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18

Soften. Other things that typically are added with salt will tend to toughen the beans, but it isn't the fault of the salt. For decades, chefs have circulated the oral tradition that adding salt hardens beans, but it's a myth. Several scientific studies verify that adding salt to the soaking water for dried beans will reduce the cooking times. The first ...


14

I am answering this question, but I am not going to accept this answer, at least not without further research and/or experimentation and editing this answer to reflect that. I am hoping that somebody with a greater knowledge of chemistry and the nature of brining can add to or even credibly contradict the science of what I am saying here. My conclusions are ...


12

Saltpeter is potassium nitrate, which does not directly cure meats. Bacteria convert nitrate into nitrite, which is the real preservative. Saltpeter can be replaced by a smaller amount of nitrite to get the same curing effect (most commercial cured meats do this), though a prolonged cure that converts nitrate into nitrite can develop more flavor. Tender ...


12

Actually, it's a popular misconception that brining works because of osmosis. If it was really osmosis at work, plain water would work better than salted water. Kenji over at The Food Lab went into this a few months ago: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/11/the-food-lab-the-truth-about-brining-turkey-thanksgiving.html Here's the relevant bit: To ...


11

I suggest reading this Cook's Illustrated - The Basics of Brining (PDF) article. I use their basic brine all the time. This article taught me two cool things I didn't know about brining. Adjust the amount of sugar & salt downward for high heat applications. Decreasing the amount of sugar ensures that the exterior of the meat doesn't burn. Prior ...


10

I believe that I have made some of those conflicting comments. It is definitely possible to make an excellent pan gravy with the drippings from a brined turkey. It is also really easy to have the gravy turn out inedibly salty if you aren't careful. Make sure you follow the brining recipe. Don't have too high a concentration of salt and don't brine for too ...


9

The great benefit of brining is that it opens the fibers of the meat and allows the water, and what is dissolved in the water, into the meat. I suggest you convince yourself of this by adding a fragrant herb such as rosemary to a chicken breast brine, and comparing it side-by-side with an unbrined breast. The difference, deep into the meat, will be ...


9

It is possible to over brine meat. If you leave it in too long it will get too salty. If you use a more dilute brine it won't get as salty but you will wash out more of the natural flavor into the water as well. You could submerge your turkey in its packaging in ice water in a cooler for a day before brining. You could even thaw the turkey in this manner ...


9

Go to the beans section in J. Kenji López-Alt's chili blog post: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/01/how-to-make-the-best-chili-ever-recipe-super-bowl.html In short: salt replaces calcium and magnesium in the beans' skins that make them tougher. The result is that when beans are soaked in salt water the skin softens at the same rate as the bean interior and ...


8

I'll try to weigh on in this as much as possible with a non-authoritative answer: First of all, I simply can't state this emphatically enough: kashering is not brining! A kosher bird is not "pre-brined", and professional chefs who claim that it is are either misinforming their audiences or simply misinformed themselves. Kashering (sometimes called ...


7

The sugar is simply used for flavoring; the fact that it helps brine to a lesser extent is just an added bonus. The sugar also aids in browning via the Maillard reaction, though this can also result in burning in a high heat application. I suggest brining two boneless skinless chicken breasts -- one in a salt-only brine and the other with the salt & ...


7

For the brine, it's because of osmosis When you have a semi-permeable membrane, like a cucumber skin, water will tend to move from the higherlower solute mixture (the salt water) to the lower higher solute mixture (the water with organic material inside the cucumber). This will cause the cucumber to absorb water AND some salt, until the point where the water ...


7

Modern meat not being as fatty as the meat of yore, will appear dry when cooked. Brining helps the meat remain juicier. To brine chicken, immerse it in a 10% salt solution (by weight) and keep it in the refrigerator from 3 to 24 hours. To make a 10% solution, use 1 cup of kosher salt for every 1.4 quarts of water (5.6 cups). Cooks Illustrated, a cooking ...


