Brining a Turkey

Brining a turkey involves selecting the ingredients, making a concoction out of them and soaking the meat in it for a stipulated time. Leaf through this article to understand tips on how to brine a turkey and recipes for the same.
Tastessence Staff
Just like marination, brining keeps the flesh soft and tender. Brining a turkey before cooking sounds easy, but deciding the best herbs for the brine recipe is a bit confusing. There are certain culinary spices, which you can add in the turkey brine recipe. If you know how to brine a turkey in the correct way, the rest is simply roasting or grilling in the regular way.

Brining is a way to increase moisture retention in the meat, thereby yielding soft flesh even after cooking. The salt content in the brine also allows the meat to hold more seasonings, resulting in a flavorful turkey. There are no basic rules for brining a turkey. You can adjust the salt quantity and soaking time, as per your preference. Same versatility goes with selecting the ingredients; the only thing is to use table salt and kosher in the brine recipe.

Flavorful Turkey Brine
Ingredients
  • Hot water, 8 cups
  • Ice water, 4 cups
  • Kosher salt, ⅔ cup
  • Sugar, ⅔ cup
  • Juniper berries, 1 tsp. (crushed)
  • Whole allspice berries, 2 tsp. (crushed)
  • Black peppercorns, 1 tsp. (crushed)
  • Whole cloves, 6
  • Fresh thyme, 4 sprigs
  • Fresh sage leaves, 5
  • Bay leaves, 2
Directions

In a large saucepan, combine together salt, sugar, juniper berries, allspice berries, black peppercorns, and cloves. To this, pour hot water and add thyme, sage, and bay leaves. Stir well and heat over medium high heat. Stir constantly until salt and sugar are dissolved totally. Continue boiling for 3 - 4 minutes and remove from heat. Pour iced water to this stock brine solution and wait till it reaches room temperature.

Put one large plastic oven bag inside the other to create double thickness. With their mouths open, place the plastic bags in a large bowl. Put turkey in this with the breast side down. Gently, add brine solution into this double thick bag. Then add additional 2 cups of cold water. Secure the neck of the bags, so that there is no brine leakage. If time permits, refrigerate for 12 - 24 hours. Turn the turkey during the course of brining. With this recipe, you can brine a turkey that weighs 12 pounds.

Best Turkey Brine
Ingredients
  • Vegetable stock, 1 gal.
  • Heavily iced water, 1 gal.
  • Kosher salt, 1 cup
  • Light brown sugar, ½ cup
  • Allspice berries, 1½ tsp.
  • Black peppercorns, 1 tbsp.
  • Chopped candied ginger,1½ tsp.
Directions

This is the best recipe for brining a young turkey, weighing 14 - 16 pounds. In a large stockpot, add vegetable stock, kosher salt, brown sugar, allspice berries, peppercorns, and candied sugar. Put it over medium high heat and bring to a boiling temperature. You can stir the mixture with a long-handled spatula to ensure complete dissolving of the ingredients. Remove from heat and allow to cool down.

As you plan to cook turkey, soak it in brine overnight or whole day. What you can do is take a 5 gallon bucket and combine together brine solution and iced water. Immerse already thawed turkey into this solution, ensuring that the breast part is facing down. Leave it like that in a cool area, or if possible, refrigerate it for at least 8 hours. At the time of cooking, remove turkey from the brine and rinse thoroughly with cold water.