Brining 1st Then Freezing Boneless Pork Loin
Couldnt resist a criovaced 9lb roast but now have to freeze for later use. $2 Bucks a pound in Southern CT.
Should I first brine the roast, (sugar + water), then freeze?
The plan is:
Brine for 4 Hours, maybe 8,
Wrap + Freeze,
Defrost then season, (cumin, all spice s+p thyme) one day in ice box,
Brown out side and cook Via Cooks Illustrated.
Another thought is to use a seasoned brine, freeze then Im good to go after defrosting.
Im a lazy bas**rd and want to cut down on preparation.
I would actually do the reverse: freeze the roast now, then brine it before you cook it. Brining plumps up the roast a bit -- I'm weak on the science, but basically it allows the protein in the pork to "hold" more moisture as it cooks. (And, of course, the salt and sugar in the brine season the meat as well).
Freezing meat causes the moisture in the meat to crystallize. (Unless you happen to have one of those super-fast industrial freezers which chill things so fast that crystals don't have time to form.) These crystals weaken the protein structure in the meat.
So, if you brine it *before* freezing it, you'll be adding extra moisture to the meat, which will worsen the problem. I think brining before freezing will either end up with extra-mushy meat, as The Rogue suggested, or possibly with really tough meat surrounded by a pool of tasty juices.
Coincidentally, I bought a big cheap pork loin a few months ago and froze it in sections. Tried cooking it several ways, but the definite winner was this weekend's: a LONG brine (5 days, rather than the 2 suggested in the recipe, mainly because I didn't plan well and only had time to cook it after 5 days), browning on the stove and then roasting in a moderate oven until the center hit 140F. Tasty and tender (including the edge parts that probably got a lot hotter than 140F). A little hammy-tasting from the brine, but I like that.
Maybe, in the interests of science, you could cut it in half and try brining-then-freezing one, and freezing-then-brining the other, then report on the results. As a service to pork-loving hounds everywhere. ;)
This is just what happend to me yesterday. I had brined a loin last fall then never got to smoking it as planned, so I wrapped it up as well as I could (several layers of foil, wax paper and freezer zip-bag) and tossed it in the freezer with high hopes. Beautiful weather in Chicago this weekend so I set up to smoke the bugger, held it around 210 for 5 hours - hard to do in that wind, let me add - anyway, what should have been a perfect smoke yielded the toughest pork loin ever seen. Imagine medallions with a lima-bean-sized center worth eating. I can't see where there was operator error yesterday, so it must have been farther up in the process. Ended up throwing the whole lot away and dishing up seconds on the turnip greens! Never again.
I would leave it in it's cryovaced package for freezing. Less chance of freezer burn and introducing more bacteria. Also freezing does enough damage to the meats cell walls. Brining does a lot as well. Doing both sounds like the possibility of making roast pork mush.
re: The Rogue
Agreed . I just rotisseried a fresh one on the grill . Also $ 2.00 a pound here in Mi . Hmmm ... But I have frozen them in the cryovac plastic and they thaw and cook just fine . I think thats what the sealed plastic is for . As for seasoning made easy , I rub with salt , pepper , garlic powder , onion powder , and sometimes Old Bay . Throw some hickory chips in the BBQ and it'll come out real tasty .
I would suggest freezing the loin without brining. Any meat that is salted (or brined) does not last very long in the freezer (in regard to taste, not safety).
Your brined pork loin would be similar to freezing bacon, which has a suggested freezer time of 1 to 2 months for the best flavor.
You can use this same advice with pork sausage, or any seasoned raw meat. It's best to freeze ground pork, then season the ground pork with your favorite sausage seasonings after you thaw it out in the refrigerator. Then cook.