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"How to Brine Meat and Poultry"
Taking the Guesswork Out of Brining Meats and Poultry
How to Brine Meat and Poultry is a subject that hasn't been well documented on the internet until now. This information will provide you with all of the basics that you will need to brine meat and poultry for the first time. Brining helps to tenderize meat and poultry. It also improves its flavor and increases its juiciness. Once you have learned how to brine meat and poultry, you will be sold on the process for life. Brine is ideal for inexpensive cuts of meat that lack juiciness and flavor.

A basic brine solution is created by simply adding salt to water. The exact amounts required can be found below in our Brine Chart. Using the correct amount of salt as specified is vital when brining meat and poultry. As you will see, brine is not generally used for all types of meat. You will be able to find countless recipes on the internet for various brines that other individuals have perfected.

Most individuals also add sugar or some form of sweetener to their brine... like vanilla, maple syrup, cane syrup, and honey. This is strictly optional but unless you try it, you won't know if it improves your brine. You can actually add anything to your brine that you can think of. Onions, garlic cloves, carrots, celery, bay leaves, pepper corns and lemons seem to be used quite often in a lot of various brines. Simply add those flavors to your brine that you really enjoy. After a little experimentation, hopefully you will come up with a spectacular brine that you will use for many years.
Basic Brining Recipe Chart
Water Diamond Crystal
Kosher Salt
Morton
Kosher Salt
Table Salt Sugar
  (4.8 oz. Per Cup) (8 oz. Per Cup) (10 oz. Per Cup) Optional
2 Quarts 1/2 Cup 1/3 Cup 1/4 Cup 1/2 Cup
1 Gallon 1 Cup 3/4 Cup 1/2 Cup 1 Cup
2 Gallons 2 Cups 1 1/2 Cups 1 Cup 2 Cups
3 Gallons 3 Cups 2 1/4 Cups 1 1/2 Cups 3 Cups
5 Gallons 5 Cups 3 3/4 Cups 2 1/2 Cups 5 Cups
Note: The easiest way to dissolve the salt is to add the salt to 2 cups of boiling water for each gallon of water that is being used and stir until all of the salt is dissolved. Then add this solution to the remaining amount of water that is called for in the recipe. Many individuals also add sugar (white or brown) to the brine as a flavor enhancer. If adding sugar, simply add the sugar at the same time that you add the salt. Always refrigerate this solution and make sure that it's cold before adding your meat or poultry to the brine. The ideal temperature to keep brine is between 35° F and 39° F. Brine should never be allowed to go over 40° F.

Other ingredients, such as spices, herbs, and vegetables can be easily added to the brine to enhance the flavor of the meat. You can also replace some of the water with various liquids like fruit juices, beer and wine. Experiment a little and let your imagination be your guide. For health reasons, you should never reuse brine a second time. Always discard after using.

Make sure that your roast is completely submerged in the brine. If necessary, place something on top of the meat to make sure that remains under the water. Use a container that will not react to the salt in the brine. Ideal containers would include plastic bowls with lids, ice chests, zip-lock bags and cooking bags. Refrigerate the meat while it's in the brine. Thoroughly rinse the meat or poultry to remove any excess salt after removing it from the brine solution.
Approximate Brine Times
Meat Time in Brine
  Fresh Ham - Large 4 - 7 Days
  Fresh Ham - Small 2 - 4 Days
  Fresh Ham - 1" - 2" Slices 12 - 24 Hours
  Pork Chops 3 - 4 Hours
  Pork Loin Roast 12 - 24 Hours
  Pork Shoulder 3 - 5 Days
  Pork Tenderloin - Whole 12 Hours
Note: Brine in not generally used for Beef, Veal or Lamb.
Poultry Time in Brine
  Chicken - Whole 4 - 6 Hours
  Chicken - Half 3 - 5 Hours
  Chicken - Breast 1 - 2 Hours
  Chicken - Legs & Thighs 1 - 2 Hours
  Cornish Hens 1 Hour
  Duck 24 - 48 Hours
  Goose 24 - 48 Hours
  Pheasant 4 - 8 Hours
  Turkey - Whole (See Note) 12 - 24 Hours
  Turkey - Breast 4 - 6 Hours
Note: Double the amount of salt for Whole Turkey brine. Prior to cooking, all poultry should be refrigerated for several additional hours after being remove from the brine.
Wild Game Time in Brine
  Rabbit 2 Days
  Roasts - Large 4 - 5 Days
  Roasts - Small 2 - 4 Days
Note: Roasts can be from Deer, Elk, Moose or Bear.
Seafood Time in Brine
  Fish Fillets - Thin 10 Minutes
  Salmon - Whole 12-24 Hours
  Shrimp - Large (Shell On) 30 Minutes
Note: Use ice water for fish and shrimp brine.

Article: How to Brine Meat and Poultry
Author: Ray Zimmerman
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