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.