raw turkey

Time To Brine The Turkey

I’ve been brining our Thanksgiving turkey for about 6 years now.  It makes a delicious, tender, juicy bird. And its not difficult to do! Here are instructions and some brine recipes for you to use this year.   turkey_baked

To brine a turkey you will need a large pot that will hold the whole bird in the brine and a space in the frig large enough to store it for a day. You can improvise if your frig isn’t big enough. I have used buckets of ice and placed another bucket full of turkey and brine in it. For the last two years though, I have used a large, Roasting Bag to put the bird and brine in. I sit the bag with brine and turkey into a large cooler and surround the bag with ice. When the ice melts, I take the cooler to the back steps and let it drain, then fill it up with ice again.  You want to make sure the bird stays at or below 40*F.

I always start my turkey out defrosting two days before I will brine it. After it is defrosted, I put it in the brine from 24 – 48 hours.

Brining is simply soaking the turkey in a salt solution that has spices and flavors added to it. Brining a turkey imparts delicious flavor and moisture to the meat, it’s the best way to roast a turkey I think. More than that though, if the turkey gets left in the oven for an extra 10-15 minutes, the brining keeps it moist and flavorful. You can leave a turkey in the brine for up to 2 days, but usually just 24 hours will be sufficient to lend those delicious flavors to the meat.

I’ll walk you through brining, it’s not hard but you need to think about what your family likes before you start. Brines can be tailored to your taste.
So the rule of thumb is: Use the basic brine and add the flavors your family likes!

Basic Brine:
Dissolve 1 cup table salt or 2 cups kosher salt in 2 gallons cold water in a large stockpot or clean bucket. Your pot or bucket must hold 6-8 gallons so that you can immerse the turkey. After you add the flavors, brine the turkey for 12-24 hours.

Now add the flavors you like. Here are some suggestions:

Honey Brine
1 ounce tender quick
1 cup honey
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp pickling spices

Traditional Turkey
1 -2 Tablespoons of each:
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Celery seed, ground
Sage
Thyme
Fresh ground black pepper

Spicy Brine
1/2 cup molasses
1-1/2 T crushed or minced garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 T onion powder
1/4 cup pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 oz maple flavoring

Another Spicy One
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp oregano

Apple Cider Brine
4 gal. apple cider INSTEAD OF WATER
1/2 cup kosher salt INSTEAD OF THE SALT IN THE BASIC BRINE
1 onion, diced
2 heads of garlic divided
1/2 cup fresh ginger, chopped
3 pcs. star anise
4 bay leaves
4 oranges quartered

Roasting The Brined Turkey

To roast the brined turkey, it is important to rinse the turkey well and to pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 400* F. Paint the breast portion with soft butter, add some herbs if desired. cover the breast with a foil tent. Roast the turkey at 400* for 35 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and roast the remaining time indicated on the packaging of the turkey. Uncover the breast the last 1 1/2 hours. The USDA recommends that you let the turkey breast come to 170* and the legs to 180* before removing the turkey from the oven. Remember however that the turkey will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven. Especially if you cover it with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.  The resting period will also allow the juices to settle in the meat, making for a better tasting turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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About Sylvia

Sylvia is the owner of the Christian HomeKeeper Network website and ministry. She and her husband Mark live in Tennessee. They are the parents of 5 children and grandparents to three so far. They have homeschooled since 1990. Sylvia is a Christian and enjoys mentoring women, writing articles for several magazines, gardening, Bible study and creating a peaceful holy home. Follow Sylvia on Google+ or check out her 21st Century HomeKeeper podcasts on the Preparedness Radio Network.