I frequently make use of brining as a tool to help yield juicy (and well-seasoned) meat--especially on pork and poultry. I am usually pretty successful with this technique and get compliments from guests.
On the other hand, I have in the past purchased factory-brined poultry and found it nearly unpalatable. These will sometimes say things like "up to 12% retained water"--sometimes even 16% or 20%.
What is the difference here? My hypothesis is that one of more of these factors are a detriment to the factory-brined birds
- Concentration (e.g. 5% vs 15%)
- Chemicals (e.g. salt vs sodium phosphate)
- Delivery method (soaking vs injecting)
- Age (freshly brined vs sitting for who-knows-how-long)
It seems to me that something about the factory brine is irreparably damaging the muscle fibers. In part, I'm interested so I know what to avoid in my own brines (e.g., for #4--do I need to be sure to cook my beast promptly after brining), and in part I am just intrigued by the difference.