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Sep 7, 2005 05:12 PM

Defrosting meat in a brine questio n

  • m

I meant to defrost some pork chops over night and put them in a brine before i went to work this morning but i forgot to leave them out last night. So this morning i placed the chops directly in the brine. Will defrosting them in the brine have a negative effect on the end result?


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  1. I can't answer your question, but I can give you (and perhaps others who read this message) something to ponder:

    any food that's not obviously dry, such as vegetables, fruits, or meat, contains water. When any food containing water is frozen, the water expands and breaks the cell walls. That's why such food becomes so limp. When you defrost frozen food, you will always notice "extra" water.

    IOW, the water is forced out of the food, and some damage to the cell structure of the food takes place. How that affects brining, I don't know, exactly, but I'm sure it will alter what happens to un-frozen food that's been brined. I wonder if the food will tend to absorb salt.

    IAC, I find that food that's been frozen and then defrosted, loses a considerable amount of flavor as a result of the process, so I try never to buy any food that's been frozen, and never to freeze any food, unless it's an emergency.

    1. Actually, that would be my preferred method of brining. I'll often do that with chicken - just throw a frozen chicken into a pot of brine and let it defrost. I think it actually works better.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nyleve

        Did exactly that last night and was delighted with the resulting roast chicken. Be sure to dry the chicken very thoroughly if you want a crisp-skinned bird.

      2. I did that last year with the Thanksgiving turkey. Defrosted it in a 20 quart stock pot filled with brine to cover. Best turkey ever and it defrosted in much less time. We may be onto something here.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Just Larry

          I have an emegency. I came down with the flu a few days ago, and will have to buy my turkey today. Do you think I have any chance of defrosting it in time, with the brining method. Thanksgiving dinner has to be cooked buy 4pm that day. Be Honest, it's my first thanksgiving..

        2. I've done that many times, to very good results. Just remember that when the meat is frozen, it isn't getting any of the brine. in other words, if you throw in a frozen piece of meat into a brine and pull it out 6 hours later, the result is not the same as if you had thrown a thawed piece of meat in a brine for 6 hours. When frozen, liquid isn't being "exchanged."

          What all that means is that if you need to brine for 4 hours, if you throw it in frozen, you'll need more time. The one negative, is that you get an uneven brine when thawing and brining at the same time because the outer parts of the meat are getting more time brining than the inner parts (since the inner is frozen longer than the outside).

          All that said, I've had good results doing this. However, I may just thaw in water, then brine, so ensure more even brining...

          1 Reply
          1. re: adamclyde

            i've had good results thawing chicken and pork in a brine. if the meat is partially frozen, i go with my standard brine for slightly longer than called for. if still rock hard, i reduce the sodium concentration (and sugar and other add-ins if using), but leave it in overnight. that way i don't wind up with an overly salty outside.

          2. My local grocery store had a special on some really nice looking pork chops, two packages of four chops, buy one get one free. So even though I normally cook for two, I bought two pack. That night I cooked two (which were wonderful) and froze the other 6. A few days later I took two more chops out and put in the fridge to thaw, and after thawing completely I cooked them the same way as I cooked the first two. They were nowhere near as good. Tougher and much drier. I expected some degradation from freezing them, but this was a lot. So the next two I took out, I thawed in a brine, and again cooked them the same way. They were every bit as good as the first two, tender, moist and flavorful. I've always thawed frozen turkey in a brine before thanksgiving, but never thought to do it with other meats. After my pork chop experience, I will now always thaw chicken and pork this way too.