COOKING TIP: Brining a Turkey

I am writing this post so that the information will be available for all to take advantage of  in time for Thanksgiving. While this information is given for turkey, brining can be used for other poultry, pork and some fish and shrimp (see below). Brining is a method which both  seasons the turkey and keeps the meat moist after cooking. The process consists of submerging the bird in a liquid to which salt and sugar have been added and leaving it there for several hours. Liquids used can be as simple as water but apple or other fruit juice, stock, etc. can be used, as well. Herbs, spices, fruit peels or other flavorings can be added to the brine to enhance flavor. The brining process  forces the salt/sugar solution to enter the cells of the turkey because of the higher concentration of these substances contained in the brine on the outside of the bird. This happens by a process called osmosis. As these elements enter the turkey they bring water in with them. While the salt/sugar mixture seasons the turkey, the salt also unravels the meat proteins. The unraveled proteins interact with each other, forming a matrix which holds moisture. On heating, this matrix gels, forming a barrier which keeps the moisuture from leaking out as the turkey cooks. Thus, the brining process leads to a well seasoned and moist cooked turkey.

BASIC BRINE

1/2 C Diamond Kosher salt*
1/2 C sugar ( white or light brown)
1 quart of liquid

Prepare enough brine to completely submuege the turkey.

* Salt: Use only kosher salt or table salt without any additives. However, different salts do not have the same saltiness when measured by volume due to the differences in the crystal size and configuration of the particular salt used. Therefore, 1 C of table salt = 1.5 C of Morton's Kosher salt = 2 C of Diamond Kosher salt. Adjust Basic Brine amounts, according to which salt you are using.

The brine can be place into large turkey cooking bags, or any container large enough to hold the turkey plus the brine.  If using bags, compress to make sure the brine is in contact with all surfaces of the turkey. If using other containers, make sure that a weight is placed on top of the bird to keep it covered with the brine. The turkey must be kept cold during the brining process by refrigeration or by being kept in an insulated container covered with ice.

Brine for at least 8 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

Additional information about brining can be found at the following sites:

virtualweberbullet,.com/brining
cooksillustrated.com/images