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Kitchen Notes

Brining

by Michael Chu
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In several articles, I've mentioned the need to brine chicken or pork to produce juicier, more flavorful, and tender cooked meats. The net effect of brining is to infuse the meat with extra salt (and sometimes sugar and other flavorings) and water. But how does brining work? In this article, I examine what happens when you brine.

What does brining do?
Brining is the soaking of meat in a solution of water and salt. Additional flavorings like sugar and spices can also me added, but salt is what makes a brine a brine (just like acid makes a marinade a marinade). This soaking causes the meat to gain some saltiness and flavoring while plumping it up with water so that after cooking it still contains a lot of juices.

The explanation for why brining works that I hear most often is that by surrounding the meat with salt water, salt and water are forced into the tissue through osmosis. Unfortunately, I've never been happy with that explanation. Osmosis is when a solvent (usually water or other liquid that can hold another substance, called the solute, in solution - like salt) moves from a low solute concentration (like the tissue of the meat) to a high solute concentration (like the salt water) through a semipermeable membrane (a surface that allows small particles to pass but not larger ones - like the cell membranes of our chicken or pork) to form an equilibrium. Hmmm... wait a minute. If that's true then water will be drawn from the low salt concentration meat to the high salt concentration salt water. At the same time, if the salt can enter the meat (which it can), then salt will be moving from salt water to meat. Won't that result in a salty, dry piece of poultry or pork?

Obviously, there's more going on than simple osmosis. It is true that salt enters the meat (it tastes more salty after brining). But why is it also more juicy? Well, when water flows out of the meat, salt flows in and begins to break down some of the proteins in the cells. In the broken down state, the molecules become more concentrated and the solute levels rise within the meat. This causes additional water to flow into the meat.

But doesn't that mean we've got the same amount of water as before brining? Nope. The cell membranes are semipermeable. They allow salt and water to flow in both directions freely, but larger molecules (like the denatured proteins and other solutes in the meat released by the salt) cannot flow out from within the cells. When the solutes of a solution on one side of a semipermeable membrane cannot pass to the other side, osmosis causes more and more solvent to move through the semipermeable membrane. This continues until the extra pressure from holding more solvent equals the rate at which solvent is "drawn" through the semipermeable membrane. (This rate is called osmotic pressure. How Stuff Works has a short article describing osmotic pressure with a diagram that may be helpful to visualize the water flow.)

What has happened is that through brining, we've caused a state change in the cells so that they will draw and hold more water than before. As we cook the meat, the heated proteins will begin to draw in tighter and squeeze out water, but, hopefully, enough water will remain to produce a juicy, tender piece of meat.

Brining Solution
So, how much salt in water is used for brining? That really depends on how long of a brine you want and how salty you want the final product. A weak brine will require a longer brining time to achieve the same saltiness as a strong brine. When I need a moderate strength brine, I use 1/2 cup (about 150 g) of table salt per gallon of water (40 g per liter or 4% salt brine). (Higher concentrations of salt can be used to reduce brining times, but the amount of salt and the time it takes to brine is dependent on the muscle structure of the particular piece of meat.) Using kosher salt is a common practice, but different manufacturers grind the salt to different levels of coarseness, so kosher salt should be weighed before adding to water. For small amounts of salt, the salt can be dissolved into cold water, but for larger quantities it may be necessary to heat the water to dissolve the salt.

Brining Time
Always start with a cold brine. If you heated the brine, then refrigerate it before using it. The raw meat will be in the brine for a number of hours, so we don't want the temperature of the meat to rise higher than refrigerator temperatures (40°F, 4°C) if we can help it. Place the brine in a noncorrosive container like a plastic or glass container, plastic bag, or a stainless steel pot.

The brining time depends on the shape of your meat as well as the type of meat. Generally, a good rule of thumb is 2 hours per pound of solid poultry when using the 1/2 cup salt per gallon (40 g salt per liter; 4%) brine. Cut up poultry will have reduced brining time. For chicken pieces like breasts or thighs, 2 hours is usually enough time. Pork may take about four times as long to brine as poultry. In most cases, it's difficult to predict how fast the salt moves into the meat when you double or halve the salt in the brine, but it's worth experimenting with to have your brining "finish" at a time where you will be around to remove the meat from the brine.

When you remove the meat from the brine, rinse off the excess salt from the surface and return the meat to the refrigerator to await cooking. Pour out the brine after each brining. (No need to have a half gallon of raw meat juice infused salt water lying around growing germs...)

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Written by Michael Chu
Published on November 01, 2004 at 06:27 PM
98 comments on Brining:(Post a comment)

On August 30, 2005 at 01:15 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Just a quick question. Is this procedure basicaly the same for Brining Olives ? I have a few olives trees and they are fruiting rather splendidly after a bit of judicious pruning and what do you know I have a few kilos too play with.

-Christian
New Zealand


On August 30, 2005 at 01:16 AM, Michael Chu said...
It is possible to bring olives in a similar fashion. Use salt that is uniodinized and dissolve about 1/2 cup for each gallon of water. You probably won't need much water, so reduce the salt by the proportional amount.

Brining olives usually takes weeks. You'll probably need something to keep the olives under the salt water during the brining. Also, stir the olives once a week. After three or four weeks, the bitter taste of the olives should have reduced and they are considered brined or cured.

I think brined olives last about a month.

Good luck,
Michael


On August 30, 2005 at 01:16 AM, an anonymous reader said...
And what happens if you brine too long -- e.g. if I put the chicken in brine in the morning and take it out when I get home 9 hours later?


On August 30, 2005 at 01:16 AM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
And what happens if you brine too long -- e.g. if I put the chicken in brine in the morning and take it out when I get home 9 hours later?

If you brine too long, all that happens is that the meat becomes too salty. In most cases, it's difficult to brine the meat so much that it becomes unpalatable. If you do plan on having a longer brine, reduce the salt concentration in the water. Start by halving the concentration if you plan to double the brining time. This doesn't work perfectly, but is a good starting point. If the meat's not salty enough, then next time increase some salt content in the solution.

Michael


On August 30, 2005 at 01:17 AM, an anonymous reader said...
If you were a good eats fan, you'd all know this by now. Alton Brown owns the kitchen!


On August 30, 2005 at 01:18 AM, cynicalb_repost (guest) said...
Great explanation Michael. One comment - you imply to use non-iodized salts - I would like to emphasize the point that for brining, whether meats or for pickling, only use non-iodized salts, i.e. kosher or canning salt. Iodized salts imparts metallic flavors and will darken pickled vegetables.

Regarding olives - I ran across the following site:
http://www.oliveoilnews.com/olive_recipes_.htm
I was going to try curing olives this fall but never got around to it. I have brined pickles and the proportions are similar as to what Michael recommends, however the chemistry is different. For vegetables, the brining promotes lacto-fermentation, which preserves and flavors.


On August 30, 2005 at 01:18 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I may be a little late with this comment, but still curious.

How salty is the meat? I don't really like salty food (I add it to get some flavour, but I don't actually like a salty flavour). Would you recommend not adding extra salt to the dish if I wanted to avoid it being too salty?


