Your Guide to Brining

Brining is a simple technique that will guarantee juicy, flavorsome food every time. Sammy & Bella provide their top tips.

Brining is a great technique for keeping moisture in food that has the tendency to dry out. It's incredibly simple but requires a little pre-planning. This minimal effort technique will guarantee juicy, flavorsome food every time! 

Brining is a technique most commonly used with meats, fish and poultry, but can also be used with vegetables. It’s a process that has been used for many years when high levels of salt were used to preserve meats before refrigeration was available. These days brining or salt curing is not only used for preservation but to help infuse other flavours into meats and help keep them moist when cooking.

The chemistry is quiet simple.  Foods already contain water and salt naturally, so by immersing them into a brine of a higher salt concentration, the brine is absorbed right to the core. Thus adding more moisture the food and keeping it that way while cooking.

To start off you first need to determine how much liquid you are going to need to cover your food in brine. To do this put the meat into its brining container and this container can be almost anything that will fit your meat in it with out having to make to much brine to fill it up. Ideally use containers, cricks, stainless steel bowls, or resealable bags.

Once you know how much water and salt you will need, bring 1:2 parts of salt:water to the boil to dissolve the all the salt you need, at this point you can add any aromats you would like to infuse the flavour with. Once boiling remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Add in the remaining water to cool the mixture and allow to cool completely before adding any meat. You don’t want to cook the meat in your brine.

Once cooled add in your meat and use a plate with a weight to keep the meat submerged in liquid. It is important that no part of the meat is exposed to the air and that is where bacteria is most likely to grow. Salty water will prevent bacteria from growing but in needs to be fully submerged.

Brining times will vary for different meat, poultry or seafood. As a basic rule you should brine foods for 1 hour for every 500g. This rule applies the size of the meat. So if you’re brining a kilo of scallops that wont take 2 hours as each individual piece is much smaller. See the below table for some examples.

Meat Brine Time
Large prawns 20 minutes
Scallops 10-15 minutes
Whole chicken 2kg 4-5 hours
Pork tenderloin whole 12 hours

Once meat is properly brined remove it from its container. If you used a higher salt ratio then you may choose to wash it under cold running water otherwise you can portion it and start cooking. When brining poultry however, you may want to achieve a crispy skin on a roast. So at this point you can put the bird into the fridge over night to help dry out the skin or pat dry with a paper towel.

And now you’ll be ready to cook your brined meat to perfection!

Summary: How to Brine

1. First determine how much liquid you are going to need to cover your food to brine.
2. Next create a brine that is 6% salt to water. For example 300g salt to 5 liters of water
3. Place chosen meat, fish, poultry or vegetables in a container or plastic bowl. Avoid using metal bowls. The size of your food will determine how long it needs to brine for. As a general rule, for every 500g of meat, brine for 1 hour. A whole chook could take over night and a scallops shouldn’t take more then 15 mintues. Make sure the food is fully submerged in the water with a plate or bowl to weight it down.
4. After brining, remove and strain. Pat down with paper towel to dry.

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