The Science of Brining

There are so many brining recipes out there, which has made “brining” a popular buzz word. But what does brining really mean? What’s the science behind it and how does brining work?

brine_comboThe Science Behind Brining

It’s actually simple. Turkey, pork and shrimp are all extremely susceptible to over cooking. Which obviously means dry, tough results. Quite frankly, any kind of meat or fish can have a leathery taste and quality if overcooked. This is where the magic of brining comes into play.Bird Brine Seasoning

The simple science behind brining is to pump moisture, via a salt and water solution, into the meat. The resulting hydration helps to ensure a moist and juicier result. Think of brining as a moisturizing bath. Now here is where the fun part starts. Because the brining solution is a hydrator, it’s also a flavor injector, and that opens up an entire world of flavor possibilities.

Firstly, The Spice & Tea Exchange® Bird Brine is our “go-to” for well-rounded flavor. Capturing sweet brown sugar with warm savory cinnamon, ginger and all-spice. The addition of Star Anise adds a unique licorice note, along with bold peppercorn flavors. Since it is pre-measured, we’ve taken care of all the guess work.

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Enhance Brine Flavors with Tea or Spices

Cranberry Apple Tart TeaNext up, tea. Because tea isn’t just for tea anymore. Think of your favorite cup, now as the flavor profile for brining any meat. The Spice & Tea Exchange® Cinnamon Plum Herbal Tea or Cranberry Apple Tart Herbal Tea will add new sweet & earthy dimension to not only turkey and chicken, but also pork and duck. The Spice & Tea Exchange® Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea adds intense yet smooth balanced structure to lemongrass and bright citrus, for most any meat especially fish and shrimp. Simply add the tea leaves directly to the brining liquid.

Don’t forget The Spice & Tea Exchange® Spice Blends. Herb Turkey Rub is loaded with powerful yet traditional herbs and spices. Herb Turkey RubAdd it to your brining liquid, or as an additional moisture and flavor enhancer. Mix Herb Turkey Rub with mayonnaise or softened butter. After you have brined and rinsed your bird off, slather this mixture liberally over the outside as well as under the skin and don’t forget inside the cavity as well. The extra fat from mayonnaise or butter ensures an additional level of luxurious flavor.

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Brining Techniques

Lastly, let’s talk technique. The easiest way to think of the “how-to” is dissolve your brining mix into a large amount of boiling water or vegetable stock (usually 1-2 gallons depending on size of bird). Add any additional tea leaves or spice blend at that time. Remove liquid from heat and allow to fully cool to room temperature. At this point you will want to chill the liquid in Checking Turkey Temperaturethe refrigerator or add ice for a quick chill. Place your bird or meat into a water tight vessel or triple lined thick garbage bags and fill to cover with chilled brining liquid. Place in refrigerator between 8 and 24 hours, then carefully remove bird or meat from liquid, rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. You are now ready to cook as desired.

Additional tips and tricks at this point may include draping a turkey or wrapping pork loin with strips of bacon (think of the awesome drippings this will create for gravy). Placing your bird or meat into an oven roasting bag will create one more layer of protection and flavor. Just remember to slit the bottom of the bag to allow drippings to fall into your roasting pan. Pulling the bag down around and off during the last 30 minutes of cooking will ensure proper browning and a golden skin. As always, be sure to fully cook any bird, with white meat registering 165˚and dark 175˚. Letting your bird or meat rest, covered by a loose layer of aluminum foil for 15-20 minutes will help any juices to soak back into the meat.

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by Chef Stefan

Chef StefanAbout the Chef: Chef Stefan is the Corporate Chef for The Spice & Tea Exchange®. Currently, co-owner of the San Francisco and Portland locations, Stefan is also a passionate food lover, trained chef, and culinarian. Stefan advanced both his culinary skills and knowledge of global flavors through his passion for traveling (60+ countries around the world). His formal education spans from San Francisco’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy to San Francisco Baking Institute and S.F. Cooking School.

Post Author: Spice & Tea

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