Want a Juicy, Tender Turkey? Here’s How to Brine It

Entertaining
Citrus Turkey Brine

If you’re looking to take your holiday turkey up a notch this year, consider brining it. Brining is the process of soaking meat in a salty solution before cooking. Not only does brining add flavor, but it also helps to keep the meat moist and juicy. In this blog post, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to brine a turkey, as well as our favorite Citrus Turkey Brine recipe!

What is Brining?

Brining is a process of marinating your uncooked turkey in a saltwater solution. This helps to retain moisture and adds flavor to the meat. A basic brine solution consists of water, salt, and sugar. You can also add aromatics like herbs, spices, citrus and hot peppers for additional flavour.

Why Brine?

There are several reasons why brining is beneficial. First, it helps to keep your turkey moist and gives you more leeway when it comes to cooking time. This means you can worry less about overcooking it. Brining is a perfect option for those nervous, first-timers cooking a turkey! Second, it adds flavor. The salt in the brine solution permeates the meat, resulting in a tastier bird.

How Do I Brine My Turkey?

The process of brining is actually pretty simple. All you need is a large container, water, salt, sugar, and aromatics (optional). Combine all of the ingredients in the container and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Then, add your turkey and make sure it’s fully submerged in the solution. Cover the container and place it in the fridge for 12-24 hours. When you’re ready to cook your turkey, remove it from the brine solution, rinse it with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. We’ve got the full recipe below to help you out. Then, continue to cook your turkey as usual. And that’s it!

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Choosing a Turkey to Brine

 

When it comes to brining, any size or type of turkey will do. However, we advise making sure your turkey isn’t already brined! You’ll end up with a salty bird if you use a pre-brined turkey. If you’re not sure whether your turkey has been brined, check the package label for the ingredients.

What Container Should I Use?

 

For small to medium-sized turkeys, you can use a large stockpot, brining bag or any food-safe container that’s big enough to fit your turkey. If you’re brining a larger bird, you can use a clean, sanitized cooler. Just be sure to substitute some water with ice to keep the turkey cold. Check the temperature in the cooler a few times to ensure it stays below 4˚C. Using a cooler means more space in your fridge!

How Should I Flavour The Brine?

The great thing about brining is that you can get creative with the flavour. If you want to keep it simple, use water, salt and sugar. If you’re looking to add some additional flavour, consider swapping out water for apple cider, apple juice, pop, beer or other flavoured liquid. You can also add aromatics like citrus fruits, herbs, spices or hot peppers.

Making Gravy From a Brined Bird

Yes, you can make gravy from the drippings of a brined turkey! One thing to note is that the drippings will be saltier from a brined bird than an unbrined one. Be sure to taste your gravy as you make it to see if it needs salt. You may find it doesn’t need any salt at all!

Tips to Control Saltiness of Gravy After Brining:

  • rinse the brined turkey in cold water to remove excess salt water from the cavity and exterior
  • reduce or omit the amount of salt in dry rubs or seasoning you use just before cooking (if using)
  • make your gravy using a homemade broth that doesn’t have salt added (or check your local butcher shop housemade broth without salt)
  • reserve most of the pan drippings, continue making the gravy with stock and taste the gravy as you go – then add in pan drippings, a little at a time, until the gravy reaches the flavor you desire

Now that you know how to brine a turkey, there’s no reason not to give it a try this holiday season! Your guests will be impressed by your delicious bird, and you’ll be relieved that you don’t have to worry about serving a dry turkey. So go ahead and give it a shot—we promise it’ll be worth it!

Citrus Turkey Brine

Citrus Turkey Brine

A moist, flavourful turkey with this simple and classic Citrus Turkey Brine. This recipe uses citrus fruits like orange and lemon and fresh herbs such as thyme, bay leaves and sage.
Prep Time 1 d
Cook Time 20 mins
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 16 cups of water divided (or try mixing in some apple cider and reduce the sugar)
  • 1-2 cups of sugar
  • 1-2 cups kosher salt

assorted aromatics and seasonings of your choice:

  • 6 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 unpeeled onion cut in half
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 3-4 bay leaf
  • fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, rosemary, or whole spices (star anise, whole clove, cinnamon)
  • 12-15 lb fresh turkey

Instructions
 

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Whisk the salt and sugar into the water to dissolve it.
  • Add your choice or aromatics and seasonings: garlic, orange, lemon, peppercorns, bay leaves, and fresh herbs. Reduce the heat to low and cover to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Pour the brine into a large pot. Add the remaining water/apple cider and refrigerate the brine until it is cold.
  • Add the uncooked turkey (breast-side down) and the brine to a large stock pot, food-safe container or brine bag. Place it in the fridge for 12-24 hours. If you are using a cooler, swap some of the water out for ice and use a thermometer to ensure everything stays below 4C. Rotate the turkey a few times to brine evenly.
  • Remove the turkey from its overnight bath and discard the brine. Rinse it thoroughly with cold water, inside and out. Pat it dry with paper towel. Roast your turkey and enjoy!

Notes

It's important to remember that brining increases the salt in your turkey. If you're using a dry rub, consider reducing or omitting the salt to prevent your bird from being too salty. The brine may also add salt to the stuffing if you stuff your turkey.
Larger turkey's, would need about double to triple the amount of brine in this recipe.

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