How to Make Brine

Written by ashlee green
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How to Make Brine
Brine your turkey for a juicier, more flavourful feast. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

One way to avoid overcooking meat and seafood is brining, or soaking lean meats or seafood in a solution of salt, sugar and water prior to cooking to make for a smoother texture and juicier flavour. As the meat soaks in the solution, it slowly takes on the flavours of the seasoning and becomes covered in a sticky coating. Once the meat is heated and cooked, the sticky coating turns into a jelly-like barrier, trapping in the meat's moisture. A wide array of brine formulas exist, but you can use a standard, all-purpose brine for most things.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Sugar
  • Cold water
  • Apple cider or orange juice
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried herbs and spices
  • Lemon or orange slices
  • Black peppercorns
  • Garlic
  • Lean meat, such as turkey, poultry or pork, or seafood, like salmon or shrimp
  • Plastic 1 to 2 gallon zipper-lock bags, plastic containers or a cooler
  • Ice packs

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Choose the meat you would like to brine. The best options are ones that are lean and have a mild flavour, such as pork, poultry and turkey. Shrimp is also a good candidate.

  2. 2

    Mix together cold water, sugar and salt in a brining container. For every pound of meat, use 1 qt. of cold water and a bit of either apple cider or orange juice, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Kosher salt measurements vary depending on the brand you use.

  3. 3

    Stir mixture together until sugar and salt dissolve.

  4. 4

    Add extra ingredients for flavour. Some examples are dried herbs and spices like sage, basil, rosemary, cinnamon and cloves, citrus slices, black peppercorns and garlic cloves.

  5. 5

    Place meat or seafood in brining container and submerge in the solution. If you are using a large brining container, be sure that the meat is fully submerged in the brine by weighing it down with a heavy plate or bowl.

  6. 6

    Refrigerate. If the brining container you are using is too large to fit in a refrigerator, cover the meat with ice packs. For every pound of meat you are brining, refrigerate for 1 hour before roasting.

Tips and warnings

  • To maintain a crispy skin after roasting your brined meat, dry it in the refrigerator, uncovered; meat parts should be dried for several hours, whole birds, overnight.
  • Do not brine beef or lamb. Both are typically eaten rare to medium-rare, meaning that they maintain more natural moisture than leaner meats and do not benefit as much from the process.
  • Do not make more than 2 gallons of brine.
  • Avoid refrigerating brine for less than 30 minutes or more than 8 hours.

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