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How salty do you make your brine?

katmankatman Posts: 331
edited 7:18AM in EggHead Forum
I've brined a few times. I'm trying to find the right combo of salt and time. This weekend I did a 14 pound turkey that sat in the brine for about 18 hours. The brine recipe I used called for 1 cup kosher salt/three quarts water. Made up about 8 quarts of this. I added in 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup raisins/ about 15 cloves; 1/2 cup orange juice and a dash of allspice. Rinsed and then dried the turkey for a couple of hours in the refrig, misted with olive oil and dusted with coarse black pepper. Cooked it at about 325. Bird was good, but a bit too salty to repeat for Thanksgiving. I liked the texture, it was moist and it looked great. So, how much salt/time works for you when you brine?


  • PapaQPapaQ Posts: 170
    katman,[p]From what I've read here and what I've found best for brine is 1 cup Kosher salt and 1 cup raw sugar for every gallon of water. Then mix in all the other things you mentioned. Besides those things, I've used quartered lemons, limes and oranges; peppercorns; bay leaves; quartered onions; celery stalks; carrots; and just about anything else you can find lurking around in your fridge. When I'm getting the turkey ready, I rub the cavity with whatever rub/seasoning I'm using on the outside and stuff it with some of the leftover fruit and vegetables from the brine. You can also throw some of the leftover onions on the coals just as you put the turkey on for smoke.[p]Paul

  • katmankatman Posts: 331
    Looks like your mix is less salty with about a quart more water--that's the direction I want to head. How much time do you leave the bird in the brine? I'll have to try the onions! I used a mix of apple and pecan. A little onion would be nice.[p]steve

  • PapaQPapaQ Posts: 170
    katman,[p]Generally, I brine overnight and prep the bird in the morning. If you're short of time, 3-4 hours will work, too. [p]Good luck on your next one.[p]Paul

  • katman,
    I'm certainly no expert, but have read it's best to brine turkeys that are NOT self basting and have Not had solutions or enhancements added. If you had a self basting bird that could be part of the problem.

  • katman,
    Cook's Ilustrated did a great article on brining in their November/December 2001 issue. Its a basic salt/sugar brine but you can add flavor enhancers (herbs, etc.) as you like. A summary of the article is available on my web site, below. I've brined chicken, pork and turkey and have never had it come out too salty following these directions. You will note that their brinning time is 1 hour/lb not to exceed 8 hours.

  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    katman,[p]Here is a link to some brining information

    [ul][li]Brine [/ul]
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • katmankatman Posts: 331
    Interesting difference: The Cook's specifications are a bit richer in salt, but significantly less in time in the brine. My mixture was based on some info from the Food Network and Virtual Bullet. I cut back on the time a bit and will reduce time more.[p]steve

  • katmankatman Posts: 331
    CentralPork,[p]No, it was natural. Never did like butterballs or meats that have been seasoned by others.[p]steve

  • a sticka stick Posts: 69
    katman,[p]I found one cup salt for every gallon of water was too salty, it made leftover turkey and chicken taste like ham. Now I use 2/3 cup of salt for every gallon of water, leave the other ingredients which various brines call for as is, and its been smooth sailing ever since.
  • katmankatman Posts: 331
    astick,[p]Thanks for the info. How long would you leave a mid sized (14 lb) turkey in the brine? I figure I'll do another test in a couple of days and I'm inclined to cut back on both the salt and the time in the brine.[p]steve

  • katmankatman Posts: 331
    PapaQ,[p]Thanks Paul. I'm sure you have plenty of experience with the occasional feast for your small family![p]steve

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