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How long can I brine a roaster?

I have a chicken brining away right now in the fridge. It's about a 4lb bird fully submerged in a brine solution of about 3.5 quarts filtered water, 6T salt, 3T sugar, and 4T apple cider vinegar.

I put it in on Tuesday. Will it be okay to brine it until Sunday, or is that too long? Turns out every night this week is getting taken away.


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  1. It's probably a bit long for quality .... but if it has been kept below 38F the entire time.... probably OK... I would have liked to see a bit more salt and acid in the brine though. Make certain you get it up to 165F when cooking it... and check well in several spots, with an instant read thermo.

    1. That is way too long. Just take the chicken out of the brine, rinse the bird off dry it and wrap it up in plastic and put it in the coldest part of your refrigerator until Sunday.

      1 Reply
      1. re: KTinNYC

        I agree it is way too long - the salt will have completely permeated the meat. The meat now being salted is partially preserved and will not go off in the remaining time. If you can spare a small piece, cut it off and cook it - say an oyster. You may need to soak the bird in fresh water to remove some salt. My guess is that it will need at least 12 hours.

        I agree with KT to dry it, but I would not wrap the bird, but leave it 'naked'. IfThe pellicle that forms helps protect it. Putting it in a plastic bag would be the worst.

        The recommended brining time for a 3 to 4lb bird is 8 to 12 hours according to my brining bible ... Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.

      2. conceivably the bird is water logged--if such a term makes sense applied to fowl. i'd be inclined to cook it right away since it might not make a reliably good sunday dinner. if it turns out to be tastey and to have a nice texture great--maybe chicken salad.

        (i've never brined a bird two days--maybe you're on to something. it is a great deal of time, though--even to soak in cold water. it'll be interesting to know the results--if you don't mind.)

        1. You may have invented the corned beef cooked chicken. Soak in cold water for an hour to draw off some of the salt. Rub with some pickling spice and braise in some beer!

          1. That is too long, but I wouldn't worry about it being too salty. Just put it on a rack over a sheet pan in the coldest part of your fridge and let the cold air circulate around it to dry it a little bit. I use this method to dry brine, instead of wet brining my poultry all the time and it makes a real juicy roaster. I usually leave it 24 - 36 hours.

            1. Berger, your concentration of salt is really low. For 1 quart of water, use 1/2 cup of salt (Diamond Kosher brand--use 2tbls less if using Morton or 1/4 cup if using table salt). With that, add 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar. Put the chicken and the brine in a "turkey roasting bag" and seal. For brining a chicken at this concentration, you really only need 2-3 hours, but 6-8 will be fine--but make sure to flush the bird by submerging it in 3-4 quarts of fresh cold water for about 5 minutes to get rid of excess salt and sugar..

              1. I've done week long "brines" before (made it Sunday, had no time during week, cooked following Sunday), and it has always turned out fine since I compensate ahead of time by making the brine less salty (though your low concentration is lower than I've ever gone). However, the vinegar might throw off things. The only way is to cook it and see - personally, my best chicken so far was a 5-day brine done with a bit of apple cider that was too tart for me to finish, so I think you might be fine. Just remember to let it air dry for a bit before roasting.

                1. NO!

                  That bird will be ruined if you brine it for that long.

                  It should only be in the brine for 4-12 hours.

                  If you take it out of the brine and let it sit, the brine will bleed from the cells and undo your work.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I DISAGREE!!

                    You can certainly take it out ahead and let the c old air circulate around it to dry out hte skin and make it a crispy roasted bird. The brine doesn't leak out and bleed. It plumps up the protein cells so the bird is juicier.