Brine

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Anonymous
Brine

In the future recommend a podcast on the science of brining. It's not easy to understand why if I cooking chicken breast and holding it hot in water drys the meat, but brining it in salt and water before cooking makes it juicy. Possibly a good food science video.

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esavitzky
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Joined: 2011-05-16 07:13

Landon,

Welcome to the forum.

Here's and existing link to the Science of Brining with a link to Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking as a reference.

Anonymous's picture
Landon246

Yes, I agree Harold McGee is very good. I just thought Jacob does such a great job breaking down the fundamentals it might be worth his time to tackle brining.

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jacob burton
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@ Landon,

I've actually been working on a "Science of Brining" video for quite some time now. The actual reactions that make brining possible are so much more complicated then the general answer of osmosis. I'm working on a "Science of Salt" video right now which will lead into a brining video.

The food science videos are probably the most time consuming content that I produce (even more so then the audio lectures) so I have to keep coming back to them while producing other content so the site doesn't go "stale." The three part emulsification videos alone easily took about 70-80 hours to produce.

Thanks for the suggestion, glad you're enjoying the podcasts and welcome to the Stella Culinary Community!

Jacob

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Chef316
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Oh...To Brine or Not to Brine....

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pm_odonnell
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I had a question on the subtly of brining.  When  I marinate meat I'll put the protein in a zip top bag with what ever marinade and turn it from time to time and a few hours later I'm good to go.  I want to brine a whole chicken but don't really have fridge space for a pot big enough to hold a whole chicken.  Can I put the brining solution in a zip top bad with the chicken, seal it and get the same result even though the chicken isn't totally submerged or does the chicken need to be completely covered by the brine for it to work properly?

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Wisconsin Limey

You need complete submersion to brine a whole bird.  Try using a large enough cooler and ice water to keep it below 40F
 

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jacob burton
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Also, if you're chicken is small enough to fit in a gallon bag, you can fill the bag with the chicken and the brine and then submerge the bag in a pot of water to force out all the air (pretty much the same technique I used in the sous vide lamb video). You'll still need to turn it every now and then, but it will work. Allowing the chicken to rest 12-24 hours after being removed from the brine will also help the salt diffuse more evenly throughout the chicken.

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abeniste
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Hi. I have been study equilibrium brining for a while. Base on MC, we can add any amount of water to reach the final meat salinity. to reach the equilibrium, half of the salt concentration should go the meat. My believe is the more water we add, less salt will have in the solution, so less salt will be diffused to the meat.

So, based on the formula ppm=(salt/water gramas)*1000000

300g meat, 300g water and 1% salinity (6g salt)
ppm=(6/300)*1000000=20000ppm

Double the water: 300g meat, 600g water, 9g salt
ppm=(9/600)*1000000=15000ppm

So, the meat will not have the same amount in both cases above. Does it make sense?

Many thanks.

 

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jacob burton
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For equilibrium brining, I usually recommend keeping the weight of the protein and water the same, which will make the calculations easier. When your salt content drops by half (using a salinity meter), you know the equilibrium brine is finished

With that said, I still prefer traditional gradient brining, but different strokes for different folks.

I address equilibrium brining in much more detail here: http://stellaculinary.com/podcasts/video/the-science-behind-brining-reso...

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Bulk Brining

As I don't always remember to plan menus in advance to my wifes chagrin when it is my turn to do dinner, I invariably thaw out a pork tenderloin or chicken breast and wish I had had done so a couple days in advance to have brined and rested.  Could I bulk brine several of these after a shop and then freeze them individually (after resting in fridge to equilibrate and dry) so on thawing I could just cook?  Or does freezing a brined product cause some degredation above and beyond what just freezing does to a non brined product? Maybe for example the increased water uptake by the product through brining might through crystallization further break down the meat cellular structure making it mushy etc. 

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QP, You're intuition is correct. Brining then freezing is going to change the texture of the meat. You're better off, rapidly thawing the meat. Take our of refrigerator, put in a Ziploc bag and submerge it on warm tap water for ten or 15 minutes. 

Remove after its soften up, pat dry, salt the outside with a pinch here and there. Finish prepping the rest of the meal. Then rinse the salt off the chicken, pat dry and cook as desired. You could also use a device called a Jacquard. It will poke small holes in the product being brinded. Will give you deeper salt penetration in a shorter amount of time. 

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Dry Brine

Thanks Mucho for reply.  I am familiar with the Jacquard. I think that would "tenderize" but wouldn't increase water uptake (maybe help with water retention as disrupt protein strands so don't contract and expel water? But then maybe resting meat before cutting would do same thing?) Question though regarding thawing and salting.  I thought as a general rule it is better to thaw with running cold water (sealed in plastic of course). As for the brining, my understanding was that unless you salt protein and let sit for an extended period of time, if you don't cook with in just a few minutes, the salt draws out the water. For example you can see the weeping on a salted steak if sits for a few minutes, but with time the water is reabsorbed and bound more tightly than if it were cooked with out salting / dry brining. The salt needs to sit on the protein a sufficient amount of time in order for it to diffuse into the meat and change the protein's structure sufficiently to retain existing water (i.e. no extra water added as only salt used, not water).

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You may want to listen to my Ask Chef Jacob episode on the Science of Brining: https://stellaculinary.com/audio-podcasts/ask-chef-jacob/acj-007-science...

While brining and then freezing will cause textural changes, it's not much worse than just freezing alone. And while it's always best to brine and cook fresh, I find brining and freezing still gives a better results than not brining at all. So if you constantly find yourself thawing and cooking dinner last minute, you can play around with pre-brining some of your leaner proteins before freezing.

You may also want to look at dry salting the proteins instead of brining. Brining will add more water to the product. More water = more ice crystals = more celluar destruction = more weeping (loss of water) when product is thawed.

If you dry brine with 1% salt and let it sit for 24 hours before freezing, you will get the same results as wet brining, except you'll have less cellular destruction form freezing since you're not adding any additional water.

If you're not happy with the quality of the brined and frozen meat, then I would go with Mucho's suggestion.

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Thanks Chef,

The dry brine makes sense!   This sounds like a good compromise, ie brining to help water retention so moister, but no increased water uptake to degrade meat.  Quick question; rinse salt off meat and let "dry" before freezing or freeze with salt still on +/- rinse before cooking?

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jacob burton
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There's two approaches to dry brining. The first is to heavily salt, rinse, and then let equlibrate. The second is to use less salt, and let it fully diffuse. The latter is my preferred approach, and I use 1% salt when doing this.

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lswilli
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Question: I did not have a lot of time to shop around for a turkey that was not already brined. I plan to cook a shady brook farms frozen whole turkey.

I cooked a pre brined turkey on thanksgiving and I did not add any salt when I used your suggestion on how to cut up and cook the turkey; however, the result was a bird that lacked flavor.

 

My question, what would be the best approach to add enough salt and other seasonings to properly flavor the bird without making it too salty? Or is that wishful thinking?

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I would season the skin with a moderate amount of salt right before cooking. Should add the amount of seasoning you'll need.

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Recognizing that brining is primarily to increase water uptake and retention as well as tenderize, does this effect how one would approach marinating? For example, would you want to decrease the time one marinates a brined pork tenderloin? I think that marinating is primarily to impart flavour, but can also tenderize if for example the marinade has a high acidity level. So could that make ones pork overly mushy if brine and then marinate? Do you need to decrease the marinate time so as not to make a mushy tenderloin, or does that depend on the marinade, i.e. acid level etc?

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I touch on this in my brining series and refer to it as "brineaids."

Marinades work by paritally dissolving muslce filaments just like the salt in a brine does, but in a marinade, you're using pH (acid or alikaline), alcohol, or enzymes to dissolve the muscle filaments. Also, marinades commonly will contain oil for flavor enhancement.

You can make a hybrid of the two by adding salt to your marinades, or adding flavorings and oil to your brine. However, the salt content should be calculated on the total weight of the ingredients in the marinade. Obviously if you make a 5% brine and then start adding other ingredients to it, your salt ratio will be thrown off.

Hope this helps.

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Ari
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Thank you!

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