What is Brine and How to Brine Meat Correctly?
Brine is a high-concentration solution of salt in water, often with added ingredients such as sugar, herbs, and spices.
How to brine?
Brining is an easy technique which involves immersing food, especially white meat and lean cuts of meat, in a saltwater solution before the cooking process.
You might have done this before to a turkey or a large piece of pork. Be aware that sometimes, turkey is sold pre-brined, and doesn’t require a second round at home. Pre-brined turkeys are labelled ‘self-basting’ or ‘enhanced’ depending on the brand.
Benefits of brining
Before fridges existed, brining was essentially done to preserve large pieces of meat. Nowadays, brining is used to make the meat more moist due to the salt softening the muscle fibres. The meat absorbs the brine trapping an amount of liquid inside that won’t evaporate completely during roasting or grilling and keeps the meat juicy.
Which meat should you brine?
Lean, white meats need brining as they have less fat and tend to dry out quickly. Some of these cuts also have less flavour which can be ‘injected’ while brining.
Pork loin, chicken breast, whole chicken or turkey are common meats to brine. However red meat such as beef and lamb contain connective tissue and fat that breaks down during cooking which prevent it from drying out, and therefore these don’t always need brining.
How long does it take to brine?
There is no exact time for the perfect brine as there are a few factors to calculate. A general guideline is to brine one hour for each pound (500 gr) of meat. But keep in mind the other factors below when calculating your final brining time. Never brine longer than 24 hours as you don’t want your meat to become mushy.
- The shape of your cut. A thin loin will need less time compared to a thick piece
- Cuts or pieces of meat with the bone-in will need a longer brining time.
- Depending on the recipe of your brine, the more acidity, the faster the brine works.
What is Brine
- Mixing bowls
- 1 L water
- 50 gr salt
- 25 gr caster sugar
- 30 ml apple cider vinegar
- 15 gr honey (maple syrup or palm sugar syrup)
- 1/2 pc lemon (sliced)
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 pc garlic clove (crushed)
- 1/4 tsp ground all spices
- 1 pc bay leaf
- 1 pc thyme sprig
- Combine all together with 1/4th of the water and warm until the salt and sugar has dissolved.
- When cooled a little, add the rest of the cold water and use the brine.