How to Safely Brine a Turkey

Brine Safely

Brining a turkey is one of the best ways to ensure a moist bird.  However, there are a couple of turkey brining road blocks that need to be addressed to make sure your bird comes out moist, and more importantly, safe!  The first thing to remember is to fully cool your brine solution before immersing your bird.  The key to a great turkey brine is to add as much flavor as possible in a salt solution.  To extract flavor, the best practice is to cook your brine solution.  A turkey tea consisting of fresh herbs (sage, parsley) and aromatics like celery leaves and onions will make a great brine.  A great trick is to make your brine solution extra flavorful and add cold water to mellow it out and cool the solution down more quickly after cooking.   You need to make sure your brine liquid temperature is at a maximum of 40 degrees before you place the turkey in the brine solution.  Plan on placing your brine liquid in the fridge for 6 hours to completely cool it down to the safely zone.  

Turkey Storage Problems Fixed

Most people's T-day fridge is already packed enough, and the thought of  room for a brining turkey is stressful.  But, there is an easy solution to the brine turkey storage problem.  All you need is a cooler, giant zip lock bag, and 3-4 bags of ice.  Giant zip lock bags are sold at most supermarkets, and in general, they come with 3-5 bags which will leave you left over bags for next T-day (or wetness protection on next camping trip).  Once your turkey brine is fully cooled down, place the turkey inside the bag.  Next, place the bag + turkey in the cooler and pour the brine over the turkey, into the zip lock bag.  It is very important to do this in the cooler, as it is very awkward to lift a turkey and brine solution into the cooler.  The next step is key:  surround your bird with several bags of ice.  Your cooler should stay cold enough for over night brining, or certainly for 6 hours.  The great thing about this method is you don't need a thermometer to tell if it is cold enough in your cooler for safe brining temperature.  If the ice does not melt, or melts very slowly, that means your turkey is brining at a safe temperature.  The ice is your built in brine thermometer! 




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