|Many families already have a favorite method of preparing their Thanksgiving turkey to perfection. But something that is gaining in popularity, according to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, is a pre-soak method called brining that helps assure a moist, tasty turkey.
According to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, brining is a method of steeping the turkey in a strong solution of salt and water. Other ingredients can be added for flavor but the salt is what makes the turkey moist.
1 gallon vegetable broth
1 cup sea salt
spices to your taste: 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried savory
1 gallon ice water
- In a large stock pot, combine the broth, sea salt and herbs. Bring to boil stirring frequently to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.
- Pour cool mixture in 5 gallon container suitable for food. Stir in ice water.
- Wash and dry turkey and remove bag containing innards. Place turkey face down into brine, filling its cavity. Place in refrigerator overnight.
- Remove turkey from brine and pat dry.
- Cook the turkey as desired reserving the drippings for gravy. Keep in mind that brined turkey cooks 20 to 30 minutes faster.
Procedure submitted by Sheri Gailey for allrecipes.com
"Salt helps to dissolve the protein in muscle and the salt and protein reduce the moisture loss during the cooking process," said Roberts.
The entire turkey has to be completely submerged in the brining solution.
"It's hard to find a container that will hold a turkey larger than 14 pounds," said Roberts. "For this reason, many people only brine their turkey when they are going to cook one weighing less than 14 pounds."