View Full Version : When Do You Brine?

11-29-2004, 04:27 AM
Here's one I hope some Brothers can answer. I've heard and read about the subject of "Brining". What is the purpose of it, and what meats do you brine? Fish and poultry maybe, but wouldn't it over salt beef or pork? Is it a necessary prelude to good Q?

Thanks for the help!


11-29-2004, 07:11 AM

You can brine for 2 reasons, to prevent dryness and to add flavor. Poultry obviously needs the extra moisture, butts are good on moisture but can be improved flavor wise by brining. Briskets being a bit tougher would seem to benefit more by marinating (marinating being different from brining in that there is an acidic element in the mix).
I think you would really have to over do the salinity of the mix or the brining time to make salt a big problem.

11-29-2004, 10:23 AM
Jef: you ask a very good question; one that we should explore further; especially since there is a significant amount of confusion regarding the subjects of brining versus curing; even amongst us apparently.

The fundamental purpose of brining/curing is the prevention of bad sheit that can kill you like botulism. Sodium nitrates and nitrites also add that characteristic ham flavor.

Fortunately, there is plentiful and detailed information on the subject freely available over the internet. Check out the following links:


11-29-2004, 10:42 AM
J-Lo brines her butt. That's why it's juicy!

If it works for her it works for me!

Seriously I brine my pork butts and they have never been salty. They take on other flavors in the brine more so than the salt in my opinion.

11-29-2004, 12:25 PM
Brining can be a cure if there is a cure in the brine ie: ham and bacon is brined or dry cured but a brine witout a cure is for moisture and flavor as kcquer stated.
Brisket can be cured as in corned beef but injecting can do more good for flavor an moisture.

11-29-2004, 12:32 PM
Jim, your starting to type like me. :)

Took this from our FAQ section. Seek and ye shall find. :)

Brining is soaking a meat in a solution of liquid (usually water)
and salt. It works to keep meat moist by two things:
1. Diffusion- the higher concentration of salt (and sugar or
what ever else) will go from the higher concentration in the
liquid to the lesser concentration inside the meat cells.
2. Osmosis- the higher concentration of water (or apple juice
or whatever liquid used) outside will migrate to the lesser
concentration inside the meat cells.
Okay, now all this stuff is sopped up (not a technical term) into
the meat. The salt/sugar cause the proteins to unwind and relax.
They tend to intermingle into a sticky web of protein (yum...)
that holds the water inside the meat. When you cook the meat,
the protein gels and physically holds the water inside.
Your question is about the sugar. The sugar is used mainly
to cut the salty taste of brining. You can brine without sugar,
but try to cut back on the salt concentration. You can also
use apple juice mixed with the water and salt to cut down on
the salt taste. Since I am an idiot about reduced sugar diets,
you will have to figure out what you can put in your brine. I hope
that this helps a bit. Sorry to be obtuse to your question, but
maybe you can whup up (Texan for "create") a brine solution
that we can all try out. (no margarita mix I hear) <BG>

The rule of thumb and a basic brine....

Use only enough water or liquid you need to cover the food. Measure it by putting the food in the brining container, covering it with plain water until covered, remove the food and measure how much water you used, then.....

1/2 to one cup of kosher or seasalt.
and 1 cup of brown sugar(optional)
to every gallon of water(or liquid of your choice)

then add..... herbs, fruits, vegetbles, maple syrup, honey, molasass fruit juices... WHATEVER!! Be creative.

if your using fruit juices reduce the amount of water accordingly, or use the fruit juice in place of the water

11-29-2004, 01:37 PM
Phil I always type this bad.

11-29-2004, 05:39 PM
Gentlemen, and I suppose I should use the term loosely (LOL). Your depth and breadth of knowledge never ceases to astound.

I am assuming that once it is in a Brining container that it needs to be refrigerated. Also, no one mentioned any length of soaking time? I know that I usually put my dry rub on it the night before, and then a second coat immediately prior to placing the meat in the cooking chamber. How would that work, if I were to include brining?

