a Turkey ...
When Most People Think About Brining A Turkey They Think of The Wet Method
Brining a turkey, using either a wet or dry method, can make a huge
difference in the taste and texture of the meat.
Here we will look at wet brining, if you are interested in dry brining click here.
Turkeys have a subtle taste. The reason that many commercial turkeys
are so often "enhanced", which essentially means that the
turkey has been brined, is that the industry knows that this process
adds flavor to the bird. It also provides a buffer to help prevent overcooking.
Some people discourage brining heritage turkeys.
And occasionally we are admonished that it is not necessary to
brine any bird which is to be deep fried, but the
results of taste tests usually indicate that brining does improve
the taste of all turkeys.
Heritage and a wild turkeys are different than conventional
turkeys in both texture and flavor.
Heritage and wild turkeys
are more intense in flavor and most diners find that the flavor
is not masked but actually enhanced by some form of brining. On the other hand, wet brining will change the texture of the turkey - some like the change others don't.
The reason that wet turkey brine has been discouraged for a bird destined
for the deep fryer also has to do with safety because moisture is introduced
into the turkey.
If the turkey is not patted dry of excess moisture before it is deep
fried, lowering it into hot oil will cause splattering and hot steam.
But, many deep fried turkey recipes do call for brining a turkey with a wet
brine, so if you decide to wet brine these birds just be extra careful.
Alternatively, you can dry brine the turkey.
Wet Brining a Turkey
Brining a turkey is a way to introduce juiciness and
flavor into a turkey. It takes time and effort, but the results can
Enhanced and Kosher birds are already treated
with salt, so additional brining is not needed and is not recommended..
How to Brine a Turkey Wet Brining:
To wet brine, you need a food grade container or a
non-reactive cooking pot large enough to contain the turkey while it
is submerged in the brine.
If you don't have a food grade container, you can buy a brining bag
which can be placed in a clean but non food grade container such as
a plastic bucket. It is worth buying an actual brining bag manufactured
for that purpose. Non food grade bags (e.g. garbage bags) aren't safe,
and certain food grade bags made for collecting and storing dry items
have a tendency to leak. We found out the hard way even after being assured by the manufacturer that they would be safe for brining.
The ice in this picture will not dilute the brine solution because it is calculated as part of the water that goes into the brine solution.
Brining a turkey takes up quite a bit of refrigerator space. As an
alternative, this process can be accomplished in a cooler with an iced
brine that maintains the bird at a safe temperature - below 40 degrees
F. Be sure to clean and disinfect your cooler before using it to brine.
To keep from diluting your brine, you can use reusable ice packs. Or,
make your own ice packs by partly filling milk or orange juice containers
with water and freezing them.
The brine itself is a solution of water, salt, sugar, and other flavoring
agents that bring flavor and moisture into the bird through osmosis.
It also locks natural moisture into the turkey by breaking down (denaturing)
the protein and giving liquid more room.
There are many different brines - CLICK HERE FOR WET BRINE RECIPES TO GET YOU STARTED.
All brines use salt, most use water or a combination
of liquids and sweeteners like sugar or honey to reduce saltiness and
to help with browning.
To cool a brine quickly, don't use all of the water called for in the
brine recipe when you dissolve the salt over heat. Instead, add some
of the water in the form of ice after the salt is dissolved.