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Salting Frozen Meat Before Defrosting

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I've read about the taste benefits of salting roasts a couple of days ahead of cooking them. Would it work to salt a frozen roast and let the dry-brining effect take place as it defrosts?

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  1. Interesting question. I wonder if the salt would actually adhere to the surface of frozen meat. Mine tends to bounce off. Possibly let the roast defrost a degree and give it a try. Can't see why it wouldn't work; you're basically brining the exterior of the meat anyway.

    1. I imagine salting a frozen roast would accomplish two things:

      1. Speed up thaw time. It won't raise the temperature much faster but since salt lowers the freezing point, the roast should "defrost" quicker than a control roast.

      2. Slow down brining time. Because colder temperatures slows the transmission of salt into the roast, it would take longer for the salt to penetrate the meat. This would mean that the outer edges of the roast would have spent more time salted than the inside.

      In real life, the effects of the above would probably not be very noticably different, but depending on how long you left the brine in, and how large the roast is, I imagine it may possibly create a texture differential between the outside and inside of the roast.

      1. It would be a waste of salt, and probably be something that would drive CindyJ to drink. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/826835

        1. I'd thaw first. Whenever I've tried to marinade or salt frozen meat the result is always underflavored. The water leaking out of the meat seems to dilute and wash away any surface flavorings.

          1. Thanks for the replies. I was thinking that as the meat starts opening up while defrosting, the salt could move in with the moisture and get the dry brining done faster than if the meat were to sit for a couple of days defrosting, then adding the salt.

            But good points about letting the exterior loosen up a bit, there being perhaps too much residual salt towards the exterior, and the texture difference. I've wondered if the change from frozen to defrosted, accompanied by salt, would change the texture either toward the mushy or dried out.

            1. What a coincidence! I just salted a 15 lbs. frozen turkey this morning. It had been defrosting in my fridge for about 14 hours but it was still solid as a rock. I am trying to do a dry salt brine. I used appx. a cup of kosher salt and left the big guy uncovered in the fridge. I'll let you know how it goes.

              5 Replies
              1. re: STO_NEAL

                Great, look forward to hearing if it works for the turkey.

                1. re: VitalForce

                  The results are in. It was a very successful experiment. A good deal of salt seems to have been absorbed into the bird even though it was still pretty frozen when I applied it. I don't know if it happened after it had thawed or while frozen but I'd guess the former. I'd do it again. Also, I wonder if it helped defrost the turkey faster...

                  1. re: STO_NEAL

                    How is that a success?

                    There's no evidence the meat wasn't brined after it had defrosted.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I was trying to see whether salting a frozen turkey would give me the same results as salting an unfrozen turkey. I put salt on a frozen turkey and when it had defrosted I threw it in the oven. Instead of two days defrosting and a day brining I accomplished both in 2 days. And it tasted good. Success.

                      1. re: STO_NEAL

                        Sounds like it worked.