Brining Basics

Brining works like this:  via the process of osmosis, water, or moisture, is ‘injected’ in a less moist place.   The salt actually changes the shape of the meat proteins to allow them to hold more juice than un-brined meat or poultry.  Salt actually makes each cell plump up.  Brining is used most on lean meats, such as pork, chicken or turkey.

Brining is the natural, and extremely easy solution to dry meat.  You can actually over-cook your turkey and it will still be juicer than a perfectly cooked turkey that wasn’t brined. Brining essentially alters the cells of the meat to allow them to hold water, the resulting finished dish is more juicy.

Brining can make your meat inedible if the meat is brined for too long or the brine is too strong.


There are some basic rules when brining:

Always brine meat under refrigeration.

Never reuse a brine

When possible allow meat to rest to allow the salt to redistribute.

Here is a basic brine recipe that can be used for pork, turkey or chicken:


4 Litres of Water

1 cup of KOSHER salt


1/2 cup sugar (this balances the flavour)

Optional Seasoning:  peppercorns, chopped rosemary or thyme, juniper berries, bay leaves, coriander seeds, garlic, and aromatic vegetables such as onion, carrot and celery, roughly chopped.


Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled  (option:  use 1/2 the amount of water and cool quicker by removing from heat and adding 2 L of ice cubes).  The amount of brine depends on what you are doing.  The brine must cover the meat entirely


Here are brine times:

Boneless Chicken Breasts: 2 Hours

Thick Pork Chops: 2 hours

2 lb chicken: 4 hours

3-4 lb chicken: 8-12 hours

4 lb pork loin roast: 12 hours

10-15 lb turkey: 24 hours

15+ lb turkey: 24-36 hours

Fish Filet: 1 hour for thin, 6-8 for thick steaks


After brining, allow 2 hours or up to a day out of the salt to that it can rest to allow the salt remaining in the flesh to distribute itself evenly.  Remember, brining acts as a preservative as well, so your meat or poultry will have a much longer shelf life.

A tip for large turkeys:  Make your brine as usual and place in a large cooler; add your turkey and top with ice, so essentially your turkey is covered in an icy brine.  This solves the problem of not enough fridge space to brine your bird for 24 hours.