HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Brining Vessel?

What is a safe container to brine our 18 lb turkey in?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A cooler with a lid works very well (if you can fit it into the fridge!).

    3 Replies
    1. re: chefathome

      Why would a cooler need to go in the fridge? It's insulated.

      1. re: rasputina

        Duh. What was I thinking yesterday???? :-(

        1. re: chefathome

          LOL you probably worked too many hours and was over tired.

    2. In the past, I've used a clean kitchen trash bag as a liner in an ice chest. Brine and turkey go in the bag, and cold water and ice go outside the bag but inside the ice chest.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ricepad

        Is there any concern about a plastic bag that is not "food approved" and causing any problems with chemicals etc?

        1. re: Salbert

          Not by me. Then again, I've been known to eat stuff of questionable or unknown provenance, so I may not be the right person to ask.

          1. re: Salbert

            Not by me either. I use a standard-issue 13-gallon kitchen trash bag, straight out of the box. Been doing this for at least a dozen years and haven't sickened any of my guests yet!

            An 18-lb turkey will fit almost perfectly into a full-size Playmate cooler. I line the cooler with the bag, position the turkey in the bag, pour in the refrigerated brine, and then squeeze as much air out as possible and twist up the top of the bag tightly to get the turkey fully surrounded with brine. Then I close it up with twist-ties, close the cooler and park it outside. Usually it's cold enough where I live that I don't even bother putting ice in it.

        2. clean 5 gal Plastic Bucket. Avaliable at Paint or Hardware Stores

          2 Replies
          1. re: chefj

            $3 without a lid at Lowes - I cover with foil.

            1. Put the turkey and brine in a roasting bag. You can then place it in an ice chest or the fridge. No worries @ food safety with a roasting bag.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Brandon Nelson

                Yes, the oven bag is great because here in the south we can't always count on cool weather to brine a turkey outdoors overnight in a bucket. The bag lets you do brining in the fridge; I just turn it over halfway since it's hard to get all the air out.

              2. I use one of those extra-large 10-gallon Ziploc bags. They're big enough to fit a body in, so they're ample large enough to brine a turkey in.

                Even if you brine in another container such as a cooler, I'd still put the turkey in one of these bags to minimize the cleanup on the cooler.

                Another big reason I like brining in one of these bags is once the turkey (or whatever) and brine are in the bag, if you squeeze all the air out of the bag, your brine submerges the turkey (or whatever) much better with less liquid than if the turkey were in a larger, non-crushable container. A bag is a more efficient way to brine.

                6 Replies
                1. re: 1POINT21GW

                  When I mentioned a cooler above I neglected mentioning placing the turkey into a large bag first. The bags that are "...big enough to fit a body in..."! ;-)

                  1. re: chefathome

                    That's what I do too. I then stick the bag into one of those coolers that plug in. That way I'm not worried about the ice

                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                      We Canadians think alike! :-) We are well acquainted with cold...

                      1. re: chefathome

                        Yep. Although, it was 22(!!!) in Halifax today :)

                        1. re: chefathome

                          And the size of a bag you need to put a body in !

                    2. re: 1POINT21GW

                      Agreed. I cure briskets for my Montreal Smoked Meat inside a gigantic ziploc bag.

                      Technically, it's not food grade- but I've been doing it for years with no ill effects.

                    3. White paint bucket with lid, about $2 bucks @ Home Depot.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ

                        You're going to freak the plastic-aphobes out with that one.

                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                          Oh well, if being alive and healthy doesn't endorse the method--don't use it...and don't even think about what restaurants, grocery depts, soup kitchens and caterers are doing to brine your holiday bird...if that's the issue for folks.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I'm with you 100%. Then again, a lot of today's phobias and aversions are unfounded and illogical.

                            1. re: 1POINT21GW

                              and a pain in the ass
                              If we dip a bird in boiling water,it's an aluminium pot,big ,light weight and cheap. Another lecture I could have done without.

                              1. re: lcool

                                If you cook an organic turkey though, its super powers it will cancel out the evil the aluminum will bring on you. Something to consider.

                                1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                  We pasture raise our birds,so I am certain of YOUR correctness.But the damn lecture came from nephew's wife,princess bimba who's cooking is freezer case PB&J sandwiches and pizza delivery.Eight of us that were party to her rant still laugh when we think about it.

                                1. re: rasputina

                                  I got a five-gallon food-grade vinyl bucket + lid at Smart & Final, our retail/wholesale food-service chain, for just a few bucks about ten years ago, and have brined an awful lot of birds and roasts in it as well as UN-brining a fair amount of salt cod. It lives in the garage, but gets a good washing inside and wiping down outside before each use. I've also learned to take undiluted brine and the meat to the bucket and then adding the right measure of water, instead of trying to carry a bucket full of brine and bird out there. I also have a "dead field" outside the garage's side door so I can just dump the brine without killing anything.

                          2. Another fan of the dedicated 5 gallon bucket or 22 gallon trash can.

                            1. We use our 5 gallon drink cooler.

                              1. I use one of those disposable 15 litre water bottles ...after drinking all of the water and after cutting off the top of course. BTW you can use that top like a giant funnel.

                                1. Last year I did the LA Times dry brine method. Way easier and turned out just as good if not better than previous years wet brined turkeys.

                                  1. For years now I've brined my turkey in a lobster pot. I just take out one of the shelves in my New York City refrigerator and stuff it in the back...has alwys worked well for me, and much easier than working with potentially messy bags.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: 280 Ninth

                                      I have done that too and works great.

                                      When my fridge has been way too full I have used the cooler but always lined with food safe plastic bag.

                                      Last year Homegoods had "brining bags" (definitely big enough to fit a body, LOL) on sale after turkey day- I think they were $1.99 for four- so I bought two boxes. Little pricier than ziplock brand but they are heavy duty plastic and have these industrial style "zip locks" and a special tool for closing them. No leaking

                                    2. When I've brined Tongue I usually just use a plastic bucket. but very clean - and rinsed with boiling water.

                                      1. I've used a food grade 5-gallon bucket (originally contained BBQ sauce, got if free from the BBQ restaurant), a 16 or 20-qt stainless stockpot and a fridge vegetable drawer. All work fine and fit into my fridge when I slide out a shelf or two.

                                        1. I start the brining before I go to bed wednesday night -we use our canner, and stick it outside the door overnight - add a load of ice if its not cold out there. Usually the turkey itself is pretty solidly chilled/half frozen at that point, (even the so called fresh type) so Ive not been too concerned about the temp in the NY climate.

                                          1. You can brine your bird from frozen, according to a radio interview with Alton Brown a few days ago. Unless the ambient temperature is quite mild, you won't even need ice. If doing it indoors, just the cooler. If outdoors, just a bucket or bag. Plastics leach more if they or their contents are hot, so even a non-food grade plastic is not likely to be harmful with cold brine.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              thats right, its a decent way to thaw (alternative to refrigerator) the big bird. I dont buy frozen but sometimes these fresh birds are a bit icy inside.

                                            2. ask around at any sandwich, or asian resturant for a food grade bucket (they store soy, mayo pickels etc in them).

                                              It will easily fit your 18 lbs bird.