pork brine recipe

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anyone out there with a pork brine recipe? how essential is the salt?...i know when i make gravelax i combine sugar and salt to make the brine... anything else i could use, like brown sugar?.....i don't have apple juice on hand, but i do have coconut water... for some reason, i just really stink at grilling big bone in pork chops, and i'm bound and determined to nail it...my husband adores them, and has been great to endure all my experimentations, but i think he's starting to wonder if i'll ever get it right....suggestions and advice as always, is greatly appreciated...thanks

joey
 
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Salt is essential to the process because it changes the proteins so they hold more water.

I use a basic brine formula of 5% salt and 2.5% sugar (any type, can also play with the amount of sugar to taste) by weight.

I simmer half the liquid with the sugar and salt, and with any aromatics I'm using. The other half of the liquid I add as ice to cool it down to safe temp.

Acids slow down the brining process.
 
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how long do i brine for? is 8 hours good enough or does it take a full 24 hours?...was hoping to grill them up tonight..thanks

joey
 
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2 hours should be plenty for 1 to 1.5 inch thick. How thick are they? 8 to 24 hours is in the range of whole birds to large pieces of meat.

Some people swear by resting the meat outside of the brine for a while to let the brine evenly distribute in the meat. Sounds like it would work well for bigger pieces of meat.
 
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Salt and sugar are not the only players, most good meat and poultry brines have some acid too.  Aromatics are a nice touch.

Buy some  "Orange, Peach, Mango" juice from the supermarket.  If they don't have it, you could use lemonade, limeade, a combination of apple and white grape juices, just plain orange juice, TJ's Pomegranite/Limeade, or what have.   The point is to find something fruity and "kid sweet."  Pour a pint into a pan.  In the meantime, dissolve ABOUT 1/4 cup plus 1 tbs of regular salt into a pint of hot water.  If you want to get fancy, slice a half onion and boil it in the water for a few minutes before adding   Mix the liquids (along with any aromatics you like) and taste.  If it tastes "way over salted" you're good to go.  If not, add more salt. 

You can certainly add white sugar, brown sugar or molasses to the brine.  Just remember to taste before using, and that a brine should taste very salty and NOT taste sweet or good.  While you can certainly use careful measurement and complicated brine recipes, your own taste is a far better guide.  Especially yours which are so highly developed. 

You'll want to brine thick pork chops for about four hours before grilling as you want the brine to penetrate all the way through the meat.

As alternatives to the lighter, water and juice brines, try heavily salted yogurt or buttermilk.  In addition to protecting "juiciness," they bring a fair bit of tenderizing, is to use heavily salted yogurt or buttermilk. 

People who do a lot of brining choose uniodized salt, because iodizine can leave a sort of purplish cast.  But your half-day brine shouldn't be a problem.

When you season your chops with rub, you'll want to be very conservative with the salt.

BDL
 
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thanks for the advice and guidance. i did some things right and some things wrong. in the end, my husband loved them, which is where i started. i brined before i read the posts as i had to leave...brine(martinelli's sparkling apple cider, celtic sea salt, 5 spice powder). for some unknown reason i forgot to add sugar or heat up the brine before pouring it over the chops...i would have added molasses as you suggested bdl, as i love that idea. obviously, i'm not a 'briner'.. weighed down the chops with cans, refrigerated them and 8 hours later rubbed with more 5 spice powder and on the grill they went. finished them with a glaze(combo of fig preserves and roasted raspberry chipotle sauce), cuz that's what i had. i figured out that my problem has mainly been 'operator error'. i usually put the chops on the grill and go do other stuff. this time i made sure all my side work was done, put them on the grill..seared, turned, seared, moved to indirect heat, and just kind of moved them around a bit...think between the brine, not leaving them, and indirect heat, it did the trick. coupla questions...i use yogurt and buttermilk a lot when marinating chicken (tandoori), or lamb(kebobs). can i also use it for marinating pork chops or country ribs? my thinking is that if it plumps up chicken and lamb, it would do the same for pork. i think of brining as a way to preserve foods like pickled herring, corned beef etc., and marinating as adding flavor and moisture.....question...do you rinse off the brine before rubbing? wasn't sure so i did....again, thanks for your time and bdl...glad you're back in the saddle, buckaroo...you were missed....yipee ki-yay!

