Turkey Talk – Tips For A Wet Brine


Wet brining is a bit of a process, but, my friends swear by it and it does make a pretty tasty turkey. The first thing you will want to do is buy your turkey and get it thawed.

There are easy brining kits out there at your local store or spice shop, but, if you are doing it yourself, here are some helpful tips:

  • Whole turkey (12 to 17 pounds): Mix 2 gallons cold water with 1 cup table salt (dissolves quicker than kosher); brine min. 6 to 12 hours

    Whole turkey (18 to 24 pounds): Mix 3 gallons cold water with 1½ cups table salt; brine min. 6 to 12 hours

    Bone-in turkey breast (6 to 8 pounds): Mix 1 gallon cold water with ½ cup table salt; brine min. 3 to 6 hours.

  • If you plan on wet brining this is also a good time to throw some 1/2 oranges, cloves, lemons and/or limes, depending on your tastes. My friends usually go with oranges and cloves. Sprigs of rosemary and thyme also work.
  • A cooler will work for this. If you freeze a couple of 1L bottles of water and put in cavity it will submerge the bird. Otherwise, bags are available. But it is advised (based on an unnamed friend who had a terrible experience) to put the bag in a cooler first and NOT pull it from the cooler and carry it to the sink, but let the cooler do the work. i.e., the bags are kind of weak. The latter leads to your wife yelling at you while mopping gallons of turkey water off the kitchen floor while the dog barks at 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and being reminded of it every Thanksgiving after.
  • If you can, let it air dry a couple of hours before putting it in the oven. pat it dry and let the air get to the skin in a cool environment so that you get a crispier skin.
  • IF you wet brine, you can baste, but most chefs agree it does nothing and usually doesn’t allow the skin to crisp.
  • Preference of the wet brining method for smoking or roasting. It can be used for frying, just get that excess liquid drained.

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