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Author Topic: Brining, pros and cons  (Read 3583 times)

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  • Member
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Brining, pros and cons
« on: November 16, 2007, 04:54:31 PM »
I decided to brine my turkey this year and have some questions for those of you who are experienced with this. 

First, I am a good cook, so am not worried about messing it up too badly.  I do, however, like a "classic" turkey taste.  Does the brining make it taste vastly different than a regular turkey, or is it mostly to add tenderness?  I don't mind if my turkey has a little extra flavor, but...I still want it to taste like turkey.  Ya know?  Also, does it make the turkey taste saltier? 

I am using a 14lb frozen Butterball Turkey (though now I wish I had gone with fresh) and Turkey Perfect Herb Brine Mix, from WholeFoods. 

And lastly, any specific pitfalls I should watch out for?  The bag calls for a 20 to 24 hr marinate, but I think I am leaning more towards one hr per lb.  I just don't want to leave it for too long and have it taste salty. 

Any advice or suggestions you have would be great!


  • The Girl Next Door
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Re: Brining, pros and cons
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2007, 05:26:54 PM »
If you thoughly rinse the turkey after taking out of the brine, it shouldn't taste salty.  Also, the brine will have enough sugar in it to balance the salt that is in it.  You need to do at least 20 hours to allow the turkey to absorb the brine all the way through.

IME, a straight brine doesn't change the taste of it.  It also doesn't inherently make it tender.  What it does is season the meat from the inside and add water to the turkey so that it doesn't dry out during cooking.  Now, of course, moist turkey is more tender ;)  It will certainly still taste like turkey, but again, the key is to rinse it very well with cold water when you remove it from the brine to get all of the salt off the surface of the bird.

Make sure the turkey is completely defrosted before you brine it.  When you're brining, if you don't have room for it in the fridge, get a cooler and put the turkey in a bag with the brine, close the bag very well, and pack dry ice around it.  It will keep it cool enough for 24 hours.


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Re: Brining, pros and cons
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2007, 05:30:47 PM »
I am a big fan of brining. I think it makes the turkey much more tender and that it tastes somehow more "turkey-er." It is a bit more salty, but not objectionably so. I just remember not to add salt to the gravy until I taste it.

I don't use a brining mix; I just make my own using this method, minus the herbs Best Way Brined Turkey.  My turkeys are usually small enough that I can get them into the refrigerator, inside a plastic tub. If yours won't fit, you need an ice chest plus lots of bags of ice.

Cooks Illustrated suggests brining for 8 hours, then allowing the turkey to air dry in the refrigerator overnight, to get a really crisp skin. I haven't tried that yet but it sounds good.

I also brine chickens and pork in a similar way.

The plural of anecdote is not data


  • Guest
Re: Brining, pros and cons
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2007, 06:45:21 PM »
If you have a Butterball, you shouldn't need to brine it.  The brining just keeps it juicier (the salt helps it retain water), but Butterballs are already injected for juiciness. 

If you want to just add some nice subtle flavor, make a slurry with olive oil, lemon zest, some minced shallot and some minced herbs, like parsley.. and then (carefully) rub it all over under the skin with your fingers, being careful not to tear it.

Also, Butterballs have the pop up timers.  Don't rely on it, since it tends to overcook the turkey.  Use a thermometer and take the turkey out about 10-15 before the recommended "done" temp.  When the turkey sits for the 20 minutes, it will come up to temp and it'll stay juicier.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2007, 06:50:37 PM by Summrs »


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Re: Brining, pros and cons
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2007, 05:16:04 PM »
I always brine my turkey. I use apple cider and orange juice with some bay leaves, all spice, kosher salt and sugar. Gives a hint of apple.citrus flavor but the turkey still shines. It always comes out moist.