My thoughts about brining,  brining versus marinating and a few brine recipes.  This web page is not intended to be a detailed explanation of brining or a comprehensive collection of brine recipes.

Click the Virtual Weber Bullet - Brining link to read the best explanation of brining that I have seen on the Internet.  Note: the link will open in a new window.

Shake's Honey Brine Fat Man's Chicken Kickin' Brine
Brine Recipe #1 (my own) Storage - Cold and Safe

Brines versus Marinades
Brining Marinating
Is the process of soaking meat in a saline solution.  The brine solution permeates throughout the meat to enhance moisture.  Other spices can be added to the saline solution to impart flavor.  Whether or not the spices impart any significant flavor is debated by some.

Personally, I believe brining improves the moisture content of poultry and very lean pork cuts.  These meats are susceptible to drying out during cooking.  The improvement in the "juiciness factor" is immediately noticeable when you cut into the meat
Is the process of soaking meat in an acidic solution, typically a vinegar and oil solution.  Other spices are usually added to the solution to impart flavor.  The meat is tenderized by the acid breaking down the cell structure of the meat.

The Fat Man's Chicken Kickin' Brine

2 Gallons Water
1 1/4 cups Pickling Salt.   I use Ball's Canning and Pickling Salt.
3 Tbs Light Brown Sugar
3 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 Tbs Chili Powder
1 Tbs Ground Sage
2 Tbs Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tbs Fresh black pepper
4 Whole Bay leaves
1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tbs Dave's Insanity Sauce
2 Tbs Italian seasoning. (Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary and Sage).  I throw in a couple of pinches of each seasoning.

Combine all the ingredients in a stock pot.  Bring to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer.  Simmer and stir frequently until all the ingredients are dissolved.  Allow to cool to room temperature before immersing the meat.

This recipe makes way too much brine for one or two chickens.  I cut the recipe in half with success.

Shake's Honey Brine

1 Cup Kosher Salt.
2 Tbs Morton Tender Quick
3 Bay Leaves
1/4 Tsp Ground Clove
1/2 Tsp Pickling Spice
1 Cup Honey
1 Gallon Water

Brine Recipe #1

This recipe is the perfect amount for one of those whole turkey breast only packages seen frequently at grocery stores.  The idea to use honey came from Shake's Honey Brine.

To see the brine in action, click >   Turkey Breast.   Note: the page will open in a new window.

1 Gallon Water
1/2 Cup Lawry's Lemon and Pepper Seasoning Salt.
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1 Tsp Ball's Pickling Spice
1 Cup Honey
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Whole Bay Leaf

Combine all the ingredients in a stock pot;  Heat, but do not bring to a boil, while stirring constantly.  After the ingredients are dissolved turn off the heat.  Allow brine to cool before using.

Storage - Cold and Safe

The most important factor is to keep the meat in a safe temperature range.

I can fit one or two chickens or one turkey in my fridge.  When I brine larger quantities then I do the following.

For 3 or 4 medium/large chickens or 2 small turkeys I use a 5 gallon "safe for food"storage container.  The "safe for food" storage container is then placed in a large cooler and ice dumped into the cooler.

> Before filling the cooler with ice and meat, place the cooler somewhere where excess water can be drained to add more ice.  It does get heavy!

> Place the meat in the food container.  Fill the food container with the brine solution.  Rock the meat to remove any air bubbles.

> Put a thermometer in a Ziploc bag and then place the bag, with the thermometer, in the food container where it is easily visible.  Seal the food container with its lid.

> Put the food container in the cooler.  Pack the cooler with ice.

> Check the temperature every so often.  Add ice as needed.  It is probably best to check frequently at first until you get a feel for how well the cooler is holding temperature.  Remember, this ain't beer that we are chilling.  Spoiled meat will make for very unhappy memories!

> The advantage of using a food container that will fit inside a cooler is I don't waste a lot of brine filling a large cooler for a small quantity of meat plus the food container is easier to clean.

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