On August 30, 2005 at 01:19 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: saltiness

When brined properly, the saltiness is just a bit less than if you salted the meat after cooking. Except, the salt will be distributed throughout the meat instead of clumped on the surface. You can attempt to reduce the saltiness by using less salt in the brine and brining for a slightly longer duration. Make sure you rinse off the meat after brining and pat dry.

I would suggest not adding additional salt if you dislike the flavor of salt. For almost all dishes, I would recommend at least reducing the salt that would have otherwise been added.


On August 30, 2005 at 01:19 AM, Nicco (guest) said...
If I remember chemistry 101, you're correct in your assupmtion that osmosis doesn't explain why brining works. One aspect that wasn't noted in the article is the basic reaction of salt on proteins, e.g. that salt denatures proteins, making them unbind and form looser bonds (that's why you can't add salt to the liquid in which you poach eggs).

I'd bet that the salt in the brininig solution helps to denature the proteins in meat, changing the osmotic properties of the cells, and allowing for a freer transfer of liquids (and flavorings).


On August 30, 2005 at 01:19 AM, an anonymous reader said...
You mention that if you had to heat up your brining solution, you should then refrigerate it to cool it down. Just thought I'd point out that putting a laarge container of hot water in your fridge is going to raise the temperature of your fridge, possibly into the prime bacterial growth range. Instead of popping it in the fridge, I'd recommend putting in the sink and surrounding it with ice to cool it down a bit.


On August 30, 2005 at 01:21 AM, Toby (guest) said...
OK,

Way late with this comment but just found this blog.

Michael, excellent explanation of brining. Tried it last Thanksgiving on the turkey and will never go back. Now I know how it works!

Any chance that we'll see a similar explanation for how Ceviche works?


On August 30, 2005 at 01:21 AM, Dorothy (guest) said...
A question: Some brining recipes call for sugar in addition to the salt. What does sugar do in the brining process and is it necessary?

Dorothy


On August 30, 2005 at 01:21 AM, an anonymous reader said...
When I was in school, someone accidentaly brined some veal chops too long and we soaked them in milk to remove some of the saltyness. It seemed to work, but I don't know why.


On August 30, 2005 at 01:22 AM, an anonymous reader said...
What about open grained meats like porkchops? I've had good luck with chicken breasts at a two hour soak, but I'm afraid of oversalting the chops.Also,if using herbs in the brine, how much is actualy absorbed?
I'm an EE not a chemist.


On September 28, 2005 at 02:34 AM, Steve-O (guest) said...
Subject: sugar
Dorothy: I brine my fish with 1/2 salt and 1/2 sugar to 2 quarts of water. It brines it, but not as salty. Fish is much more porous and the brine works faster. So it can get too salty very quick. The sugar reduces this risk. Never tried it with Turkey, but it should work.

Also consider injecting the meat to add juiciness if you don't like salt.


On September 28, 2005 at 05:46 AM, Smillie - OzFire said...
After brining, I usualy marinade for a few hours also, the brining open the meat up for aditional flaviours.

and before cooking, using a syringe I inject clarified butter, olive oil and or marinade... depending on the dish... Great prepearation for smoking..

For smoking try chinese green tea.... along with your woods :shock:


On October 10, 2005 at 12:43 PM, brubar (guest) said...
Subject: Brining
I brine chicken, turkey and pork chops routinely. In reply to the question above, I brine 3/4-inch-thick chops for two (sometimes 3) hours, season them with Emeril Legasse's BAM, and grill them over high heat resulting in the doneness we desire with no discernable salt flavor. Hmmmm...


On December 06, 2005 at 04:02 AM, Rebus (guest) said...
Subject: Salt does react with the protiens
I remember hearing about brining just a couple of months ago on the pbs show americas test Kitchen. The explanation that they gave was there was some sort or reaction or alteration the the salt did the the proteins. This sort of spread out the protiens and aloud water to wedge in between the protiens. According to them it will work with any meat. They also mentioned that it is very important to not let the temp of the brining solution to stay a room temp or bacteria will grow and nasty taste


On December 13, 2005 at 09:02 PM, the_bleachman said...
I have been brining various meats for some time and the difference in taste is amazing. Two and a half to three pound chickens can be brined whole over night with great results, or if split for at least five or six hours.

A twelve pound turkey takes at least a day (24 hours) and longer doesn't hurt. Always rinse well inside and out to remove excess salt.

Pork chops take about three hours and if cooked slowly over a smokey fire will turn a beatiful pinkish color as they cook. Whole pork roasts can be brined like a turkey and cooked slowly.

I brine in a salt solution with a small amount of sugar added.


On December 13, 2005 at 11:24 PM, Sarah (guest) said...
Regarding the issue of raising the temp of the fridge with a large container of hot or warm water: there's no reason to heat up the entire amount of brining liquid. If the goal is to dissolve large amounts of salt, just warm a small portion of the water, dissolve the salt, etc., in it, and then add it to the larger amount of cold water. A gallon of cold water will stay pretty cold with only a cup or two of warm-to-hot brining liquid added to it. And time and energy saved all around.

Thanks for this great post on brining.


On December 14, 2005 at 02:22 PM, the_bleachman said...
Yes, well... one thing to keep in mind is that one never brines in hot or warm water. If you mix your brining solution hot, you must allow it to cool off before putting the meat in it, otherwise you will raise the temperature of the meat. If the solution were hot when you placed the meat in it you would actually start cooking the meat in the brining solution, a big no-no for several reasons.

1. It makes your prospective barbecue taste crappy!
2. The raising and subsequent lowering of the temp would facilitate the growth of some really skanky, nasty bacteria.

Always brine in cold brining solution. Not sure of the exact amount, but cold water should be able to hold a mixture of about 15% salt (by weight %) which is certainly sufficient to brine just about anything. (By the way, hot water will hold about 26 wt.% salt depending on water hardness and mineral content). If you mix in hot water, and then dilute that into cold water to lower the temp, you have just defeated the purpose for mixing salt in hot water to start with because not only are you lowering the temp, but also the concentration of salt. Therefore, it is more sensible, to mix as concentrated solution as possible in COLD water to start with and forget all about mixing in a hot solution.


On December 20, 2005 at 04:19 AM, Neil - Australia (guest) said...
Subject: Brining Solution
I would suggest adding salt to an ice-water mixture. The salt will help to melt the ice and simultaneously reduce the water temperature. I'm going to try brining the bird this Xmas, probably in a large plastic paint container (about $5 from the hardware store complete with a lid). Ice is cheap, but the fridge is small - the container will sit in the laundry sink, which will also be iced down - and the perfect receptacle for beer on Xmas Eve.


On December 25, 2005 at 07:24 AM, Nick (Guest) (guest) said...
Subject: Brining
Hi,
I have brined birds of various sizes as follows with excellent results:

MAKE THE BRINE

I used a cup of salt, a cup of brown sugar, a few bay leaves a handfull of pepper corns and a few fat slices of orange and a lemon slice. I have not ever had to heat the brine to dissolve the sugar and salt, but if you do or you really want to just don't put the other stuff in (or use it) until it has cooled for obvious reasons. A little less than a gallon water is what I usually use.

