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Brining a pork loin

Sun Devil BrettSun Devil Brett Posts: 440
edited 5:39AM in EggHead Forum
I've got a pork loin I'm thinking about brining. I've never done that with this piece of meat. What are your thoughts. Thanks for any input, Brett B)


  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
  • See now you always ask the tough questions. :) In the past I've always cooked a loin w/o a brine. They've always turned out very good. Thought I'd try something different. The only thing I've ever brined was a turkey breast, which turned out good. Maybe I should go with the old saying, "If it ain't broke...."
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    Brining adds flavor and moisture to the meat. Pork Tenderloin is flavorful as it is and there are must better ways to add flavor to the loin. Don't overcook it and it will be extremely moist.

    Here's a couple from the recipe section
    LC's Pork Roulade

    Bente's Stuff tenderloin

    One from my site

  • 2EggTim2EggTim Posts: 170
    It is a good idea to brine a pork loin. I almost always brine the loin since, unlike tenderloin, they usually are dry. This will add lots of flavor and moisture.
  • I'll check those out. In the past I haven't gone wrong with a little John Henry Pecan and a couple of chunks of apple. Maybe I'll combine that with some stuff off of those other sites. Thanks as always, have a good day, Brett
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    If you are producing a dry pork loin then you are most likely cooking it to long..

    140-146 internal is all you need. No brine necessary
  • Pull it at 140 after a slow-medium cook and the juice will pour out of the loin!
  • Brining can add a moistness and with herbs and spice, a very nice flavor. Try it, you won't be dississpointed!

    Flavor Brine #1:

    1 gallon of water
    6 to 8 ounces of kosher salt. (I prefer 6 oz.)
    ½ cup of sugar

    TIP: I have listed the salt in ounces because grain size will vary between brands. I happen to use Morton’s kosher salt and 6 ounces is approximately 3/4 cup (or 12 tablespoons). Don’t use less than 6 oz. of salt or you are defeating the purpose.

    Canning salt (a smaller grain natural salt) or sea salts can be used as well, just go by weight. The nice thing about canning salt is that it will dissolve in lukewarm water (see preparing a brine below) and is handy for making quick batches. CAUTION: Canning salt and some sea salts may actually be "saltier" than the standard kosher salts. Some experimentation with actual amounts and brine times is needed when selecting these salts.

    A smaller batch of Flavor Brine #1:

    1 quart of water
    3 tablespoons of Morton's kosher salt
    2 tablespoons of sugar

    Seasonings like pepper, garlic powder, sage, lemon slices, onion slices, fresh herbs etc. are optional. A few ounces of flavored vinegar, wine, apple juice or even beer can be added as well.

    Flavor Brine #2:

    1 gallon water
    6 ounces of kosher salt
    1 tablespoon Morton's Tenderquick
    4 garlic cloves, crushed
    1/2 onion, chopped
    ¼ cup brown sugar
    1 to 2 tablespoons pepper blend or crushed peppercorns

    This brine has a different twist from Brine #1. It has less sugar, the addition of Morton's Tenderquick and less salt. Tenderquick has both nitrates and nitrites in a salt carrier. It's purpose is to tenderize, moisturize and color meats. It was designed for home use and differs in strength from professional or commercial curing salts, otherwise known as pink salts or Prague powders. I feel that Flavor Brine #2 is technically still a flavor brine and here's why. It gives us some of the things we like from cured products, namely flavor, a different texture and a hint of pink color to the meat. But it still is not as strong as a curing brine that would be used on something like bacon or ham. In other words, in this low concentration, it can't used for preservation. So I'm going to call it a flavor brine. This is a favorite of mine on chicken breasts and turkey breasts.

    Preparation of brines:

    Bring a quart or so of water to a simmer. Dissolve all dry ingredients in the water then add any other seasonings like fresh herbs or lemon slices. The heat will help wake up those flavors. Simmer 5 minutes or so and remove from the heat, allow to cool somewhat. Meanwhile, mix some ice into the remaining water then add it to the hot water. A brine must be cold before adding any meat so transfer the brine to a non-reactive container and chill it in the refrigerator. Overnight is best. (An option to skipping the overnight cool down is to cut back on the 3 quarts of water and substitute more ice) A plastic food grade container works well when making a full batch. A deep CorningWare dish or a zipper bag will work for small batches. Submerge your meat into the brine and return to the refrigerator. Discard after use, do not re-use brines.

    Here are some suggested brine times to get you started. If you are sensitive to salt, or experimenting with flavor combinations, try the lower end times first just to play it safe.

    Shrimp …………….10 minutes (use flavor brine #1 only, NO tenderquick)
    Chicken breasts ….1 to 4 hours
    Pork chops ……….1 to 4 hours
    Whole chickens ….4 hours to overnight
    Pork loin …………..4 hours to overnight
    Turkey Breasts …...6 to 24 hours
    Whole turkeys …....12 to 48 hours

    Following brining, give smaller items a good rinse, and larger items a soak-out in cold water, plus a good final rinse. (The soak-out can be as little as 15 minutes for a whole chicken or several hours for a whole turkey) The next step is some rest time in the refrigerator. Shrimp only need about 15 minutes of resting. I will rest smaller pieces of chicken or pork chops for a couple of hours and up to 8 hours on a turkey breast. The rest lets the salt and flavors retained in the meat disperse and reach a state of equilibrium of sorts. If you cook brined things right after coming out of a brine (even with rinsing or soaking) a lot of the salt is still near the surface. The heat of cooking will draw it out and the evaporation process will concentrate it. Then....when you take a bite, you are met with a salty flavor first. The equalization time lets everything settle down.

    Cook as usual.
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