Brining Tips and Information

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Brining Tips and Information

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

  • Refrigeration is required. The meat and brine solution must be kept refrigerated at 40° or below at all times.
  • It is suggested to keep to the recommendation of 1 cup brining blend to one gallon of water. If too little water is used the brine could be too salty – causing the meat to become too salty. In the same way, if the brine is not salty enough it will not do a good job of brining the meat, and you will not have the flavor and moisture you are looking for.
  • Thinner and smaller cuts of meat need less brining time than larger and thicker cuts.  When in doubt, brine on the low end of the time range.
  • Do not use the Brining Blend solution for injecting into your meats.

 

  • Pick a container with enough room, but not too much room.  Smaller items like shrimp or pork chops brine well in zip-top freezer bags.  Larger items like chickens can brine in a large non-reactive stockpot.  Turkeys may require a cooler or plastic bucket. If you use a container with a lot of space you will need to make a lot of brine to fill, so fit the meat to the container as best you can.
  • When brining large items in a plastic cooler replace about one third of the water with ice. The salt in the solution and the ice will help keep the meat at the right temperature.
  • Whenever possible use spring or bottled water for your brine.
  • Make sure that the brine mixture is completely cooled before adding meat.
  • Meat should stay completely submerged in brine.  If it floats to the top, weight it down with a plate or bowl.
    • No need to wash the meat after brining. Simply pat dry with paper towels.
    • It is best if you start cooking immediately after removing the meat from the brine. Allowing the brined meat to sit outside the brine causes it to lose some of its moisture.
    • Avoid salting brined meat while cooking.  Salt the finished dish to taste.
    • Brined meat cooks faster. Start checking for doneness about ¾ of the way through the normal cooking time.
    • The drippings from brined meats will be salty. If you plan to make a gravy do not add any additional salt.

     

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

Best, Victoria

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