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#1
Old 11-20-2012, 10:58 PM
Creature of the Night
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Turkey brining: Regular salt OK?

I want to brine my turkey breast, but I just discovered that I'm out of kosher salt. Can I use regular (iodized) salt instead? Do I need to make any adjustments?
#2
Old 11-20-2012, 11:04 PM
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Yes, you can use table salt, but you'll need less by volume. Hang, on,let me find the conversion....okay, looks like half. Kosher salt is bigger and more irregular, so doesn't sit as densely in the measuring cup/spoon. http://smoking-meat.com/kosher-salt.html
#3
Old 11-20-2012, 11:06 PM
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Yeah, all different salts work fine. I think most of the time people use Kosher because it's cheaper. Just use less of it because it's not as flaky, so if measure by volume, you get more salt per cup when using table salt.

Or, what WhyNot said, when he posted 1/2 second before me.
#4
Old 11-20-2012, 11:08 PM
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Yes, like the link says, 1 part fine grain salt = 2 parts Kosher salt.
#5
Old 11-20-2012, 11:10 PM
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The (Cooks Illustrated) guide I use says the following are equivalent (for a basic brine using 1 quart of water and 1/2 cup of sugar)

1/4 cup table salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Morton's Kosher salt
1/2 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
#6
Old 11-20-2012, 11:37 PM
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I have always found the iodine in table salt bitter. I worry that using it in brining would lend an off flavor to the meat.
#7
Old 11-21-2012, 04:02 AM
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Measure your salt by weight and not by volume. I would have never thought of this.
#8
Old 11-21-2012, 04:37 AM
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Even better, measure your salt by percentages. A 2 - 2.5% brine is an equilibrium brine, meat can hang out in there for as long as you want without getting oversalted. A 5% brine is a strong brine and you should only put meat in there for a few hours.

Measure the amount of water you put in the brining vessel, then multiply by the percentage to get the weight of salt.
#9
Old 11-21-2012, 11:16 AM
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Thanks, everyone. I found some NON iodized table salt, so I'll be using it.
#10
Old 11-21-2012, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-bear View Post
Measure your salt by weight and not by volume. I would have never thought of this.
Yeah, that's the only way to be absolutely right. As noted above, different brands of kosher salt scale differently due to their size and way they pack.

Honestly, I can't tell the difference between non-iodized and iodized table salt, but there are those who apparently can. I usually use kosher salt to brine, but, if it's not around, I've used regular salt to no apparent ill effect.
#11
Old 11-21-2012, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-bear View Post
Measure your salt by weight and not by volume. I would have never thought of this.
I don't keep a scale in the kitchen. Maybe if I was a baker I would. But using 2 to 1 Kosher salt for table salt isn't going to screw up a turkey brine even if it's a little off.
#12
Old 11-21-2012, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
Measure the amount of water you put in the brining vessel, then multiply by the percentage to get the weight of salt.
Please expand on this - are you measuring both the salt and water by weight? So for example how much salt in 1 gallon of water for a 2% brine?

I had wanted to brine my turkey, but my wife bought a Butterball that already included up to 8% "solution" and I was worried about over-salting it, but it sounds like with an equilibrium brine I wouldn't have to worry.
#13
Old 11-21-2012, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
Please expand on this - are you measuring both the salt and water by weight? So for example how much salt in 1 gallon of water for a 2% brine?

I had wanted to brine my turkey, but my wife bought a Butterball that already included up to 8% "solution" and I was worried about over-salting it, but it sounds like with an equilibrium brine I wouldn't have to worry.
You don't have to measure the water by weight, you can derive it's weight from the volume. One gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. But you would have to weigh the salt to get the proportions right.

Well actually you could use volume for the salt. If you have a one pound container of salt, you could get pretty close to the right weight by measuring the volume of the whole thing and dividing it up by volume.

But I'm just going to put 1 cup of Kosher salt in one gallon of water like I always do.

Last edited by TriPolar; 11-21-2012 at 11:36 AM.
#14
Old 11-21-2012, 12:59 PM
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I have a kitchen scale so weighing the salt is easy.

So 1 gal of water = 8 lbs = 128 onces by weight. So I want about 3 oz of salt per gallon for equilibrium. Hmm, this just might work after all.
#15
Old 11-21-2012, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
Please expand on this - are you measuring both the salt and water by weight? So for example how much salt in 1 gallon of water for a 2% brine?

