The practice of brining has been used for centuries. Originally used for food preservation, brining is becoming more popular as technique to add flavor and tenderness to a variety of meats. Whether you are cooking shrimp, pork chops, chicken breasts, or a whole turkey, brining can be a great option. Brining can even be used to enhance the flavor of tofu!
What is Brining
Brining simply means soaking a protein in a water and salt solution, as known as the brine. Often, brines contain many other ingredients, like herbs and citrus, to infuse even more flavor into proteins. In addition to the base flavors of pepper, onion and garlic, our Brining Spices contain herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage, along with the citrus flavors of lemon and orange.
According to research published in the Journal of Food Science, the salt in the brine dissolves a bit of the protein in the muscle fibers, and allows the meat to absorb the brine and retain moisture during cooking. This makes the poultry juicier, more tender and improves the flavor.
Remember, brining only works with fresh proteins. Pre-brined turkey (most store-bought turkeys) and cured ham will not benefit from brining.
No matter what protein you happen to be brining, follow these simple steps:
- Choose a container: You will need a food-safe container with enough room to completely submerge your protein in liquid. We recommend a large stock pot with lid, baking dish with lid or large zip top bag.
- Measure the liquid: Measure out how much liquid you’ll need to submerge the protein in the container. See Brining Proportions below for suggested amounts of liquid and brining mix for your specific protein.
- Prepare the brine: Bring 1 quart of water and appropriate amount Brining Mix to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Amount of mix will depend on how much liquid is needed to submerge your protein. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. You can place your container in an ice bath to speed up cooling.
- Refrigerate: Place protein in container. Pour cooled brine over protein then top with enough water to submerge the protein. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour per pound of protein. Place a plate or similar on top to weigh the protein down and keep it submerged
If using pieces of protein, use the average weight of the individual pieces, not the total weight, to calculate the brine time. For example, if you are brining 4 (8 oz.) chicken breasts, you would use a brine time of 30 minutes (for 8 oz.), not 4 hours. Shrimp should be brined no longer than 30 minutes, otherwise they can become over seasoned.
Remove protein from brine and pat dry. Rub with your favorite seasoning and grill, sear, or roast, then enjoy!
Brining Proportions & Brine Times
- For Fish & Shrimp: 6 Tbsp (about 2 oz) Brining Spices per 1-quart liquid
- For Pork Roast & Chicken Pieces: 3/4 cup (about 4 oz) Brining Spices per 2-quarts liquid
- For Whole Chicken & Ribs: 1 1/2 cups (about 8 oz) Brining Spices per 1-gallon liquid
- For Whole Turkey & Brisket: 3 cups (about 16 oz.) Bringing Spices per 2-gallons liquid
Looking for something different from traditional Brining Spices? Try our Pickling Spice for a sweeter, spicier flavor. Our Pickling Spice is perfect for Corned Beef and gives a unique flavor to turkey and pork roast. This mix can be used in the same ratios as our Brining Spices.
Brining time should equal 1 hour per pound of protein.
- Whole Turkey (12 to 15 lbs): 12 to 15 hrs brine time
- Beef Brisket (5 to 10 lbs): 5 to 10 hrs brine time
- Beef or Pork Ribs (3 to 6 lbs): 3 to 6 hrs brine time
- Whole Chicken (4 to 5 lbs): 4 to 5 hrs brine time
- Chicken Pieces* (8 oz to 1 lb each): 30 min to 1 hr brine time
- Pork Roast (3 to 5 lbs): 3 to 5 hrs brine time
- Pork Chops *(8 oz to 1 lb each): 30 min to 1 hr brine time
- Fish Steaks/Filets*(8 oz to 1 lb each): 30 min to 1 hr brine time
- Shrimp** (1 to 2 lb total): 15 to 30 min brine time
- Tofu (1 lb total): 1 hr brine time
*If using pieces of protein, use the average weight of the individual pieces, not the total weight, to calculate the brine time. For example, if you are brining 4 (8 oz.) chicken breasts, you would use a brine time of 30 minutes (for 8 oz.), not 4 hours.
**Shrimp should be brined no longer than 30 minutes or they risk being over seasoned.