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Turkey: Minimum Brine Time

Elaine (Snutteplutten) Nov 19, 2005 09:24 AM

I just found out that the farmer who's delivering our turkey won't be able to have it ready until 6:00 p.m. on Weds. In the past, we've found that brining does produce a juicier bird, but we've usually brined for 24 hours. Since the turkey needs to be in the oven by 11:00 am, I'd say we have realistically about 14 hours of time in the brine.

Is it still worthwhile? Thanks.

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  1. c
    chileheadmike Nov 19, 2005 09:45 AM

    I usually brine for about 12-14 hours. You should be fine.

    1. j
      Joe MacBu Nov 19, 2005 10:53 AM

      I've seen a 4-hour brine recipe. I think it's from Cook's Illustrated, but don't have the recipe on hand. It's just got much more salt than the overnight brine, and end result is similar.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joe MacBu
        Joe MacBu Nov 19, 2005 11:48 AM

        From Cook's Illustrated:

        2 cups table salt
        2 gallons cold water

        Refrigerate for 4 hours. Rinse off, pat dry, then air dry for >8 hours to produce crispier skin.

      2. c
        Carb Lover Nov 19, 2005 01:43 PM

        I've heard that a little sugar helps the brine to penetrate better, so you might find a turkey brine recipe w/ a little sugar. It shouldn't make the turkey sweet if it's a relatively small amount. You could also increase your salt to water ratio a bit.

        Even though I'm not doing a wet brine this year, I learned from last year that you should dissolve everything w/ heat instead of just mixing together and putting in the bird. Of course, the brine should be cooled before adding the turkey. Also learned that a good brine has alot of seasonings like juniper berries, citrus peel, rosemary, etc. since this gives it the FLAVOR.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Carb Lover
          Sandy Nov 21, 2005 04:04 PM

          Thanks for the info, I have brined a turkey, but never put herbs in the brine, I'll try that this year.

          1. re: Sandy
            winegirl1973 Nov 20, 2007 02:59 PM

            I'm making my first turkey this year, and I'm convinced about the brine, but I'm confused about the ingredients. CI Best Recipe is 4 cups kosher sale, 4 cups sugar (this seems like a LOT?) and 2 gallons of cold water. I just watched a Martha Stewart clip where she puts butter and white wine in her brine, the Alton Brown recipe uses vegetable stock, and many of them use apple cider (not sure if I want my turkey to taste like apples?). Has anyone tried these?
            Martha also used cheesecloth on top, which seems wierd, but is definitely easier than flipping the turkey (starts out baking breast side down, then on each side, then finally breast side up) -- any experience with either?

            Also, any preference between Hoka and Bell & Evans turkeys?

            1. re: winegirl1973
              eamcd Nov 20, 2007 06:14 PM

              I've used the Alton Brown brine for several years. There's a whole thread on it on this board if you search. The herbs and seasonings add flavor but the turkey is NOT sweet or overly "herby." The sugar helps hold the moisture (with the salt) and also helps with the browning of the skin.

              1. re: eamcd
                winegirl1973 Nov 26, 2007 09:24 AM

                My friend and I both used the same recipe (which is actually 2 cups sugar, not four) with the same result -- moist turkey, but too salty. I'm making another one in a couple weeks and this time I'll either try the Alton Brown recipe or cut the salt and sugar in half. It's also good to keep the brine in mind when you're prepping the stuffing and the gravy, as it makes both of them saltier as well.

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