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Brining 101


Chuck Hayes, Newborn, Georgia - [email protected]

I have a question.   What discipline combines chemistry, physics, art, dexterity, physiology, biology, uses all of the physical senses, and most importantly includes a good dose of LOVE?  If you guessed cooking you were right.  Haven’t thought about it like that before I am sure, but it is all true----and more.

Something that I learned how to do about 10 years ago is to brine, and will continue to do this until I can’t cook anymore.

A quick Wiki search pulled up this:
“In cooking, brining is a process similar to marination in which meat is soaked in a salt solution (the brine) before cooking.  Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, except that they forgot to mention that it makes the meat taste OH SO FAB-U-LOUS!

Brining does a couple of things---both equally important.  It makes the meat taste better (who doesn’t season with salt?).  And it makes the meat juicier.  Smoke/BBQ a chicken on the grill for 3 hours without brining and you might have a good bird.  Maybe dry it up a little bit, but good nonetheless.  Brine it first, and you have a great bird.  Brining is used 99.9% of the time on birds and pork at home.  Doesn’t work so well on beef from what I have read.


The basic brine solution is detailed below.  Some recipes call for adding flavoring ingredients such as cracked pepper, herbs, sliced peppers and such.  I say “Ah whatever”.  As long as you have the basic brine down pat your bird or hog will be soooo much more divine than without the brine.


• 1 gallon cold water in a non-reactive container
• ¾ cup Kosher salt (rock salt can be used, but do not use “regular” salt)
• ½ cup sugar (light brown can be used)

Water should taste very salty---like sea water.  Add or delete salt/water as necessary.

Immerse bird (whole or parts), or pork roast/ribs/chops for up to an hour.  Cut up portions of chicken will only need about 45 minutes.  Chops/ribs around 30.

Cook as you normally would, but remember that the meat will already have salt added, so watch how much salt is added in your seasonings.

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