The Brothers are sure to make my Holiday Barbeque Bash, the best ever!!! And to think, I thought I knew how to Q!

Thanks to all!

Jeff in Florida

11-29-2004, 06:36 PM
I brine at least overnight for a Pork Butt and sometimes for 2 days. I do mine in the fridge but you can also do it in a cooler (did my turkeys in a cooler this year. I hope you have a great party and take lots of pics for us.

11-29-2004, 06:46 PM
Also, no one mentioned any length of soaking time?

You'll have to do some searches here on the site and on the web to find specific times. As a rule of thumb the size of the cut will dictate how long to brine. Big ol' pork butt will take over night to a couple days like mista sez, chicken breasts a couple hours will do.

11-29-2004, 07:04 PM
Jeff an ideal temp would be around 38 degrees, refrigeration is a must in most cases.
It depends on the meat to how long it needs to brined. A turkey 24 to 48 hours is fine, chickens 6 to 24 hours is plenty. The more salt in the brine recipe can cut those times down.
On big meats like beef and ham it can take days and dry cures even a few days longer.

11-29-2004, 08:08 PM
Here's one I hope some Brothers can answer. I've heard and read about the subject of "Brining". What is the purpose of it, and what meats do you brine? Fish and poultry maybe, but wouldn't it over salt beef or pork? Is it a necessary prelude to good Q?

Thanks for the help!


Jeff, I "Brined" a frozen Butter Ball turkey after it was defrosted, drove all over looking for the "right kind of salt" and made a hell of a mess only to find out later that Butter Ball Brines as part of their frozen turkey processing. I will just keep buying Butter Ball turkeys and save the mess clean up. It not worth the extra effort IMHO, spinning a turkey is the best way to go and briskets are great without it as well, just rub'em and fat cap down.

11-29-2004, 08:35 PM
I brine for another reason. Any time you get a bad case of chiggers you should brine yourself in the bath tub. After that daub th bad spots with Absorbine Jr. (be sure not to use Absorbine because it is for horses).

11-29-2004, 09:14 PM
My brining info.

Some important stuff that has been missed in this thread. Number one, I think jminion touched on, brining must be done in the fridge.

I always brine my birds. period. Lends to juiciness and flavor. Unless they come already brined. Read the package.

Basic brine. Start with this and then add from there. 1 gallon of water gets 1/2 cup of coarse kosher salt, and 1 cup of brown sugar. Kosher is the important part. The salt can not contain iodide or it will dry out the meat. Sea salt can also be used, but you have to look at the lable. Sometimes they add iodide to the sea salt. Not containing iodide is the key.

I brine for somewhere between 18 to 24 hours. This is just for poultry. I have never brined anything else. And for god's sake, do it in the fridge like I said before.

11-29-2004, 09:22 PM
Greg great point the 40 to 140 danger zone temps do apply.

11-29-2004, 09:49 PM
Should we be measuring salt by weight instead of by volume.?

Seems to me that grains that are coarser and flakier(kosher) wouldn't pack as tightly into a measuring cup as table salt.

11-29-2004, 10:07 PM
Rule of thumb is 1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 to 3/4 cup table salt.
The test on a brine is will it float an egg.

11-29-2004, 10:20 PM

I'm new to this BBQ stuff, but I do love to cook.

More advanced baking recipes often call for weighing the dry ingredients.

Big Mista mentioned the egg trick. I'll have to try that.

Is pickling salt just table salt without iodine?

11-29-2004, 10:47 PM
I use 1/2 cup coarse kosher, that is why I stipulated. If you have fine salt then use less. I started originally with 1 full cup, but left to much of a salt taste and ended up dropping to 1/2 cup coarse. NEVER use table salt.

11-29-2004, 10:47 PM
for brining.. kosher salt is fine.. if its course ground you will need a little more in a dry measurment..