BRINE THE BIRD

Once you have the chilled seasoned brine ready put the turkey in the brine, for an absolute minimum of 3-4 hours, and overnight is best. I have brined turkeys for up to 24 hours and it never has tasted the least bit over-salty. Make sure it is all covered with the brine. The brine should taste like salty sweet seasoned water, but not really intense.

LET IT CHILL & REST

One thing I didnt see is previously in this area is the resting phase. After you take the bird out of the brine rinse it very thoroughly and then pat-dry inside and out with extra strength paper towels. At this point you must let the bird "rest" with no covering at all, and no seasonings at all, in the fridge. This open air chilling and resting period should not be skipped, as it will taste much better if you do it. You should let it sit for at least 12 hours but 24 hours is fine, I wouldn't go much over 24 hours. Mop up any liquid present under the turkey once or twice during the resting period.


ROAST THE BIRD

Season to taste, prepare and roast as you would normally do, which is another story altogether and beyond the scope of this post.

This method of brining has produced some of the most tender succulent turkey I have ever tasted, and is never salty tasting. It is true there is a slight increase in the saltiness when you brine, because that is what it is, but it is not in any way a bad thing. I would think if you tripled the salt you might have a problem, but with this recipe I have never had anything other than delicious results.
I also liked the "Good Eats" show on turkey brining. It was, as always, a great show, and very detailed. Alton Brown covers the details of the method with info about what is really going on, on a chemical and cellular level and was very informative. I highly recommend watching it.

Nick


On January 04, 2006 at 06:13 PM, Guest Eric (guest) said...
Subject: Brining and Jaccard
The Jaccard is for tenderizing meat. It pierces it with a bunch of sharp little blades. Would it be a good or a bad thing to do this before brining?


On January 04, 2006 at 08:21 PM, foodscigeek said...
Subject: Brining and Jaccard
It won't hurt to tenderize the meat before brining, and it may speed up the process a bit, but you still want to brine for a couple of hours (depending on the cut). Mechanically piercing the meat will get the brine deeper in the meat, but not infuse it consistently without some time. This is why injecting alone doesn't do it. In meat processing (where permitted), the meat is often injected with the brine, and tumbled with additional brine under vacuum. That really speeds up the process.


On January 16, 2006 at 05:15 PM, russ (guest) said...
Subject: brining fluids
Does anyone have comments on using stock (vegtable) for
the brining solution as opposed to water? I've brined once
with stock and the results were amazing, but if water will
suffice, the cost will be reduced significantly.


On January 22, 2006 at 12:29 PM, Ken (guest) said...
Subject: Brining With Stock
I've never used stock, but have brined poultry for years with excellent results. I use 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of suagr to a gallon of water and brine whole turkeys or chickens overnight. I also stuff with sliced lemon and poultry seasoning before roasting. I see no need to go through the expense of using broth.


On January 23, 2006 at 04:12 PM, Byron (guest) said...
Subject: Osmosis
Perhaps I'm wrong, and simply misremember my chemistry, but regarding the way osmosis works: You mention that the solvent flows from an area of low solute (meat) to an area of high solute (salt water) to create equilibrium.

Doesn't it work the other way around? Doesn't the solvent move from high solute (salt water) to low solute (meat) so that both areas contain an equal concentration of solute, thus pulling water and salt into the meat to create an equilibrium?


On January 23, 2006 at 05:04 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Osmosis
Byron wrote:
Perhaps I'm wrong, and simply misremember my chemistry, but regarding the way osmosis works: You mention that the solvent flows from an area of low solute (meat) to an area of high solute (salt water) to create equilibrium.

Doesn't it work the other way around? Doesn't the solvent move from high solute (salt water) to low solute (meat) so that both areas contain an equal concentration of solute, thus pulling water and salt into the meat to create an equilibrium?

You're partially right. In the absense of a semi-permeable membrane, the solvent moves from the low solute region to the high solute region AND the solute moves from the high solute region into the low solute region until equilibrium is achieved (diffusion). However, if you have something stopping the solute from entering the low solute region, but allows the solvent to move freely (i.e., a semipermeable membrane such as cellular walls), then osmosis occurs. Solvent moves out of the low solute area to the high solute.


On January 24, 2006 at 06:31 PM, Runa (guest) said...
Subject: Poultry safe enough?
Here I can see that there are many mouth watering dishes that have been explained in detail which also includes the use of poultry. Now with the advent of the bird flu which I think all the others here are also well aware can it be regarded safe to take poultry in our diets? Moreover I came across a page in the internet http://www.drugdelivery.ca/s3353-s-TAMIFLU.aspx where the tamiflu drug the only one drug effective against the bird flu has been discussed, so do the poultries also required to be administered with this drug? or can we still enjoy our dishes?


On June 19, 2006 at 11:17 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Brining- Container and Temperature
I've been brining the T'day bird for 7-8 years. I initially used a 5 gallon bucket, the familiar ex-dry compound container, and ziplock type bags of ice.
I replaced the bucket with a large Igloo cooler, the cyclinder model for liquids with spout at the bottom and a round lid that comes comepletely off; I think this is the 5 gallon model that you see at virtually every construction site, frequently mounted on a truck. I've had a 15# turkey in mine but I don't think I'd go much bigger.
Chill turkey and 3 gallons of supermarket drinking water to temperature in fridge; dump 2 gallons water in the cooler, mix your brine in the cooler, immerse turkey, top off with additional cold water if needed. Put cooler lid on and brine as long as you choose. It'll be just as cold after 12 hours.
I've never had any particular problem dissolving the brine in the chilled water; just have to stir like madd!


On July 05, 2006 at 04:35 AM, eltonyo said...
I dunno... I have always been bothered by the explanations of brining and how they work "against" the natural laws of osmosis.

I have also tried several experiments in this regard, and can conclude nothing for certain.. (most people always "conclude" that their method of brining was a success, with no real statistical basis whatsoever, other than a severe "attitude" that their cooking is superior.... go figure that one!)

I have tried as little as 2 TBL of salt per half gallon of water, and have noted no real difference from using a half a cup!

I say the whole "brining" action is hogwash "relative" to just physically injecting your chicken with a salty/sweet fluid (i.e. apple juice, sugar, and spices), and not even bothering with the lengthy, and uncertain, arguments of brining. Hell... injecting is REAL (no "osmosis" required).... you can watch it swell, and bleed with juices. Brining is slow, and unpredictable based on Ph and timing.

I say "Inject" in lieu of brining. Brining is for old-school-die-hard-fools... (the same people who tell us to NOT season our meat before we cook it, cuz it will draw our the juices... all proven hogwash!)

And don't even get me started on the correct temperature to grill/roast a chicken... cuz that's the "real" science! (and i ain't tell'in!)

