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BRINING

Brining  

Brining boosts flavor and makes meat tender. Brining, which consists of soaking meat in a solution of water, salt and often sugar, has a dramatic effect on meats of all kinds.

Table salt is made of two ions, sodium and chloride, that are oppositely charged. Proteins, such as those in meat, are large molecules that contain a mosaic of charges, negative and positive. When proteins are placed in a solution containing salt, they readjust their shape to accommodate the opposing charges. This rearrangement of the protein molecules compromises the structural integrity of the meat, reducing its overall toughness. It also creates gaps that fill up with water. The added salt makes the water less likely to evaporate during cooking, and the result is meat that is both juicy and tender.

A basic brining formula calls for 1/3 cup table salt, and 1/3 cup sugar dissolved in 1 quart cold water (per pound of food), with food left to soak one hour per pound. This formula is developed with two goals in mind: to season the food through and through, such that even a 12-pound turkey would be seasoned right to the bone, and to provide a cushion of moisture that would keep the food from drying out as it cooked.   

You may also use Morton's Tender Quick to make a brine. This product has the correct ratio of salt and sugar as well as the curing agents sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. Using Tender Quick will enhance the color of meats as well. Use at a ratio of 1 cup of Morton's Tender Quick to 4 cups of water. Always keep brines refrigerated. Never reuse brines. Brined meat still needs to be cooked before eating