joey
 
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I always brine my chickens before grilling and they come out wonderful. Also I add some canola oil and it makes the chicken even more juicy. Reading this thread makes me wonder if the brining will make my pork ribs more plump and juicy too?
 Some people swear by resting the meat outside of the brine for a while to let the brine evenly distribute in the meat. Sounds like it would work well for bigger pieces of meat.
Do you mean to let the meat rest outside the brine a while after it had brined and you take it out of the brine?

thanks
 
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My usual brine    water, brown sugar, white sugar, salt. garlic, oregano , thyme.     I use this for smoking fish(overnight)  chicken, pork, beef.  Only I do not leave overnight.  .If it is for pork or pork ribs pork marinade I add soy or terriaki sauce and ginger. I have been using this for.20 years and never had problem or complaint that I know of.  Simple, easy uncomplicated  the same all the time.
 
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I see lots advice better than any I can offer, but you asked for recipes too, and he're mine.

I don't have the proportions, I kinda of wing it.

Salt, Brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, 1 roasted red apple, 1 roasted red onion, ginger, rosemary, sage, whole allspice... god i feel like i'm forgetting something...

Cinnamon! and stock!

Good for turkey or pork

I will also make a dry rub out of most of those ingredients for the meat too. Done right, it will be on the fine line between bold and too spicy.

Add red wine, beet, or simple food coloring to a brine  to add a ring of red around the outside of your cuts of meet.  However, I see that at Chinese restaurants more than anything.
 
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With brines, quantities and times are very flexible and contingent.  There should be enough liquid to cover the meat, much more is a waste.  The amount of salt and the type of meat determine how long the meat spends in brine.  You want the meat to absorb the maximum amount of fluid without becoming too salty.

If we're talking a kilo of pork chops, cut around 25cm thick, two liters of water, 125g of table salt, 75g white sugar, and 60ml of cider vinegar 4 hours would be fair.

The sugar and vinegar play a variety of roles in this brine.  Not the least important is to balance the taste of the salt.

When you're ready to cook, wipe the meat off but do not rinse.  Season as usual, omitting or severely limiting salt.  Better to under salt and correct at the table, as it's not easy to come back if you over salt.  Don't expect to get your levels and times exactly right the first time, that takes practice and experience.  On the other hand, your meat should be much juicier than what you're used to.  But brining adds some margin with meats which tend to cook dry -- like most modern pork.  However, there are limits.  If you severely over cook, use too high or too low a fire, or do other things which dry and toughen, you'll end up with a dry, tough product.  Brining helps, but it's not a miracle.

Good luck

BDL
 
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I've come across some references to an equilibrium brine lately. No clue what the concentrations are, but it's appearently much less time sensitive.
 
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All brines are "time sensitive."  Weak brines take a long time, strong brines work quickly.  It's the nature of diffusion, the chemical process which "powers" brines.   I think what you're getting at is that if you use a weak brine, one made at the same concentration you eventually want for the meat, you won't "over-brine" by leaving the meat in solution for a long time.  There's some truth to that, but not all of the harm of a liquid solution lies in the electrolytes.  If you've got to leave the meat in the bucket over the weekend for whatever reason, you might be better off cooking something else.

BDL
 
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Thanks BDL for  sharing your experiences, could you tell the differences between weak and strong brines?
 
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Just for a different viewpoint....

Why is it that when processors pump up their proteins with liquid we call it evil, wicked, sinful, and money grubbing, but then talk about methods of achieving the same thing ourselves?

More to the point, I don't brine. When the idea was first picking up steam I tried it. And have eaten brined foods that others have prepared. Have never had a dish made that way that didn't taste overly salty to me.
 

phatch

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Besides being charged for the salt water as Pete mentions, it's about the cook being in control of the result, not the vendor. I'm on a sodium restriction so I don't want meat pre-salted by the butcher/meat packer.

Brining has it's place, but it's not something I do much of any more. For poultry, I've taken to a form of home koshering and been quite pleased with the results.
 

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