desired.

Tips

  •   Several companies manufacture large zip-loc style bags specifically made for brining. Large roasting bags which are secured with a plastic tie can also be used.  You can  also use a small ice chest or a 5 gallon bucket. Just be sure that the bird is completely covered with the brine. 
  •   If using a plastic roasting bag or zip-loc style bag, secure the bag tightly and place it into a large pan with secured part of the bag on top to help steady the bird and avoid leaking. 
  •   There are MANY different brine recipes out there. The one I have here is a very good basic recipe. Feel free to add different aromatics (rosemary, thyme etc.) or spices such as cinnamon or allspice berries.   
  •   If you live in a cold climate it is fine to leave the bird in a garage or similar area instead of the refrigerator, as long as the temperature is maintained at about 38 degrees F.