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This Thanksgiving, Brine and Dine

Last week, I asked how many of you were planning to brine your turkeys this year. Although more than half of you responded yes, at least 20 percent of you weren't sure what a brine was!

For those of you who didn't know, brining is a cooking technique often used to maximize juiciness in cooked poultry and meat, and it's particularly popular with Thanksgiving turkeys. Various techniques recommend soaking turkey anywhere from six hours to three days in a brine, a saltwater solution that often includes herbs and sweeteners (like our must-have version). To understand how brining works,


The salt in a brine's saline solution moves into the meat, and water from the turkey meat into the brine, in a process called osmosis. The salt then breaks down the muscle proteins, making room for more water and salt. As a result, water and salt can move freely from the brine into the meat, creating an especially tender, juicy bird that can be up to 10 percent more than its original weight.

Some experts, such as foremost food scientist Harold McGee, eschew brining in favor of traditional roasting, arguing that brined meat tastes less flavorful. Still others favor a technique referred to as "dry brining," in which the turkey gets a salt massage several days in advance.

If you're brining for the first time, follow basic instructions for a quick brine. If you're interested in trying something more complex, opt for one of these brined turkey recipes.


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Join The Conversation
mtiger mtiger 7 years
I can't wait til tomorrow!
Powerpuffgirl Powerpuffgirl 7 years
I don't care how it works, but it works well! I'm trying an apple cider brine for my turkey this year. I just finished putting them in the fridge!
fourthice fourthice 7 years
I'm pretty sure in Osmosis only the water moves to the place with the higher concentration of salt and the salt doesn't move at all.
ilanac13 ilanac13 7 years
i was watching 'dear food network' the other day and they were talking about brining turkeys - so now i have a better idea of what this process is and how it works and what the benefits are. i don't think that it's a process that i would use since i don't cook turkey but i guess it does have it's good points.
wren1 wren1 7 years
I'm trying it for the first time this year :)
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 7 years
I brined last night and just cooked two birds to perfection this evening. Incidentally, my friends are all VULTURES. Nonetheless, the turkeys came out fantastic, and the brine was key.
lady_jade lady_jade 7 years
Ahhhh I am so ready for thanksgiving! I'm going to get my brine on tonight! I didn't know you could brine so far in advance, I usually just do 24 hours...good to know!
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