Brining a Turkey
This is a great way to have a juicy turkey!
To properly brine a turkey you need to start the night before you plan to cook it. You will need at least:
10 to 12 hours (plan on 1 hour per pound) A container large enough to hold your turkey and enough
brine to cover it. You’ll also need: salt, water, sugar, and enough room to refrigerate it. A large stainless
steel stock pot or even a 5 gallon clean plastic bucket make excellent containers. Whatever container you
choose, the turkey must have enough room to be turned, so it should be big. Turkey: The turkey should
be cleaned out, completely thawed, and should not be a self-basting or Kosher turkey. Self-basting and
Kosher turkeys have a salty stock added that will make your brined turkey too salty. Make sure to check
the ingredients on the turkey before you decide to brine. A fresh, natural turkey works best, but a
completely thawed, previously frozen turkey will work just as well.
1) Brine Ingredients: To make the brine, mix 1 cup of table salt in 1 gallon of water. You will need more
than 1 gallon of water but that’s the ratio. One way of telling if you have enough salt in your
brine is that a raw egg will float in it.
2) Sweetening the Brine: Sugar is optional in any brine, but works to counteract the flavor of the salt.
While you may choose a brine without sugar, it is recommended that you add sugar to maintain the
flavor of the turkey. Add up to 1 cup of sugar per gallon of brine. Like the salt, you need to make sure
that the sugar is completely dissolved.
3) Place the turkey in a container and pour in enough brine to completely cover the turkey with an inch
or two to spare. You do not want any part of the turkey above the surface of the brine. The turkey should
sit in the brine for about 1 hour per pound of turkey. Brining too long is much worse than not brining
enough, so watch the time.
4) Keep it Cool! Don’t have room in the refrigerator? Try a cooler. Make sure it’s big enough to hold your
turkey and can contain (without spills) both the bird and the brine. The cooler will not only help keep the
turkey cool, but provides the option to brine your turkey without taking up space in the refrigerator. If
the weather is cool and not freezing, you can put the whole thing outside until you are ready to cook the
turkey. If the weather is warm, fill a zip top bag with ice. Place this in the cooler with the turkey and
brine and it will hold down the temperature during the brining process.
5) Rinsing: When you are ready to begin cooking the turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse it off
thoroughly in the sink with cold water until all traces of salt are off the surface inside and out. This is the
single, most important step. If you don’t get the brine rinsed off thoroughly, you will get a very salty bird.
Discard the brine and cook the turkey as you normally would. You will notice the second you start to
carve your turkey that the brining has helped it retain moisture.