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Nov 25, 2013 09:29 PM

Having cold feet on dry-brined turkey

I started dry-brining my turkey but am suddenly questioning this decision. First, I'm worried about the pan juices being too salty to use for gravy (I used 1/4 cup kosher salt for a 17 pound bird.) Should I rinse and dry it before the last step of leaving it uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours? Second, I read that dry-brined turkeys produce very little in the way of pan juices, because salt draws out the moisture. Is this true? This will be a big problem for me. Any advice appreciated!

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  1. IMO, that's too much salt to stay on the bird for more than a day. I'd rinse it off. Salt does draw moisture out of meat. If you want to keep moisture in, you might want to wet brine it but I would do it no more than a day ahead. Then, you'll have more juices.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      It's only marginally generous. I used 1/4 cup for my 18.5lb bird. The rule is a tbs per 5lb of meat.

      I've been doing dry brining for 4 years now (this will be my fourth). I haven't had any difficulty making gravy nor has my gravy been salty.

      You're doing fine, cathyeats. Carry on.

      1. re: rainey

        So, you don't think having this much salt on the bird for three days will cause it to be too salty in the end?

        For the OP: Good luck with that; hope you don't regret it.

        1. re: Cherylptw

          Absolutely not. 3 days is fine and it won't be too salty in the end. Also, as stated below, the salt draws out the moisture early on, but that moisture is then reabsorbed into the meat over the course of days 2 and 3. The result is an incredibly flavorful, juicy bird that doesn't have that weird texture that poorly wet brined birds have.

          So, to cathyeats, don't rinse now OR later. Keep going! Your drippings won't be too salty for gravy. Just mop up any salt or juices that may be sitting in the bottom of your roasting pan prior to roasting.

          1. re: Cherylptw

            You don't sound like you've tried dry brining yet.

            Sometime after T-day give it a try! You can do a chicken.

            1. re: Cherylptw

              I routinely salt a chicken for 3 days and roast it Zuni style and it's never salty. I don't rinse after brining either. I imagine the salt on a turkey would penetrate even less.

        2. Keep with the dry brine. You're fine. The salt draws out the moisture but it is reabsorbed into the meat.

          Read this, you'll feel better:

          3 Replies
          1. re: Sushiqueen36

            Agreed. I've done dry brine for the last few years, and I'll never mess with a wet brine again.

            1. re: Sushiqueen36

              I doubt much of the liquid that gets drawn out by the salt gets reabsorbed--sounds like myth to me. It seems reasonable to believe that most of the liquid that's drawn out evaporates into the air. The primary mechanism by which dry-brining keeps a turkey moist is simply inhibiting the muscle fibers from exuding as much moisture during cooking as they otherwise would if not subjected to salt.

            2. Thanks, everybody! Getting my confidence back....

              1. Rule of thumb is 1 tbs salt per 5 lbs of bird. I dry brine in a large freezer bag or or a brining bag. The bird initally gives of a bit of moisutre, but then reabsorbs it.

                1. Agreed, you should stick with the dry brine. Do not rinse the bird! However, I have noticed that with the dry brined bird there are fewer drippings and they are saltier. Since you have a 17 pound bird you should be fine. But if your family goes through a lot of gravy, you might want to make some gravy in advance and keep it a bit underseasoned. Then on T Day you can mix the pre-made gravy with the gravy made from your turkey drippings and be absolutely guaranteed that you will end up with an ample amount of properly seasoned gravy. This is what I have done for the last few years, and it has always worked for me.