Ben’s Brining Tips

Ben is over-talented at growing plants and raising animals for meat so he had to become an expert in cooking and preserving too :).

Here he writes about brining meat:

The brine I make can be used on all meats, I regularly use it for seafood (particularly fish I intend to smoke), poultry (chicken, turkey) and pork.  It’s important that the meat is not over brined, or it will become overly salty.

Also, you might notice that meat (especially chicken) goes darker than normal when cooking. Don’t panic if it looks a bit strange but do check the internal temperature of the meat.

It’s very important to remember that whatever ingredients you use, the meat will be soaking in it and taking it up. So avoid ingredients that have additives or preservatives. In particular, you must use non-iodised salt that does not have an anti-caking agent in it.  For best results, i use natural sea salt and raw sugar.

The brine helps the meat to preserve moisture and flavour in the cooking process.  You’ll notice for fish that at the end of brining there will be a lot of slime in the water.  When cooked, the meat will be more flavoursome, more moist and fall apart easier.  The brine does this by affecting the proteins of the meat (i don’t know how). PK said something about tightening them and that breaks them apart.

Making the brine:

  1. Put enough water to cover the meat into a bowl.  Dissolve salt in the water until a raw potato floats, and then add the same amount of sugar.  At this point the brine is done.  If you did nothing else you’ve brined your meat!  This is where i will stop for seafood, but for other meats, read on.
  2. Add flavour.  There is no end to what you can/can’t add, and no specific quantities.  A general guide for poultry is mustard powder (2 tsp), star anise (generally 1 or 2 will suffice), smoked paprika (1 tsp), cayenne (1/2 tsp) and maybe some juniper berries (4-5).
  3. Put the meat into a bowl or ziplock bag (I prefer the bag), cover with the brine mixture.  If you’ve made too much brine, ensure the flavours are transferred (i.e. star anise and juniper berries).  Make sure all the cavities are also filled with brine, and there are no air pockets
  4. Leave in the fridge over night (8-12 hours)
  5. Take it out of the brine, rinse off and pat dry (make sure you clean the sink down well after).
  6. Leave in the fridge so the skin dries and goes crispy
  7. Cook your meat however you like.

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Enjoy the brine revolution,

Ben

See more of Ben’s posts here.

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