Want juices? ... I got your juices! :)

p.s. You can show me all the hype and articles you want about brining, but all of the big time BBQ contest winners love to "inject". America loves the direct injection. (Any Turkey that is not "Plumped" with juices, is a loser when compared to others.... when taste tested... NO BRINING INVOLVED!)


On August 24, 2006 at 11:56 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Choice Tidbits from "On Food and Cooking"
pg 155 ff: "A 3% salt solution [...] dissolves parts of the protein structure that supports the contracting filaments, and a 5.5% solution [...] partly dissolves the filaments themselves. Second, the intereactions of salt and proteins result in a greater water-holding capacity in the muscle cells, which then absorb water from the brine."

150 g in 1 gallon of water is about 4.0% solution, 110 g is a 3% solution and 210 g is about 5.5%.


On September 04, 2006 at 12:47 AM, MSE (guest) said...
Subject: stainless + Cl = corrosion
Note that stainless steel does corrode in the presence of chlorine ions. Not sure if the amount of salt in brine is enough to do any real damage, but definitely sea water will.


On September 04, 2006 at 04:35 PM, Steve said...
Subject: problems with brining hypothesis
I have also been bothered by the explanations normally given for how brining results in a moister piece of meat.
The biggest problem I see with what I will call the *osmotic hypothesis* is that a piece of meat is not encased in a semipermeable membrane. In the case of a whole bird the layer of skin may work as one, but chops certainly aren not encased in a membrane.
At the cellular level, cells are not dialysis bags. They have large numbers of channels that allow ions to move in and out. In a living cell the ionic gradient is preserved through pumps, pumps that do not work in a dead cell. Dead cells are very porous to ions even though their phospholipids bilayer may still be intact.
Also, I am unaware of a mechanism for salt to *break down* proteins, which sounds like proteolysis. Denaturing itself will not effect solute concentration, although opening a protein may expose regions to proteolytic attact that might otherwise be shielded. The presence of salt ions around proteins will likely partially denature the proteins (depending on ionic concentration and the protein itself); quaternary structure being the most likely to be affected, followed by tertiary and secondary structures. However I think it doubtful that primary structure is going to be affected by brining, that would not really be denaturing anymore but rather proteolysis. Contrast with the tenderizing effect of yogurt as in tandoori chicken. Dairy tenderizing is probably due to the calcium-dependant calpain proteolytic enzyme. In short, if salt broke down proteins the resulting piece of meat would be tenderized, not just juicier. I realize that many say that brined meats are more tender but I consider that to be from the increased water in the meat that makes it seem more tender. I have never known a brined meat to get over-tenderized as can happen with papain or yogurt marinades.
The actual reason why brining results in a moister piece of meat probably has less to do with 8th grade science class than most people think. Meats have space between its constituent parts where water and salt can collect. A piece of cloth dropped in a salt water bath will come out moist and salty without the benefit of a semi-permeable membrane or denatured proteins.
Steve


On October 26, 2006 at 11:14 AM, Lintballoon said...
Subject: Brining and freezer burn
Hello,
I have some chops with freezer burn. I was wondering if brining the (lamb) chops would improve them. I am also thinking of grinding the meat and making a meatloaf with it.
Any advice?


On October 26, 2006 at 04:33 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Brining and freezer burn
Lintballoon wrote:
I have some chops with freezer burn. I was wondering if brining the (lamb) chops would improve them. I am also thinking of grinding the meat and making a meatloaf with it.

Brining might improve them, but not to the point where you'll want to eat the burned parts. If you're going to grind it, then remove the burned areas and grind the parts that are still meat-like.


On November 02, 2006 at 04:20 PM, Patrick (guest) said...
Runa asked:

Quote:
Here I can see that there are many mouth watering dishes that have been explained in detail which also includes the use of poultry. Now with the advent of the bird flu which I think all the others here are also well aware can it be regarded safe to take poultry in our diets? Moreover I came across a page in the internet http://www.drugdelivery.ca/s3353-s-TAMIFLU.aspx where the tamiflu drug the only one drug effective against the bird flu has been discussed, so do the poultries also required to be administered with this drug? or can we still enjoy our dishes?


The concensus of essentially all food safety organizations is that there is no food safety risk from avian flu. The normal food safety precautions taken with poultry -- which are mainly aimed at eliminting bacteria rather than viruses-- would be sufficient to inactivate the virus, if it were present. Moreover, it is far from clear that orally consuming infected poultry would transmit to virus to humans. Most likely the virus, orally consumed, would simply be enzymatically destroyed before it could ever reach the target cells it specializes in infecting.


On February 09, 2007 at 11:55 AM, Horst said...
Subject: brining for engineers
It's amazing what you do to your food before meal. Those rituals, those theories! We in the Wild East just chomp down what we caught and go on catching.

Nevertheless, what I remember from various 101's some 50 years ago:

(a) What salt? Anything but the road salt is just salt, differences being in the story on the label and on the price tag. Of course the Jew should not use the halaal salt and muslim the kosher variety but otherwise...

(b) What temperature when making the brine? Just what came from the tap. The salt (NaCl) is rather special that its solubility does not much change with temperature and is about 37 gm of salt per 100 gm of water, which is far beyond anything you need in the brine for your turkey. Heating up would speed up dissolving but will also ask for additional time to cool the brine.

(c) Brining theory: You may forget about membranes as regards water and salt alike. If you would brine long enough, you will get the same salt concentration in meat juice everywhere in the meat as in the brine, which won't be the original concentration of the brine but something lower (salt divided between the remaining brine and meat) satisfying the mass balance of your brining container. If you brine for shorter time, the "everywhere in the meat" part wouldn't have time enough to happen. Time to get reasonably close to this "infinity" changes in inverse proportion with the square of the meat slab thickness. Therefore 1 hour for the 3/4" chicken breast chop and 24 hours for the whole turkey.


On May 28, 2007 at 08:05 PM, btavshan said...
Subject: "Mechanism" of Brining
Thinking from the point of view of my chemist's intuition, this is my conclusion about brining:

We all know that taking some sort of living tissue (or hands and feet) and soaking it in distilled water will make it swell because the concentration of solute is greater inside our cells than in distilled water. This is partly because our cells have high protein concentrations as well as active transport mechanisms which keep relatively high concentrations of salt inside our cells.

Now, cells maintain most protein-like constituents as large macromolecular complexes, mostly because this helps reduce the osmotic pressure they have to deal with. This is because osmotic pressure is a colligative property--meaning that it's determined by the total number of solute molecules ("molality") rather than their size (so a big complex of 20 different proteins counts only as "one" solute molecule).

As any biochemist will tell you, increasing salt concentrations interferes with protein-protein interactions needed to make macromolecular complexes (I think some people call this "denaturing", but that's not the normal sense in which denaturing is thought of, since salt usually leaves the tertiary structure of proteins intact). So in high salt, the effective "number" of proteins goes up, because the complexes dissociate (since there is no active transport anymore, salt can freely diffuse into the cells).

