It is that time of year again when we start thinking about cooking our Thanksgiving Day feasts. One of the most important steps I take is to brine my turkey. Since many of you may not be aware of brining, or what it can do for your meats, I wanted to put together some brining knowledge that I have acquired over the years. So here are some great tips for successful brining. What is brining? Brining is the process of curing meat or poultry by soaking it in a salty solution. Various herbs, spices, seasonings, and aromatics such as citrus oil can be added to the brine to create a flavored brine.
Why brine? Meat absorbs water and flavor as a result of soaking in the brine (osmosis). The meat actually gains weight as a result of the absorption. Brining also denatures the proteins in meats. The proteins actually hold onto the water molecules, keeping the meat moist. And if the water is flavored, the meat becomes flavored. The finished product is filled with moisture, flavor, and has protection from overcooking and drying out. When to brine? Brining is an effective treatment for lean meats such as poultry (turkey, chicken, Cornish hens) and pork (chops, tenderloins, pork butt), as well as some types of seafood such as shrimp. You can also brine meats before barbequing them – cooking low and slow can dry out the meat, and the brine helps to keep in the moisture. Why use Victoria Taylor’s Brining Blends? My Brining Blends make it easy to brine at home. Rather than buying and mixing a variety of salts, sugars, and spices, the home cook can simply combine the jar of my Brining Blend with water and ice to create a delicious brine. Another secret to my brines is the essential oils that are added to each formula. I have found that it is the essential oils more than anything else that really brings flavor to my brining mixtures. It is flavor you just can’t get if you make your own. How to brine One cup of my Brining Blend makes 1 gallon of brine, so you can make up to 2 gallons of brine with one jar. To make a gallon of brine, combine one cup of Brining Blend with 2 cups boiling water. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar, and to infuse the water with the essential oils. Add 3 cups ice to completely cool brine before adding meat. Place meat in container. Add an additional 12 cups of water. Refrigerate. Secrets for Brining Success
The amounts of Victoria Taylor’s Brining Blend required, and brining times, vary for the type and size of meat being brined. You also may need more or less brine depending on the container you use for brining the meat.
|Meat||Brining Blend Amount||Total Amount Brining Solution||Time|
|4-5 lb. pork loin||1 cup||1 gallon||6 – 24 hours|
|4 to 6 pork chops||1 cup||1 gallon||4 – 10 hours|
|Pork tenderloin||1/2 cup||1/2 gallon||4 – 12 hours|
|Pork Butt (6-8 pounds)||1 cup||1 gallon||8 – 12 hours|
|Whole turkey, 20+ pounds||3 cups||3 gallons||1 – 2 days|
|Whole turkey, less than 20 pounds||2 cups||2 gallons||12 hours – 2 days|
|Whole turkey breast||1 cup||1 gallon||6 – 12 hours|
|Whole chicken||1 cup||1 gallon||6 – 12 hours|
|8 to 10 chicken pieces||1 cup||1 gallon||30 – 90 minutes|
|4 to 6 chicken breasts||1 cup||1 gallon||30 – 60 minutes|
|1-2 lbs. shrimp||1 cup||1 gallon||20 – 40 minutes|
|Fish fillets||1 cup||1 gallon||10 – 30 minutes|