Why Heston Blumenthal says it needs to soak chicken before low-temperature baking in salty solution of water? I always thought that osmosis goes better if water would be unsalted, and meat would be more tender soaked in pure water?


  • 1
    You're actually soaking the meat in a brine - which both adds flavor and draws moisture to the surface of the meat (the salty water can penetrate better).
    – SnakeDoc
    Sep 19, 2018 at 19:32
  • yes, but the solution in chicken cells is less saturated than salty water, and more saturated than pure water - shouldn't pure water make the meat tender, while salty solution just draws out water molecules from chicken cells? Sep 19, 2018 at 20:11
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    @SnakeDoc (and others) - please write answers as answers. It gives you room to more fully explain, and ensures that any requests for clarification are grouped with the answer rather than the question.
    – Cascabel
    Sep 19, 2018 at 20:13
  • Maybe draw out water is the objective.
    – paparazzo
    Sep 19, 2018 at 20:13
  • i dont think so, because before baking, meat should hold as more juices inside as possible, to prevent dryness Sep 19, 2018 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


What you are referring to is called a brine. It's pretty common to brine meats, especially poultry (think Turkey, etc). Brining meat before cooking helps break down protein bonds, and create a more tender, moist finished product.

thekitchn.com has a very succinct explanation:

What Is Brine?

Brine is a salt solution made by mixing salt and water, usually about 5 to 8 percent salt by weight. Some recipes include sugar and other ingredients to add flavor to the meat being brined, but a basic brine is a salt-water solution.

How Does Brining Work?

Here are three major functions accomplished by brining — and reasons to try it. It's so easy, too.

  • Meat absorbs some of the liquid: When a piece of meat is soaked in a brine solution, that solution is slowly drawn into the meat, and even though some of it is inevitably lost during cooking, it still makes a big difference. Since the meat starts out with more liquid within, it ends up juicier and more moist when cooked.

  • Muscle fibers are dissolved: Highly concentrated salt solutions will cause proteins to precipitate (essentially forcing them to aggregate with each other and clump together). On the other hand, a low-concentration salt solution has the opposite effect and actually can increase protein solubility and allow more proteins to dissolve. So brine actually helps dissolve some of the muscle fibers, which helps to reduce the toughness of meat.

  • Muscle fibers and meat proteins denature: A salt solution can denature proteins, essentially unfolding and unravelling them. As they unfold, water works its way in between these proteins so there is more water in between the meat proteins as the meat cooks. This results in a more tender cooked meat.

Source: thekitchn.com

  • 2
    I'll just post the link I was going to share, since the information is essentially the same (no need to post a redundant answer). Interesting part of this article is that Cook's Illustrated weighed turkeys after cooking and found that the brined birds weighed more, so they literally do retain more of the water/moisture. cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/8243-the-science-of-brining Sep 20, 2018 at 20:49

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