Note that the individual components of these complexes (proteins are typically larger than say, a few kilodaltons) are still too large to diffuse out of cells. Thus, treating with salt makes the solute concentration in cells go up, causing the net movement of water into the cell to be nonnegative.

The sort of salt concentration needed to see the dissociation effect biochemically is typically around 500mM salt concentration (150mM being roughly physiological). 150g salt in 1 gallon (3.78 L) is 680 mM.

Based off of this line of reasoning, it's apparent that soaking meat in plain distilled water would also cause a net uptake of H2O. Salt would just allow a greater water uptake.


On May 29, 2007 at 08:37 PM, Lisa (guest) said...
Subject: Brining for engineers
A fascinating discussion, all to help me understand the admittedly empirical and untheoretical observation that a brined turkey is a much tastier and more moist turkey (as supported by my unsuspecting blind-taste-tester family members, who don't even know what brining is).
Regarding the brine-temperature issue, I've found that saturating about 2 cups of freshly-boiled water with table salt (i.e. adding salt until no more dissolves), then adding this solution to enough cold tap water to just cover a 15 lbs turkey in a 5-gallon paint bucket, is plenty salty enough to adequately brine a turkey overnight. "Diluting" hot brine in cold water does not defeat the purpose, as some people have pointed out that salt only speeds up the process of moisture uptake. I've found this method an effective and speedy way of getting a cold solution for my turkey, for those who are impatient (like me) or in a hurry. Seems like it would work for making an injection solution as well.


On June 11, 2007 at 07:23 PM, Nick Robinson (guest) said...
Subject: Using a Foodsaver for brining
If you want to speed up the brining process (or use less salt), use a Foodsaver (those vacuum machines with which you can make vacuum sealed bags or remove the air from containers.)

I used one a few times, and they work at frightening speed--a pound of chicken was brined in 20 minutes. I actually forgot to remove the chicken once and left it for an hour and it was inedibly salty.

The Foodsaver will do this with any marinade as well. Highly recommended.

nick@montrealfood.com


On June 17, 2007 at 11:50 PM, Adam J (guest) said...
Subject: Cooling the Brine
I have the luxury of a bar-style beer cooler that I can use to cool my brines without worrying about bacteria & other foods... BUT... here's a quick and dirty method that I have used as recently as 30 minutes ago!

Throw some ice into a large, Ziplock bag and place it in your brining vessel off of the stove, after warming... of course). You can stir the brine around to speed up the process and you can repeat if the ice melts and you still need to reduce the temp. further. The liquid chills rapidly without adding more water to the mix.

Don't want to waste the bag? Dump the ice (now water) and add your chicken breasts, etc. Fill with brine and Zip 'er up!


On June 28, 2007 at 03:41 PM, sherry (guest) said...
Subject: osmosis
osmosis moves things from HIGH to LOW concentration, down the concentration gradient. therefore this method makes perfect sense


On August 23, 2007 at 03:41 AM, benzer (guest) said...
Subject: freezing after brining
has anyone frozen meats for later cooking after brining them?
if so, how were the results?


On August 24, 2007 at 10:39 AM, Tucson (guest) said...
Subject: Brined vs cured
what is the differnce in procedure and chemistry between a brined meat and a cured meat i.e. corned beef?


On August 30, 2007 at 06:30 AM, Steamy Kitchen (guest) said...
Subject: Salt Curing
Thanks for the info on brining. I've got a theory I'd like you to look at re: 1 hour salt curing of steaks.

I don't brine steaks, but I salt-cure them for 1 hour per inch. It works superbly, but I've been trying to figure out why.

Thoughts?

http://steamykitchen.com/blog/2007/08/28/how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-prime-steaks/


On September 19, 2007 at 11:33 PM, Nathan (guest) said...
Subject: Brining Kosher meat
Kosher meat is heavily salted to leech out the liquid (blood) in meat. The result is a much drier-looking piece of meat. (I've never tasted the non-kosher kind, so I have only looks to go by). Even though the salt has been rinsed off the outside, it can have a somewhat salty taste.

Question: Would brining add juiciness to kosher meat, which already has salt in it? If so, should the salt concentration in the water be reduced? enlarged? For that matter, could soaking with plain water be used to draw out some of the remaining salt in the meat?


On September 19, 2007 at 11:53 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Brining Kosher meat
Nathan wrote:
Question: Would brining add juiciness to kosher meat, which already has salt in it? If so, should the salt concentration in the water be reduced? enlarged? For that matter, could soaking with plain water be used to draw out some of the remaining salt in the meat?

That's a good question - generally it's not advisable to brine kosher meats since you'll increase the salt concentration (the salt water would be higher concentration than the salt concentration in the meat). Soaking in pure water (or very lightly salted water) might help - but I really can't say if the water will be drawn into the meat. My guess is yes.


On November 07, 2007 at 12:40 AM, chefswartz (guest) said...
Subject: brining
when i make a brine i reduce the amount of water by half infuse with my aromatics by sauteeing 1st then boiling the heck out of it. Then I add the other half of water in the form of ice. This give me my flavor infusion without worrying me about Time/Temperature abuse.


On November 14, 2007 at 06:41 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: Brine for a large turkey
I am assuming that the formula for a brine has nothing to do with the size of turkey, it has everything to do with the ratio of salt to water, if this is correct then I just need to figure out how much liquid it will take to cover this 25 pound turkey then apply the 1 cup of Kosher salt to 1 gallon of water formula. Is this correct? If not please correct my thinking. Thanks


On November 14, 2007 at 11:54 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Brine for a large turkey
guest wrote:
I am assuming that the formula for a brine has nothing to do with the size of turkey, it has everything to do with the ratio of salt to water, if this is correct then I just need to figure out how much liquid it will take to cover this 25 pound turkey then apply the 1 cup of Kosher salt to 1 gallon of water formula. Is this correct?

That is correct.


On November 18, 2007 at 07:28 PM, May Fran (guest) said...
Subject: Brining a turkey
How do you determine how much brine is needed for a turkey? Mine will be on the small side, probably around 14 pounds.


On November 18, 2007 at 07:57 PM, GaryProtein said...
Just mix up enough to completely immerse the bird in the pot.


On November 19, 2007 at 03:25 AM, ray rpn (guest) said...
Subject: turkey brining bags
has any one used turkey brining bags? Does one have to turn the turkey more often when using a turkey brining bag


On April 30, 2008 at 04:11 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Brining turkey
So what would happen if we soaked a brined & rinsed turkey in distilled water? Would the increased salt level in the turkey cells suck in the distilled water via osmosis until we have the juicyest turkey in the history of mankind?


On July 26, 2008 at 08:21 AM, wilson (guest) said...
Subject: brining or marinade, or both for rotisserie chicken
can you add typical brining solution with your marinade(white wine base). my white wine marinade with cumin, garlic, pepper, etc does not add moisture. Correct? only flavor. sometime chicken seem rubbery but taste really good. would you suggest combining both mixtures? I marinade my chicken for up to 3 days. Could I do it with combo?


