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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:45 AM   #1
jfry
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Default Brine with varying concentrations of salt

Board wouldn't let me reply to this thread: http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=111659 so I am referencing it here.

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Originally Posted by thirdeye View Post
Well, the answer is yes and no. A brine works on osmosis, the movement of molecules from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. Eventually, over time, the concentrations will reach a state of equilibrium.

So, you have salted water that you are exchanging with the liquids in meat. The meat will absorb salt and water over time, and the meat will get progressively saltier to a point, based on the strength of your brine. So, if you had an average strength brine (1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water) and you liked a particular brine time for chicken breasts (say 2 hours) it's possible that you have not reached the state of equilibrium by the time you pull your chicken out of the brine and rinsed it. If you left it in 4 hours you may notice it's saltier (and maybe my now it's reached the state of equilibrium) but you may not be able to tell much difference between a 4 hour brine time and a 6 hour brine time.
I was forced to conduct a bit of an experiment last week that tests your comments about equilibrium... and the results were fantastic. I am curious if perhaps this method yields better results than the typical brine and would love to have someone try it and compare to their typical method.

Essentially, I was preparing about 100 boneless skinless breasts for grilling and did not have a way to refrigerate. So instead I used an approximately 50/50 ice/water mix and used a large cooler to brine.

Of course because of the ice, the initial salt concentration would have been the equivalent of 2 cups/gallon, way too salty, especially with the 18 hours it was going to soak. However as the ice melted, the concentration dropped back to normal 1 cup/gallon levels.

NOTE: I did stir the bath occasionally to ensure a uniform concentration as the ice melted.

Indeed the chicken was a huge success, and while I have limited experience with brines, I am curious if this might yield even better results than a constant salinity bath. I would expect that the high concentration at the beginning would have some effect on the meat. And as long as the final concentration is where you want it to be, the meat shouldn't be too salty.

In the end, I wonder if those who have found that a particular brine results in good texture but meat that is too salty, could be served by adding some water a few hours before removing the meat from the bath. The initial salinity would be enough to make the physical changes to the meat's structure... while reducing the concentration to more palatable levels near the end would draw out the extra saltiness.

Thoughts?
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:54 AM   #2
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I personally never saw much difference to warrant brining on just breasts that a good season can't do. Whole chickens for sure. The purpose of the brine is to just add moisture while enhancing flavor. We would t have to brine if the chickens weren't grown in 3 months. There are charts for equilibrium brining all over the Internet. I have had just as good luck loosening up the skin and putting season and marinade in there. Cooking really Hott 350+ and pulling the chicken at the appropriate temp, you will never get a dry bird. I'm sure there are mixed views on this, so this is mine.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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I use a simple salt/sugar brine on anything I brine.
Ratio of 1 gal water, 1 cup Kosher Salt, 1 cup table sugar.
Scaled up or down as needed, of course.

Never found any need for any variation and never had a product that was too salty.

I have played with adding flavors, but just prefer to do my seasoning with rubs and sauces if needed (at least most of the time )

As to the old thread.
The forum software stops folks from bumping an old thread unless they have a legitimate (at least to them) reason.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:17 PM   #4
jfry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoney7269 View Post
I personally never saw much difference to warrant brining on just breasts that a good season can't do. ... The purpose of the brine is to just add moisture while enhancing flavor. ... Cooking really Hott 350+ and pulling the chicken at the appropriate temp, you will never get a dry bird.
You are pointing out all of the issues I faced. I was cooking 100 breasts cut in half (so 200 peices) on 2 coleman portable propane grills, then holding them in a warm oven until they were all done and they could be served (line was about 45min long).

We did this last year by just seasoning and grilling. It took over 2 hours to grill everything (8-10 min each) and we managed to serve some dry dull chicken; it was horribly embarrassing.

This year I used a brine in hopes of keeping some moisture after the long hold time. I also pounded them to a uniform thickness so they would cook faster and more evenly. Finally I sliced them in half so I could squeeze more on the grill.

All said, we managed to grill all of the chicken in an hour (4-5 min each), and it was moist and flavorful with nothing but seasoning in the brine. So in our case the brine served 3 purposes:
  • prevent drying out with an hour before serving
  • add flavor - easier than seasoning them individually
  • reduced cooking time by over half, when combined with flattening

All I know is that I am now a true believer in brine. Sure its not necessary in most circumstances, but it certainly does what it's supposed to do.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Kapn View Post
I use a simple salt/sugar brine on anything I brine.
Ratio of 1 gal water, 1 cup Kosher Salt, 1 cup table sugar.
Scaled up or down as needed, of course.

Never found any need for any variation and never had a product that was too salty.

I have played with adding flavors, but just prefer to do my seasoning with rubs and sauces if needed (at least most of the time )
I used the same basic recipe with some pepper corn, thyme, bay leaves, and all spice. Adding flavor to the brine allowed me to get the food on the grill faster... even a few seconds per breast adds up after a hundred of em.

And while your ratio is exactly what I was aiming for... I couldn't use it directly without some means of keeping everything cold while it soaked. This is when I thought to use ice in a cooler; but of course ice melts.

I could have put ice in baggies or something, but I thought "make the brine strong enough that the target ratio of 1 cup/gallon would be met when the ice melted" and all should be good. It was.
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Unread 02-25-2013, 09:55 PM   #6
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I make a brine that is capable of adjusting its salinity and concentration by me scolding it.


The "no.. this was not helpful" button is over there ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------->
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Unread 02-25-2013, 11:00 PM   #7
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I've done some online research on this in the past, plus some empirical research, which I ate

The minimum salt level for a brine to do it's thing is 150g/gallon of water. The volume that equals 150g. is tough to say because it depends on the salt type (Diamond brand K salt vs. Morton K salt vs. table salt) due to the size of the crystals. The ideal salt level based on research by Dr. Etstes Reynolds at the University of Georgia is 272g/gallon and Cooks Illustrated recommends 568g/gallon. In home measurements the Cooks illustrated recommended brine is 1 cup or Morton K Salt to a gallon of water. Dr. Estes recommendation is 1/2 cup Morton K salt/gallon. I've traditionally used 1 up of Morton K Salt to one gallon of water but since doing this research I have switched to 1/2 cup Morton K salt to one gallon of water. I haven't noticed any difference in the moisture level of the cooked food, but it is a little less salty.

If you're interested in the science behind brining I recommend this site...

http://www.edinformatics.com/math_sc...ng/brining.htm[/QUOTE]
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