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SmokinOkie 11-03-2009 10:27 AM

Brining 202 -- Whether to Brine an Already Enhanced Birds
Given the great group here, wanted to throw some info out for comment; I thought I'd throw out some information I'm working on for Brining 202 -- the sequel and get your feedback/comments/questions. From a food science perspective, I'm trying to give out real information and gain your questions and comments about doing this.

Every year, since I wrote Brining 101, I get more questions on this topic than any other:

Can I brine an Enhanced Bird?

There has been a lot of discussion over the years about right/wrong and like so many things, people will have their personal preference.

Here's my take. Sorry it's long, just trying to talk a little food science and educate.

It will work, but....

Keep in mind, what makes brining work is Osmosis.

Osmosis is the passage of water (or salt water for brining purposes) from a region of high water concentration through a semi-permeable membrane to a region of low concentration .

Because whatever we're brining has a low concentration (meat) that is what drives brining to do as well. One factor that affects it's efficiency appears to be the salinity.

The salinity inside will be XX% and the brine will be XX% (numbers will vary) thus determining which region has higher water concentration. Osmosis means as long as the % inside is lower than the outside, then the brine (outside) will exchange with the solution inside. You can't just soak an item in a tub of water and it takes on the water, because the salinity/solution inside the bird has to be less than the salinity/solution outside the bird (brine).

So, with that logic, if the enhanced bird is already saturated, it CAN'T take on anything from the brine because it won't accept something from the lower percentage of the brine.

If the enhanced bird has a lower percentage and the brine has a higher, then the brine will work. But if it's concentration is high, then likely the brine won't really have an effect at all, as the bird is already saturated (especially on the highly enhanced birds).

The only thing I've not been able to determine is the % of salinity in the brine and the bird, and the true impact, but talking with food scientists, they tell me the above two cases are "supposed" to work. So I have't come up with an exact point where you should/shouldn't brine an enhanced bird.

For me.

I've experimented a lot and if it's 15% or less, I'll brine it normal. Same time, same solution, same flavors. Family and friends haven't found any issue with normal brine times, affects on texture or taste.

You should also try to determine the "type" of solution they injected; it may be water, broth or a salt solution (brine).

Over 15% I'd say don't by the bird at all and don't brine, you're paying for a LOT of liquid. You may think it's cheaper, but look at the real costs.

Now, what I'd really like to find out is if you can decrease the salinity of an enhanced bird (say a 25%) by soaking it in water and drawing out some, but that's a test for another day.

What I usually recommend is to practice. I've tried to research, test, talk, as much as I can about brining and create a spot with as much info and then let you decide. Personally, a lot of people talk bad about brining but don't understand the science part of it but they're 100% correct, if it doesn't work for them, that's okay.

NEVER wait until the big day to do your first bird. Get one, try it and see how it works for you. The prices are relatively cheap. Shoot, I'm doing one this weekend for practice/testing.

Question: Have any of you brined an enhanced bird, what was your take?


bigabyte 11-03-2009 12:06 PM

I have brined enhanced birds using a strong brine and it seemed to take. As you mentioned, a weaker brine is just wasting time.

As for drawing out salt using water, I have a thought about that (not facts, just a thought). It might draw out some excess salt, but I am thinking that if some of the molecules of salt and water truly are "trapped" in the strands of proteins, then those would not come up from a soak. It will be interesting to see what you come up with for sure.

Thanks for sharing, and keep us posted!:cool:

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