On July 26, 2008 at 07:38 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: brining or marinade, or both for rotisserie chicken
wilson wrote:
can you add typical brining solution with your marinade(white wine base). my white wine marinade with cumin, garlic, pepper, etc does not add moisture. Correct? only flavor. sometime chicken seem rubbery but taste really good. would you suggest combining both mixtures? I marinade my chicken for up to 3 days. Could I do it with combo?

You can combine both, just add some more salt to your marinade. Since you marinade for 3 days, I'd add only a little more salt to your marinade. If it's not enough, then add some more...


On November 17, 2008 at 07:00 AM, Howard said...
Subject: Quick note
A search for "brine" on the main page will not show this page as a result.


On November 17, 2008 at 02:52 PM, msjayhawk (guest) said...
Subject: Brining Length
I typically brine a turkey in a solution a little less salty than seawater for 3-4 days. I use Zatarain's Seafood Boil Salt and Brown Sugar. Just wonderful.....


On November 23, 2008 at 05:35 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Brining a turkey with sugar
I read this entire thread thoroughly, and while someone mentioned brining a fish with the sugar did not ruin the fish, I am really interested in turkeys. I do not want to ruin our Thanksgiving turkey, so if anyone has brined their turkey with sugar (most basic recipes I have read are 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar per 1 gallon of water) please tell me if the turkey tastes sweet. I don't really want a sweet turkey, nor an overly salty one, but a moist and tender turkey would be fabulous.


On November 23, 2008 at 08:26 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Brining a turkey with sugar
Anonymous wrote:
I do not want to ruin our Thanksgiving turkey, so if anyone has brined their turkey with sugar (most basic recipes I have read are 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar per 1 gallon of water) please tell me if the turkey tastes sweet. I don't really want a sweet turkey, nor an overly salty one, but a moist and tender turkey would be fabulous.

I personally don't find the sugar necessary in the brine. I generally use 1 cup table salt to 1 gallon water concentration for about 4 hours for my turkeys.


On November 26, 2008 at 03:18 PM, brad (guest) said...
Subject: brine process
I am using martha stewart recipe for brining from her website which consists of 3 cups salt,5 cups sugar,carrots,onions,celery,spices,and 10 cups water and let it soak immersed for 24 hours.sounds good,but my only concern is the after process off letting it sit for 2 hours at room temperature.I went through cooking school years back and remember the utmost important rule of cooking.4 hours meat sitting in temperatures between 40-140 degrees is a danger zone.and that doesnt mean 4 hours at one time,four consecutive hours.so my question to anyone is it just as fine to let it sit for the 2 hours after the brining is complete into the fridge?
happy thanksgiving all


On November 26, 2008 at 07:24 PM, Dilbert said...
STOP! immediately check you sources.

the salt sugar water ratio is like way off the scale!

I'm not able to follow the logic of the question regarding time in the danger zone, but you should treat it as cumulative time. cold slows down bacterial growth - if you got a big colony of nastie baccies - re-refrigerating does not help....


On November 26, 2008 at 07:51 PM, brad (guest) said...
Subject: recipe
i got the recipe here:

http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/mslo/menuitem.fc77a0dbc44dd1611e3bf410b5900aa0/?vgnextoid=017a40ee0c90f010VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=f76b0edafa588110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&rsc=menu_food&lnc=b4995e998467c110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD



i dont know,hope its ok?


On November 26, 2008 at 08:58 PM, Dilbert said...
Brad -

see also :http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/turkey-brine-from-living?lnc=5a79cf380e1dd010VgnVCM1000005b09a00aRCRD&rsc=recipecontent_food

3 cups of salt to 10 cups of water is extreme suspect.

more typically it's one cup salt to one gallon of water - something's very fishy there.


On November 26, 2008 at 10:12 PM, Michael Chu said...
I agree... three cups (even if it's "coarse salt") is way too much salt for 10 cups of water and a 24 hour brine.


On December 06, 2008 at 11:28 PM, TONY (guest) said...
Subject: When it gets too salty...
Just a thought, but my family used to get double cured hams that were extremely salty if cooked before they were soaked in fresh water overnight. If the meat is brined too long (and is now too salty) perhaps a resoaking in fresh water would save your meat.


On February 06, 2009 at 06:54 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Does brining work for beef and other meats? Or Seafood?


On February 06, 2009 at 05:40 PM, Dilbert said...
>>Does brining work for beef and other meats? Or Seafood?

from a technical standpoint, it should - I've never heard anything to indicate chicken meat cells are vastly different from other meat cells and so "it doesn't work" . . .

the question might be: "why?" poultry is selectively bred to be very lean - that lack of fat in the meat can result in dryness when cooked.

fish have natural oils, some species more than others, which keeps them moister (when not over cooked) and even lean beef has more fat that chicken. pork is one that can get dry.

marinating beef / pork is not uncommon - typically for "flavor" but marinates usually have a salt component, the liquids usually are acid based but do contain water. one could argue as to whether a marinate is not also "brining" the meat.


On February 07, 2009 at 07:06 PM, an anonymous reader said...
For what it's worth, increasing the temperature of the water to make sodium chloride dissolve more doesn't work because its solubility doesn't increase with increasing temperature:

http://www.sci-journal.org/reports/vol3no2/v3n2a5.html

Having said that, heating the water may make it dissolve a little faster, but then you have to cool it off again. I just made a gallon of cold brine by using 7/8 of a gallon of room temperature water to dissolve the 150 gm of salt and then adding a pound of ice cubes after the salt had dissolved. Adding the ice later only meant that it was easier to see when the salt had dissolved...

The salt dissolved quite quickly in the room temperature water. Interestingly, as the salt dissolved, the water became cloudy as a result of gases dissolved in the water coming out of solution. This occurs because the solubility of gases in water decreases with increasing salinity.

aloha,

Dave Hurd
Hilo, Hawaii


On February 07, 2009 at 08:03 PM, Dilbert said...
fascinating.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar.html

/quote
When you add sugar to water, the sugar crystals dissolve and the sugar goes into solution. But you canít dissolve an infinite amount of sugar into a fixed volume of water. When as much sugar has been dissolved into a solution as possible, the solution is said to be saturated.

The saturation point is different at different temperatures. The higher the temperature, the more sugar that can be held in solution.
/unquote

http://chiralpublishing.com/Bishop_supersaturated.htm
http://www.scienceclarified.com/Ro-Sp/Solution.html

http://www.chemtutor.com/solution.htm
/q
Usually as you increase the temperature, an increased amount of solute will be able to dissolve.
/uq


On March 26, 2009 at 07:20 AM, Diablo (guest) said...
Subject: Thank you
Many thanks for this post. Finally a place that explains cooking and satisfies my questions.

And thanks for providing this site, I'd like to brine my mind with its contents...


On March 31, 2009 at 03:36 PM, RLWallace said...
Subject: Brining and pseudo-moistness
The basic premise of brining is that the salt in the brine denatures meat protein, making brined meat more moisture-retentive. After the brine diffuses into the intercellular spaces, it drains water out of the cells by osmosis. That increases the concentration (not the number) of dissolved salt ions inside the cells, which causes the protein molecules to unfold. The protein matrix traps and holds the remaining cellular water, so it isn't squeezed out as soon by the heat of cooking.

