To Brine or Not to Brine & my favorite recipe.

 

Before you decide whether to brine your bird or not you should decide what kind of turkey you are getting.*    You can get as fancy as you want with your brine, adding juice in place of some or all of the water, adding herbs and spices but there are a couple of things you should not mess with.

  • Type of Salt:  Kosher salt is the ONLY type of salt that should be used to make a brine. It is sweeter and more pure than ordinary table salt.   Regular table salt does not measure the same as Kosher salt and it will leave a very salty rather metallic taste to your final product.
  • Ratio of Salt to Liquid:  For the desired chemical effect to take place the ratio of salt to water must be 2/3 – 1 cup salt to each gallon of liquid.   A brine is not a marinade – the salt solution actually relaxes the very lean muscles structure of the meat allowing the meat to remain moist and tender.

*As I have said before, I only recommend brining All Natural turkeys.  The pre-basted turkeys have already been injected with a 8% salt solution.  All Natural turkeys are available both fresh and frozen.  Check out Count Down to Thanksgiving, selecting your bird.

If you are using sugar & apple juice in your brine, expect the skin to brown very quickly – tenting the turkey with foil will help to prevent over browning.  If you are planning to deep fry your turkey I suggest not using apple juice in your brine, use all water and omit the sugar.

I use a large stock pot to brine my turkey and I am also blessed with an extra refrigerator.  If you are tight on space you can use a turkey size oven bag to brine in and place it in a cooler on ice.  Remember, for food safety make sure the turkey and brine remain below 40° at all times.   They do sell brining bags but they run about $5.00 each.  What ever you decide to use make sure that is made of food grade material.   Do NOT use a trash bag!

Plan to brine your turkey for 24 hours, remove from brine and rinse well in cool water.  Stand the turkey upright in a large pot and return to the refrigerator to drip dry for 12 – 24 hours.   You will be amazed at how much liquid drains from the turkey, this step ensures a crispy skin.  Your turkey will roast rather than steam.

Brine for Turkey, Chicken and Pork
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This is a not a marinade. Brining is actually a chemical reaction that relaxes the very lean muscle structure of the meat. It makes it so juicy and tender you'll wonder why you would do it any other way!
Servings Prep Time
1gallon 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Servings Prep Time
1gallon 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Brine for Turkey, Chicken and Pork
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 2
Rating: 4
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
This is a not a marinade. Brining is actually a chemical reaction that relaxes the very lean muscle structure of the meat. It makes it so juicy and tender you'll wonder why you would do it any other way!
Servings Prep Time
1gallon 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Servings Prep Time
1gallon 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Ingredients
Servings: gallon
Units:
Instructions
  1. Measure the apple juice into a saucepan and bring to a boil with the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and orange rind. Stir to dissolve the salt.
  2. Remove from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes to develop the flavors, then add the ice water. Stir and allow to cool completely. Using ice cubes along with the water helps to speed up this process.
  3. Add the meat to the cooled brine. For pork chops brine in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Whole Chicken for 8 - 12 hours. For Turkey brine for up to 24 hours.
Recipe Notes

When preparing this brine for turkey, I don't add the brown sugar.  The sugar tends to make the turkey brown too fast, tenting with foil helps and the taste is great but the skin will have a burnt appearance.

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About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, “Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?” Hence my “name” Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don’t bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


Comments

To Brine or Not to Brine & my favorite recipe. — 26 Comments

    • Thanks for stopping in SoupySunny – let me know if there is anything I can help with. Tomorrow I will be putting up some of the side dishes that are required – most are already listed in the recipe index. Good luck with your first Thanksgiving turkey!

  1. BN, one more question…. in the instructions above, after brining you say: Stand the turkey upright in a large pot and return to the refrigerator to drip dry for 12 – 24 hours. While in the refrigerator, do you cover the turkey in any way? Or just let it “air dry” in the fridge w/ no cover for 12-24 hours….. thanks!!

    • Hi Lela. I actually use a vegetable peeler and peel the zest off an orange in big strips then store the zest in a baggie in the freezer. The kids really like oranges and I hate to throw the zest away when I know that down the road I will need some orange zest but have no oranges. It is really handy for when I am making orange chicken. The orange zest in the brine is great. Thanks for stopping in.