7

Short answer, if you trust the brining job of the manufacturer, you won't gain much by rebrining. In brining you're looking to get a certain amount of moisture "trapped" by the salt in the turkey, which they have, in essence, done for you already with the brining solution. However, that brining solution is usually injected rather than soaked in, so I ...


7

I suspect that the biggest problem here is that your brine isn't anywhere close to being strong enough. Cooks Illustrated has a good guide to the entire process but in a nutshell: Sea salt is expensive and inefficient for brining; the impurities actually make it more difficult to dissolve and disperse properly. Kosher salt is generally recommended, ...


7

How do you 'notice' when the brine hasn't reached certain areas? Its easy to see if the brine is working and you're possibly just overcooking - weigh the bird pre and post brine, before cooking. If it weighs more, you've got the liquid. A properly brined bird shouldn't taste like 'omg, thats salty!'. I think two things are going on here: Your ...


6

Many aromatic compounds are oil soluble, or need to be heated to really come out and 'open up.' Since brines I use are all water based, I've had some luck with heating, even briefly boiling dried spice components first, then cooling, adding the other ingredients, then using. Especially, don't boil vinegar or alcohol components, as they will lose potency. ...


6

I'm going to differ with papin on a few points; I would suggest a 5% by weight solution, rather than 10%. Partly this is economy -- 10% by weight with a gallon of water is .8 lbs, or nearly a whole box of kosher salt! But also, I learned to do a 5% brine from Ruhlman in his Charcuterie book, and this is also what Thomas Keller suggests in his cookbooks. So ...


6

I decided to do some more of my own research on this with the nitrate/nitrite confusion. Thanks to the other answerers, that definitely helped give me a good starting point. I'm writing my own answer so I can include some links. I made it a community wiki (seemed like it might be good for this one). Firstly, from everything I've been able to find online ...


6

If you cook it immediately on arriving, an hour is a safe period. Remember the chicken will take a little time to heat up. Usually 2 hours is the limit for meat at room temperature. On the other hand, there's no harm in playing it safe, with both spillage and spoilage. I'd suggest you put the brine and chicken in a zip-seal bag, then put ANOTHER bag ...


6

While reusing brine is probably fine in many cases, it's tricky from a food-safety perspective. It seems like there are lots of threads on the internet these days about reusing "pickle juice," and there are great reasons to take your brine and use it in some recipe for salads, dressings, sauces, etc. that you'll consume soon after making (or at least ...


6

Salt dissolves in water. Brining is simply the process of soaking something in a saline solution so that either it absorbs saltwater, or the salinity of the pre-existing water approaches equilibrium with that of the brine. The end state is just a lot of water, some on/inside the meat and some outside, all with approximately the same salinity. If you roast ...


5

Did you rinse the ribs well enough before cooking? Brined food should be rinsed several times to remove brining solids from the surface of the food before cooking.


5

This is a secondhand answer from a secondhand chef :) but my wife absolutely insists on browning pulled pork and it is truly the worst pulled pork I have ever had. She rarely uses the Internet, so I doubt she will discover that I have said this. After 41 years of getting that pork past my taste buds, I am not about to let her find out how bad it is now. Not ...


5

I've never had any problem using the drippings from a brined turkey for gravy, and I've probably done 10 of them. If you're particularly concerned about it, use the neck and giblets to make a plain stock and cook that down a fair amount to concentrate the flavor. You can use that for the gravy instead of the drippings and no worries about salt. Or you can ...


5

Hot peppers won't work with brine, as brine is water-based and capsaicin (the pepper hotness) is not soluble in water. You would need an oil-based marinade to pass the 'heat'.


5

Brining and marination do two different things, contrary to popular belief. Brines allow salt (plus possibly a very few other small flavor molecules) to penetrate into meat, at a rate of about 2-2.5 CM per 24 hours. These deeply season your meat, change its texture, and help allow it to retain moisture when being cooked. Marinades are a surface treatment, ...


4

I brined a self basting turkey just last year and I think there was a big (good) difference between that one and other self basting turkeys I have had before. My wife is terrified of food born illness and insists that the thing is cooked way longer than needed and to a higher temp than required. There where two turkeys (same brand bought at the same store ...



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