A second thesis [main article, paras. 4-6; 5/28/07 comment] claims that the brine increases the number of intracellular solutes, thereby reversing the original osmotic flow and resulting in a net increase in moisture content. This theory assumes that the "broken down" intracellular solutes increase to the point where they actually exceed the intercellular solutes, including those from the brine. If, instead, the solutes outside the cell walls still outnumber those inside, the osmotic flow out of the cells would continue, though its rate might slow down.

(Parenthetically, are there any quantitative experimental data supporting this second theory [cf. 7/5/06 comment]? More particularly, how long would it take for any "reverse flow" to offset the initial osmotic dehydration? Though its advocates claim that brining requires as little as 30 minutes of refrigerated soaking, it's hard to believe that the initial diffusion, even, would penetrate very far in that time. Have there been experiments with brines containing dyes or other markers?)

Yet even assuming one or both of these mechanisms, so what? A large part of the brining liquid ends up in the intercellular spaces, or in gaps between muscles or under the skin. ("Meats have space between [their] constituent parts where water and salt can collect. A piece of cloth dropped in a salt water bath will come out moist and salty without the benefit of a semi-permeable membrane or denatured proteins" [9/4/06 comment].) But during cooking, this liquid is the first to go, at temperatures as low as 120F -- well below the target temperatures for brined meats like turkey or pork. If you're used to turkey that's absolutely desiccated, anything would be an improvement, even breast meat whose remaining juices run out as it's carved -- at least it looks moist, the same way a sidewalk sprayed with water looks wet. But if all you want is meat coated with liquid, a sauce is a more direct, more controlled, and much easier way to get it.

For something better than that, brining's promise of greater intracellular water retention may be the truth, but it's not the whole truth. Away from the lab, what counts is juiciness as you're chewing the meat, not numerical moisture content. For example, even with its maximum natural moisture, raw meat like sashimi is rubbery, not juicy; it doesn't really taste moist. So too with brined meat: the salt denatures the meat protein, just as baking a custard denatures the egg protein; and like a baked custard, brined meat may hold appreciable added liquid without feeling any more moist in the mouth. The very mechanism that retains the liquid converts it into a semisolid. Cook's Illustrated / America's Test Kitchen, longtime purveyors of brining pop science, compare brined meat to "water-added" pork products like frankfurters, and that is exactly the effect of brining: the "better" it works, the more it transforms the juiciness of unbrined meat into the rubberiness of a hot dog. Less than that, and it mostly just adds salt.

For some meats in some long-cooked applications like barbecue, brining may have a place. Otherwise, it's utterly unnecessary. Simply put, what causes dry meat is overcooking, not a deficiency of water or salt in the raw meat; and the cure is simply to cook the meat a shorter time, to a lower internal temperature. With turkey, the traditional methods (frequent basting, covering the breast with cheesecloth) can produce a bird with pink, pliable, moist, and rich-tasting breast meat -- and no over-salty pan drippings. Unbrined boneless chicken breasts are easily cooked (about 3 minutes on the first side, 2 minutes on the second) until they feel pliable but resilient when prodded with a fingertip. (Or, for cold salads or sandwiches, whole bone-in breasts can be "oven poached" for around 45 minutes at 300F.) And for pork, brining is just plain silly: Modern pork is bred to be lean and moist instead of fatty, and cryovac packing makes it damper still; an unbrined 1-inch boneless pork chop (pan-browned 3 minutes on the first side, then turned over and roasted 9 minutes at 325F) is already so juicy that I have to make the accompanying sauce thicker than usual to compensate for the liquid that comes out as I cut into the chop.

In the end, while some people report moister meats after brining, I suspect this is an artifact; my guess is that they either use an updated recipe with shorter cooking times, or simply pay closer attention to how the cooking is coming along. Or there may be a placebo effect. Anyway, most panaceas are suspect, and this one should be no exception. Brining is modern-day snake-oil.


On April 11, 2009 at 07:58 PM, Diablo said...
Subject: Yes, Brining does have a place
and if you want to see the ratios again, here they are; From another post...

150 g in 1 gallon of water is about 4.0% solution, 110 g is a 3% solution and 210 g is about 5.5%....


On April 30, 2009 at 04:36 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Osmosis
Brining is consistent with the laws of osmosis. There are other solutes besides salt that you have to consider including other electrolytes as well as proteins and carbohydrates. The cytosol inside the cells would have a higher total solute concentration than the brine solution and therefore water will be drawn into the cell. Salt will also be drawn into the cells by the same mechanism.


On May 17, 2009 at 08:59 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: vinegar
Ok, I understand that this is a chemical process, what if an acid is introduced to the brine, like mixing in some vinegar?


On November 25, 2009 at 06:07 AM, isetam (guest) said...
Subject: letting turkey rest after brining
It's Tuesday night - I put the 25 pound turkey in to brine and planned on taking it out tomorrow around noon, and then cooking it at noon on Thursday - is that to long to let it rest? BTW - it's a very freshly killed turkey(like 2 days ago)


On November 28, 2009 at 03:22 AM, Jeff (guest) (guest) said...
Does brining really work? Here is a picture of a chicken breast that was immersed in a recommended brining solution (1 cup salt in 2 gallons liquid) with added blue Rit dye for 16 hours. Judge for yourself.

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii316/tjsmithdog5/Brining.jpg[/img]


On November 28, 2009 at 05:28 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Jeff (guest) wrote:
Does brining really work? Here is a picture of a chicken breast that was immersed in a recommended brining solution (1 cup salt in 2 gallons liquid) with added blue Rit dye for 16 hours. Judge for yourself.

But, is this a good test? Are the dye molecules similar size to the sodium and chlorine ions in the water after dissolving the salt? I don't know what the answer is, but I thought I'd pose the question...


On December 18, 2009 at 11:51 PM, First time briber (guest) said...
Subject: Rinsing after brining
Hi I have read some recipes that call for fresh water rinsing and then drying before cooking, other recipes don't mention it, just cook when straight out of the brine.

Any opinions please?


On December 19, 2009 at 08:14 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Rinsing after brining
First time briber wrote:
Hi I have read some recipes that call for fresh water rinsing and then drying before cooking, other recipes don't mention it, just cook when straight out of the brine.

Any opinions please?

It really depends on the recipe, length of the brining time, and concentration of the brine. I suggest you cook the recipe once without rinsing to see if it's too salty on the exterior of the protein. Drying the protein can help with browning, so that may be a good step to take regardless of if you rinse or do not (if you plan on browning the meat). If you don't have the luxury of multiple attempts at the recipe, I would rinse and pat dry - then prepare the meal as planned. Exterior salting can always be done just before service or during the meal.


