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brining turkey in a plastic bucket

  • c

i know that generally, you're supposed to brine in a stainless steel or other-non reactive container, but i don't have a pot large enough to hold my turkey. are there any horrible adverse consequences to brining in a plastic (rubbermaid) bucket? i've been reading some online accounts about petrochemicals leaching into food. i'm not sure whether or not the bucket is food safe (it was probably more intended to be used for mopping or something like that). thoughts anyone?

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  1. no problem at all, you can also use a plastic ice chest.

    1. Or a large this garbage bag.


      1. I would second putting it into a platic bag.

        Are you going to put the whole bucket into the fridge? I saw MIng on something this week and he was cautioning about the need to keep the temperature down during the brining process. It needs to be refrigerated while brining. He suggested using a chest cooler. Put in the brine (which he made with both sugar and salt) and then adding bags of ice to keep the temperature down. Smart.

        I brined a largish roasting hen last year in a very large pottery bowl and it worked well. But I did become paranoid about cleaning a bunch of times before I used it again.

        1. Ditto the rec for plastic (or garbage) bag.

          Just make sure to double-bag so that you don't get an accident puncture.

          1. Some alternatives to a plastic bucket:

            -Try using one of your fridge's vegetable drawers to brine the turkey in.
            -Try a 16 qt or 20 qt stockpot if you have one.
            -Line the plastic bucket with a food grade plastic bag and brine in that.

            Keep the brining turkey cool.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Antilope

              I left my frozen turkey on the kitchen counter last night. This morning it is thawed but still cold to the touch. Will I kill us all or is it okay?

              1. re: pessoa

                It's fine. You will not be killed.

              2. re: Antilope

                I've always gone with the vegetable drawer approach. Won't work for a large bird, but if you can fit the sucker in there, it's great, out of the way, in the cold part of the fridge.

                I don't recommend trying to get the crisper full of turkey and brine out of the fridge as is, though. Start by taking the turkey out, and then use a bowl or pot to take pots of brine out and lighten the load before you try to pull the crisper out of the fridge and end up with your entire kitchen soaked in brine and your turkey on the floor.

                Not that I learned that from experience, or anything.

                1. re: Antilope

                  very innovative. i would never have thought about using a fridge drawer

                2. I take it that your turkey isn't the processed type (already injected), so that makes it pure fresh NSA turkey? (No Salt Added)

                  Before proceeding you should make sure your bird is very fresh. 3 days old max.

                  I would otherwise forgo the bucket process, and get a home injection kit.

                  Brining turkey is too much work and one has to follow some careful procedures- or risk sickness or perhaps the undertaker.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: RShea78

                    ah, rshea, it's not that much work. the salt in brine actually kills microbes... and i like making the brine soup. it makes my whole house smell nice. =) promise to report back if anyone dies as a result of my turkey.

                    1. re: cimui

                      Perhaps "work" was misunderstood?

                      Hassle, keeping it cold enough, preventing other food from spoiling, organizing the fridge, PITA, and so on.

                      1. re: RShea78

                        hah, i hear you. like another poster on a different thread, i pigged out and ate all my leftovers in the fridge to make room for the turkey. that was hard work. ;)

                        i'll have to try the injection method sometime, though, in part because i still find it fun to play doctor.... take the turkey's blood pressure, inject in some saline because it seems a bit low....

                  2. thanks everyone! the food-grade-liner(s)-in-a-bucket-in-the-fridge votes have it.

                    happy t-giving, all!!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cimui

                      I do mine each year in a lined bucket. Most years it's cold enough outside (at night, anyway, while I'm brining) that I can seal up and stash outside in the garage. Never had a problem.

                    2. We have always brined in a 5 gallon bucket without a linning and never had a problem. We always take out a shelf in the fridge to make room for it.

                      1. Unless you are adding a significant acid to your brine, I wouldn't worry about petrochemicals leaching into the solution. I've brined in ice chests, styrofoam and once in a rubbermaid chest and lived to tell the tale...my third arm, however, is a real head-scratcher. ;-)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JungMann

                          a dedicated arm for head scratching seems like a useful thing!

                          1. re: cimui

                            Or a good and stiff pasta spoon. Heck it is dynamite for scratching or tapping ones back. Beats a dislocated elbow or shoulder... ;-)

                        2. I use the largest zip lock bags I can find. It keeps the bird completely submerged in the brine better then a container in my opinion. It also takes up the least amount of space in the fridge. I have a 14 pound turkey and it fits in a 2.5 gallon bag. It might be harder for larger birds but I think they also sell bags just for this purpose.

                          1. I have a plastic bucket that I use every year. I fill it with very hot water and some bleach and scrub the hell out of it. Then rinse well. I've been doing it this way for years. No liner or anything, just the bucket. I put it in the fridge overnight then into the smoker the next morning. No fatalities as of yet.....

                            1. We usually put it in a trashbag and put it in our sink with a ton of ice water surrounding it. We never got sick. This year I bought a huge ziploc bag to throw the sucker in. Im going to see if I cant get it to fit in my fridge.


                              1. phew -- it eases my heart to hear about everyone else brining in plastic containers, too. for if i die younger than i otherwise would, i'll at least be in good company (all of you and all the guests i'll be taking with me)! =P

                                thanks so much to everyone and hope you all have a lovely holiday!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cimui

                                  I bought a food safe tub and lid at a restaurant supply store works great.

                                2. Last year I brined the turkey in an XXL Ziplock Bag with the whole thing placed in a cooler (the vertical kind) and the ice around and supporting the bag with the turkey. It worked great and I didn't have to clear out the fridge to do it. I could add more ice without diluting the brine at all.

                                  I'm not cooking a turkey this year, but wouldn't hesitate to do it again this way in the future.

                                  The cooler was similar to this one: