7 Important Brining Tips
I mentioned a simple brine I made for some pork chops from my friend Jim Tarantino's new cookbook, Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures & Glazes. Now I want to mention a few brining tips from his book that should be very helpful. By the way, this book is filled with tons of information and hundreds of recipes that will change the way you look at grilling and barbecuing.
When you make a brine, you typically bring it to a boil to combine ingredients so it is hot.
When you start the process of brining you want the brine and the meat or chicken to be the same temperature between 35°F and 40°F. This means you need to plan ahead to let the brine cool down to room temperature before adding the meat or chicken and putting it into the refrigerator to cool. The first time I brined some pork chops, I didn't let the brine cool down to the right temperature before adding the chops and they were a little salty.
A good way to counter meats and chicken that become to salty from brining is to use a glaze. The sweetness will balance the saltiness.
Don't brine flavor-enhanced meats. They typically have already been brined and will turn out way too salty.
Be sure to cover the meat or chicken completely when brining. If you are brining in a bowl, try to cover the meat by 2 to 3 inches. If you have to, place a heavy plate on top to keep the meat below the surface. If you are using zip lock bags, put the bags in a bowl so they sit upright so the meat stays submerged.
Stay away from brining in any soft porous plastic containers that are used for nonfood items like garbage bags, garbage cans or anything else that has to do with garbage.
Hard plastic containers are great for brining. The polypropylene plastic can endure the salts involved in the brining process. Jim likes to use glass 1-gallon deli pickle jars for smaller items and plastic ice chests for turkeys.
Salt is salt but when brining, you have to take into consideration what type of salt you are using. Because different salts come in different sizes and shapes, one cup of table salt does not equal one cup of kosher salt. For example, there are approximately 8 ounces per cup of Morton kosher salt but 10 ounces per cup of regular table salt. This can have a huge effect on the brining recipe you are following.
Jim has a chart in Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures & Glazes to calculate how much of each salt to use per quantity of water. He is kind enough to let me recreate it on my web site at Basic Brining Techniques.