Brining works by creating a salt bath that is diffused into the meat while soaking.
Brining is best suited for lean meats that tend to dry out during cooking, like chicken, turkey, wild game, pork loins and chops.
DO NOT brine meats that are labelled as "enhanced," "tenderized," or "self-basting." These meats may have been treated with a salt injection so brining them would make them extremely salty.
The basic brine proportion is approximately 1 cup salt to 1 gallon of water. From there you can add whatever you like: sugar, maple syrup, herbs, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, or try substituting apple juice for some of the water. The brine will not penetrate all the way into the meat, so don't get too elaborate with the ingredients.
Not all salt is equal. 1 cup of table salt equals about 1.8 cups of Kosher salt. Follow this method for any salt:
- Put 1 cup (25ml) hot water into a 2 cup (50ml) measuring cup
- Add salt until the water line reaches 1-½ cup (37ml) mark
- Pour into 1 gallon (3.8 litre) of water
You need about 2 - 3 times the volume of the meat in brine.
- 1 gallon (3.8 litre) of brine is enough for about 6 pounds (2.7kg) of meat
- 2 gallons (7.6 litre) will due for most turkeys
Brine Time: the larger the piece of meat, the longer it needs to brine, however, leaving the meat in too long will result in a tough meat texture and overly salty flavour.
- Meats that are 2" (5cm) thick or less : 1 - 2 hours
- Meats that are 3" (7.5cm) thick or more : 8 - 24 hours
- Fryer chicken (3-½-4 lbs/1.5-2kg) : 6 hours
- Roasting chicken (6-7 lbs/2.5-3kg) : 12 hours
- Turkey (10-15 lbs/4.5-7kg) : 12 - 18 hours
- Turkey (20-25 lbs9-11kg) : 24 hours
Here are two recipes to get you started: