Brining means to soak in a strong salt water solution. When you brine a turkey you are increasing the bird's
capacity to hold water. The salt solution causes the muscle fibers to swell, moistening and seasoning the meat,
resulting in a tastier turkey. Surprisingly, brining a turkey does not make the turkey taste salty.
Brining a turkey is easy but you must remember to start the brining process 12 hours before you plan on roasting
the turkey. You can brine your turkey in a large container in your refrigerator. However, using a cooler to brine your
bird frees up the refrigerator for all your other holiday foods.
The Science Behind Brining a Turkey:
The challenge in roasting a perfectly cooked turkey is that there is a greater volume of white meat than dark meat and the breast meat contains a lot less fat
than the dark meat. As a result, when you roast a turkey, the breast meat takes longer to cook through than the dark meat, and with little fat to keep it tender,
the results are often a dry, stringy white meat. Brining makes the turkey meat juicier overall by increasing the amount of liquid inside the cells of the meat.
Water alone will not transport moisture into the cells of the meat. A balanced salt solution causes the muscle fibers to swell, allowing the solution to flow
into the cells. Once the liquid permeates the cell walls, it stays contained within the cell, moistening and seasoning the meat and resulting in a juicier,
The Benefits of Brining a Turkey:
1. The salty soak provides a tenderness cushion for the breast meat, so that even if it overcooks by 10 degrees
or so, it remains moist.
2. The meat of a brined turkey tastes pleasantly seasoned, which eliminates the need to season before and
3. Because the turkey sits overnight in a tub of salted water, brining also ensures that all parts of the turkey are
at the same temperature. This is good insurance if you're roasting a previously frozen bird.
4. The turkey meat absorbs water during the brining process. Water is a heat conductor and therefore
expedites cooking. Generally, a brined bird cooks faster than an unbrined one by about 30 minutes.
You can brine any fresh or thawed frozen turkey with the exceptions of Kosher
turkeys, which have already been salted, and any turkey that is self-basted or
pre-basted; these turkeys have already been injected with a salty broth.
Combine 1 cup of kosher salt, 1 cup of light brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of
whole black peppercorns. Remove giblets and neck from turkey and rinse
the bird thoroughly. Pour 1 gallon of water into your soaking container. Add
salt mixture and stir into water until dissolved.
Place turkey, breast side down into water. Add a bag of ice and additional
water to cover bird.If you are using a cooler, simply close the top. Otherwise,
place your container in the refrigerator. Soak the turkey 12 hours.
Prior to roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse it under cold water
to remove all traces of salt, inside and out. Pat the turkey dry. Proceed with
your favorite way of roasting your turkey.
For a Crisp Skin:
The night before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse
thoroughly inside and out. Pat dry. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack
over a baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours.
Allowing the turkey to sit uncovered in the refrigerator overnight before
roasting produces a bird with a crackling, crisp, brown skin. Place the turkey
in a roasting pan and brush the skin with oil or butter before roasting.