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Nov 26, 2008 04:58 AM

Can I defrost my turkey in brining liquid?

I'm going to need to soak my turkey to get it defrosted for tomorrow. I figured I could kill 2 birds with one stone by also brining, but there's alot of chemistry going on here (frozen meat, the brine itself). Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Ive put a turkey that is a bit frozen down into the brine before (so called fresh turkeyes are usually semi-frozen, but I would wnat to thaw the turkey at least partially (in its plastic wrapper) before brining it. You also want to get the giblets and neck out before brining. I dont have a scientific basis for my view, but it takes longer to thaw the turkey than a good brining time would take - and while the turkey would not take up brine while it was frozen, the outer part which would thaw faster might spend longer in the brine than is optimal before the inner part thaws.

    1. In the past, I've brined still partly frozen birds, but I've never put in a solid frozen turkey. Dunno how that'd turn out for you, but I'd think it -might- work if you left it in long enough. Let us know how it goes! :)

      1. I kind of hedged my bets and used a weak brine (kind of diluted). Turkey turned out great.
        Thanks for your help.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JCap

          I was thinking from a thawing standpoint, it might work fine. Best way to thaw is in cold water...and as liquid leaves the bird during thawing, the bird takes up the salted liquid. Interesting.

          I don't have the info handy about the physics/fluid dynamics/osmotic process of this but imagine this might be a very easy way to, um, kill two birds with one stone.

          Wrangling off the plastic wrapper while the boid is still frozen might be a challenge...

        2. I'm sure this is bad form, but here is some posted info from Cook's Illustrated on combining the steps. it only refers to small pieces, but sounds like the science works! Glad to hear it worked out!

          Brining Meat While Defrosting

          If you freeze small cuts of meat, submerging it in a bucket of cold water on the counter speeds up the defrosting process. For recipes where the first step is a brine, we wondered if we could combine two steps into one by defrosting the meat directly in the brine. We partially thawed frozen chicken parts in fresh water, then completed the last half hour of thawing in the brine solution called for in the pan-roasted chicken recipe we were following. When cooked, the chicken was as well-seasoned and juicy as chicken that had been fully defrosted before brining.

          Further testing showed that the same method can be used for any recipe that calls for brining small- to medium-sized pieces of meat. Simply cut the defrosting time by the amount of brining time the recipe calls for. For example, if your pork chops need to thaw for an hour and your recipe calls for a 45-minute brine, thaw the chops in fresh water for 15 minutes, then brine for 45 minutes.