How To Make Your Own Brine:
What is a brine? One of the great things about brining is that there are so few rules. Most brines start with water and salt â€” traditionally, 3/4 pound of salt per gallon of water, but since weâ€™re not concerned with the brine as a preservative, you can cut back on the salt. The amount of brining time is likewise not set in stone. Even a little brining is better than none.
What flavorings to add to brine: You can add flavor in all sorts of forms such as herbs and spices. Use brown sugar, honey, or molasses in place of the sugar (some sweetness tends to offset a saltiness the brine might otherwise impart). You can also use apple juice, cider, orange juice, beer, wine, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, stock, tea, or other liquids to replace some or all of the water. You can also put together decidedly Oriental flavorings with soy sauce or the Japanese rice wine mirin. In other words, be creative if you wish!
If storing the poultry in the refrigerator during brining, check to make sure that the container will fit in your refrigerator first! A container large enough to hold a whole turkey might be too big for your refrigerator.
First, choose a cooler that is large enough to keep the turkey completely submerged during the brining process. It is important to thoroughly clean and sanitize the cooler before and after use.
You must keep the poultry and brine cold without diluting the mixture when using a cooler. Put the meat and brine directly in the cooler, then place Ziploc bags filled with ice or reusable gel packs into the brine solution.
Another approach is to put the turkey and brine into a turkey oven roasting bag inside the cooler, and then pack ice or gel packs around the bag.
Monitor the temperature of the cooler to make sure it stays below 40 degrees F. at all times.
When purchasing a turkey for brining, choose a natural turkey (not a self-basted bird that's been injected with a solution of salt and other flavorings). Look for the words "natural" or "no additives added."
Choose a 12- to 20-pound turkey. If the turkey is frozen, thaw according to the package directions before brining.
Remove and discard any leg restraints from the purchased turkey. Remove the giblets from the neck cavity and the neck from the body cavity (save in the refrigerator or freezer for making Perfect Turkey Gravy). Trim away any large areas of fat or excess skin around the body cavity, and cut off the tail.
Rinse thoroughly, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels.
Choose a container large enough to hold your turkey and brine mixture, plus it must be able to fit either in your refrigerator or a large cooler.