On January 03, 2010 at 01:28 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: What Do You Mean Snake Oil??
I have a friend that brined his chicken for 3 hours - it soaked up so much brine he had to cook it longer to get it up to temp, and when he went to cut it, the juices gushed out overflowing the carving plate and went all over the kitchen. javascript:emoticon(':lol:')


On February 18, 2010 at 06:10 AM, Maggie (guest) said...
Subject: brining
Never heard of brining pork but will give it a try.
We (Floridians) fish a lot and brine the filets in salt water overnight, prior to smoking them....I'm wondering if anyone has tried a salt & sugar brining solution for fish...?


On March 06, 2010 at 12:23 AM, mommaarcona (guest) said...
Subject: Brining, curing, and Ceviche?
Wow! lots of comments on this post. I am in culinary school and I notice the difference that brines have on meats. I made a brine for pork chops and added brown sugar and molasses along w/ spices I'm not going to name (sorry). And a good 24 hr soaking time. Fabulous. I've never had pork chops that were so moist. However Brining fish is not recommended. Brining should really only be used when you want to retain moisture in the item you are cooking, like pork chops, turkey and chicken. Fish is better being cured. Using a mixture of brown sugar and kosher salt with a pinch of Prague powder #1 (curing salt - it's pink) and other spices. If you are going to cure your fish and smoke it this is the best way. Make sure you put it in a perforated pan over another pan to allow the moisture from the fish to drain. Cover is loosely and place in a refrigerator under 40 degrees F.
For any brine acidic products are not recommended as they will cause the proteins to coagulate giving your food a cooked texture.

Ceviche: someone mentioned wanting an explanation of why ceviche is the way it is. Ceviche is a raw fish (usually shrimp or prawns) that have been marinated in an acidic mixture. The acids coagulate the proteins in the fish and create a cooked texture, even turning the shrimp pink.
Any other inquiries or if you have questions about what I've typed, please e-mail me at marcona@sbcglobal.net.


On July 27, 2010 at 09:05 PM, WH Bonney (guest) said...
Subject: Reducing Salt Intake
By now we all know that most adults would do well to reduce their sodium intake because sodium increases blood pressure.

So would the brining still work if something other than sodium chloride was disolved in the water? Maybe potassium chloride or a mixture of postassium and sodium chloride. Or even sugar.

I can't think of a way to calculate how much additional sodium goes into a serving of the turkey ... maybe it's not enough to worry about.

Ideas?


On November 01, 2010 at 07:34 PM, Tim M (guest) said...
Subject: Brining
In order to reduce the amount of brine solution put the meat and a small amount of brining solution in a plastic bag then immerse the sealed bag in a water filled container such as a pot or ice chest. Use enough brine to cover the meat to about 1/2 inch or so when immersed. This will insure the meat is completely surrounded by brining solution while using less salt, etc with the ability to add ice to the surrounding water without diluting the brine.


On November 19, 2010 at 09:17 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Several site explaining additional sodium added by brining.
I spent most of a vacation day researching this and have found a few explanations as to the amount of additional sodium brining adds. I have posted them here, if anyone cares help spread them please feel free as they were difficult to find and a large group of people are looking for this information. Hope this helps.

http://old.cbbqa.org/articles/Salt/SaltBrining.html
http://www.cooksillustrated.com/howto/print/detail.asp?docid=1630
http://www.salon.com/food/francis_lam/2010/03/23/brining_meats_sodium_add_cal...ion

Charlie


On June 29, 2011 at 11:49 PM, maf (guest) said...
Subject: how long can you keep brine meat before cooking
I just need to know how long can you keep the chicken breast after brining?
In other words can you brine at night for 2 hours, wash and refrigerate to cook the next day? Can you freeze brine meat?


On June 30, 2011 at 05:27 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: how long can you keep brine meat before cooking
maf wrote:
I just need to know how long can you keep the chicken breast after brining?
In other words can you brine at night for 2 hours, wash and refrigerate to cook the next day? Can you freeze brine meat?

As long as you brined at refrigerator temperatures, you can treat the brined chicken as if it had been in the refrigerator that whole time. So, if it's a fresh piece, then definitely, after rinsing, you can store in the refrigerator or freeze as you would normally.


On October 29, 2011 at 11:51 PM, sanha (guest) said...
Subject: Brining a boned turkey than stuffing it
I will be deboning my turkey for Thanksgiving this year. I would like to brine a 14 lb. boned turkey overnight. Then I'd like to stuff it with an oyster stuffing. Do you think that will make the turkey moist and juicy, while not causing the stuffing to be too salty?


On October 30, 2011 at 12:05 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Brining a boned turkey than stuffing it
sanha wrote:
I will be deboning my turkey for Thanksgiving this year. I would like to brine a 14 lb. boned turkey overnight. Then I'd like to stuff it with an oyster stuffing. Do you think that will make the turkey moist and juicy, while not causing the stuffing to be too salty?

Rinse the bird after brining to remove surface salt. The salt in the turkey meat from the brining shouldn't leach out into the stuffing. I'd also encourage you to cook the stuffing separately for best results - turkeys with stuffing are often either overcooked to ensure food safety or the stuffing end up undercooked when the turkey is done cooking.


On November 23, 2011 at 01:58 PM, Jim MacK (guest) said...
Subject: Brining Water/Salt added Turkeys (Frozen Butterball)
I'd like to brine a thawed 24 lb. turkey that has water and salt listed as being added. My reason for brining is to use apple and orange juices with brown sugar and some salt as the brine to infuse some extra flavor.

If I reduce the salt content of the brine will the fruit and sugar get into the meat? Thanks for any help


On February 25, 2012 at 05:59 PM, MistyC (guest) said...
Subject: using sugar in the brine
Why do brining recipes usually include some type of sugary base? What is the purpose of sugar in the brining process? Is sugar necessary?


On February 25, 2012 at 10:12 PM, yocona said...
Subject: Re: using sugar in the brine
MistyC wrote:
Why do brining recipes usually include some type of sugary base? What is the purpose of sugar in the brining process? Is sugar necessary?

No, it isn't necessary. It is mostly for flavor, and only contributes marginally to the denaturing process.


On March 18, 2012 at 12:58 AM, leandrokoiti said...
Subject: great explanation!
finally a decent explanation about how and why brinning works, I never bought the simple osmosis explanation mostly because it would work the opposite as it really works, great post thanks a lot for sharing such great thoughts =D


On March 29, 2014 at 12:15 AM, Mark R (guest) said...
Subject: Brining
Oh dear! an engineer's website and we have cups per gallon......would any of you real engineers have specified a brine like that? It really is easy to do percentage, so at least we people in the rest of the world who use the SI system can do a quick and easy calculation - 5% say means 50 gms per litre.
While we are not trying to land on Mars with this stuff, the SI units, or at least percentage, means easy calculation and no mistakes.


On April 05, 2014 at 05:11 AM, Michael Chu said...
Yes, sorry! This article was written ten years ago and somewhere around 8 years ago I thought I switched everything to show mass when appropriate, but obviously missed some articles. 1/2 cup salt per gallon is around a 4% brine solution or 40 g salt per liter. I'll update the article the next time I do a content update pass.

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