      • BN: I am giving very serious thought to trying this with BOTH pork loin roast and those lean and mean wild turkeys. So let’s talk about the details with regard to the pork. Pork loin roast has always been a dismal failure for me, so I need a lot of help. You say 2 hours for pork chops. How long for the roast? Does the pork need the drip dry process? What temperature for the oven? Roast on a rack or just in a pan? Roast until 145 degrees F? Let rest for 10 minutes?

        • Hi bikerfamily: Let’s talk pork. For the roast I brine for 12 – 24 hours. I usually just use a salt & water brine with a healthy dose of Montreal seasoning, although the apple juice is really good but I buy the big pork loins, cut it into roasts and chops and brine the whole lot. Remove from the brine, rinse off and just pat dry. You don’t have to do the drip dry procedure. Once good and dry, I wrap the chops individually in plastic wrap and then into a freezer bag. I do the same with the roasts.
          Now, about cooking that roast. My favorite way is to sear the roast stove top. Preheat the oven to 225. Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan, insert a probe thermometer (the kind with the wire leading out of the oven) and place into the 225 degree oven and slow roast to about 140. Shut off the oven and watch it closely – as soon as it is 145. Pull it out and let it rest. Delicious juicy and tender pork. Of course you could also just roast at 325 – 350 – pull the roast at about 135- 138 and let it rest tented. You don’t have to sear it this way BUT I think the pork is much better done low and slow.
          Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

  2. I am always leery of having to do the math before signing in! (I’m not good at it and always have to double check myself!) Anyway, I brined a turkey once—only once. I will have to maybe give it a try. I do like how you gave proportions for the folks because that is very important. I recently tried a recipe on AR that used dried herbs in the brine, and I thought it was excellent. I used it for one of Trader Joe’s kosher half turkey breasts http://allrecipes.com/recipe/thanksgiving-turkey-brine/detail.aspx

    Other than that I’ve really only brined pork. I think this year will be a good one for me to try your method since I think I’ll be doing two turkeys. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the results. But, as always, I appreciate very much your very informative instructions.

    • Hi Marianne. Aren’t those math problems a pain! I find them better than the letters you can’t decipher – I have to have either one or the other or I get 200 spam comments a DAY! The brine I posted is based on our favorite radio show gal, Melinda Lee’s brine. I have adjusted it to suit our tastes but she is right on the money with her salt to liquid ratio. The problem I have with the recipe you posted is the mention of a ‘bucket’ – lets just hope that bucket is a food grade bucket. Happy brining and Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  3. Such great advice. Orange has always brined our turkeys. Oh yeah, except that one year our boys begged him to deep fry them. (A whole other story) Anyway, he uses apple juice, water, kosher salt and his secret spices. Then before he roasts, he thoroughly rinses off, pat dry and layers bacon under the skin. I have never anywhere, anytime eaten a better turkey. Moist on the inside with crispy crusty perfectly browned skin. Jeez, I think I’m hungry! LOL! BTW, (and don’t judge me) I have never cooked a whole turkey.

    • Oh Candice! I have a feature coming up about frying…. ACK! Good thing he is a fireman! Orange and I have a similar approach, (I knew I liked him!) Oh, you don’t need to cook a turkey, you have Orange to do it for you. You can be in charge of the cupcakes! I will have to experiment with bacon under the skin – everything is better with bacon!

  4. hey baking nana! great topic. I have never brined. and i’m most curious about it. most of all the salt. does this affect the pan juices? will it be salty? can you still make gravy??? see I told you I was curious! LOL

    • Hi Weeble – yes you can still make pan juices. The drip dry process really does remove all the salty brine and the pan juices will be a beautiful dark color. Full of flavor and not too salty at all. When making the gravy, I don’t add any salt until the gravy is done and I can taste it. I made my own turkey broth and that is not salted either – then you can add salt to taste in the final product. Rinsing the bird well after brining and letting it drip dry is are important steps though. Thanks for stopping in.

  5. I’ll be cooking a whole bone-in turkey breast this year and was planning to brine it. I’ve never brined a turkey, but I’ve never had a failure on any of your recipes, so I’m certain this will be a winner, as well.

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