I had wanted to brine my turkey, but my wife bought a Butterball that already included up to 8% "solution" and I was worried about over-salting it, but it sounds like with an equilibrium brine I wouldn't have to worry.
weight of 1 gallon of water * 2%

Also, you don't want to brine butterballs, they're pre-brined.
#16
Old 11-21-2012, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
weight of 1 gallon of water * 2%

Also, you don't want to brine butterballs, they're pre-brined.
This is why, if you want to cook the turkey, don't trust your spouse to do the shopping. At least my math was right.
#17
Old 11-21-2012, 04:22 PM
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I called up the Butterball hotline. You don't want to brine the frozen birds or frozen parts, but it's the cook's choice as to whether or not to brine a fresh bird. I have a fresh, never-frozen breast. My husband is howling that he doesn't WANT it brined...so I won't brine it. This time. Next time I'll brine it and not tell him about it until after it's cooked and he's eaten some.

As for salt flavor differences, I can't tell the difference between iodized and non-iodized salt, but I DO taste the difference between table salt and sea salt. Sea salt always tastes dirty to me. I can't describe it any other way. I've taken to carrying a small camping spice shaker filled with regular table salt in my purse, because so many places now have only sea salt, and it always tastes nasty.
#18
Old 11-22-2012, 05:00 PM
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I would like to try brining as well. Since finding kosher salt would be a real hassle hereabouts, it sounds great that I can use regular salt instead.

But I always get something wrong when converting gallons and ounces: Can someone post the ratio of grams of regular salt to litres of water, please?

Do I have to make brines of different strengths for different types of meat and poultry - stronger for beef or turkey, weaker for chicken? Or can I use the same recipe?
#19
Old 11-22-2012, 05:32 PM
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Assuming you're not joking about the ratio question - 20 grams of salt per litre of water will give you a 2% brine. A litre of fresh water at 20 degrees C weighs a kilogram (almost by definition).
#20
Old 11-22-2012, 08:52 PM
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Thank you, lisiate.
Yeah, i should have seen the simple way to figure it out - but somehow my brain shuts down when these nonmetric measurements are involved.
#21
Old 11-22-2012, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
I called up the Butterball hotline. You don't want to brine the frozen birds or frozen parts, but it's the cook's choice as to whether or not to brine a fresh bird. I have a fresh, never-frozen breast. My husband is howling that he doesn't WANT it brined...so I won't brine it. This time. Next time I'll brine it and not tell him about it until after it's cooked and he's eaten some.

As for salt flavor differences, I can't tell the difference between iodized and non-iodized salt, but I DO taste the difference between table salt and sea salt. Sea salt always tastes dirty to me. I can't describe it any other way. I've taken to carrying a small camping spice shaker filled with regular table salt in my purse, because so many places now have only sea salt, and it always tastes nasty.
I fixed a turkey boob today. I thawed it in the refrigerator. Before placing it in the oven, I peeled back the entire skin covering the breast and plopped on blobs of softened butter. I was generous and used a whole stick. Then I sprinkled poultry seasoning over the butter and replaced the skin.

O. M. G. That had to be the BEST turkey I've ever had! The breast meat was so moist and tender it almost didn't need chewing. Sublime!

I'll be dreaming about that turkey tonight!


~VOW
#22
Old 11-22-2012, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Before placing it in the oven, I peeled back the entire skin covering the breast and plopped on blobs of softened butter. I was generous and used a whole stick. Then I sprinkled poultry seasoning over the butter and replaced the skin.
I used a little less than half a stick, and mixed the seasoning in with the butter. Much flavor and tenderness happened.

When I roast a chicken, I remove the clumps of fat, cut them up and mix with seasoning, and loosen the skin from the breast. I distribute the fat between the skin and breast. My husband thought that he didn't like roast chicken, until I started doing it this way.

Bonus: You don't have to baste or fiddle with the bird or bird boob this way. This means that you don't have to open the oven every half hour and let the heat out.

I am STILL going to try brining the next chicken that I roast, I just won't mention that I'm going to do it beforehand. Bill does not question what I do, for the most part. He's just happy that tasty food appears.
#23
Old 11-22-2012, 10:19 PM
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The big difference between different kinds of salt is the shape and size of the grains. Kosher salt has large grains, which can give you a bunch of strong bursts of saltiness, if you put it on the outside of something (think a giant pretzel, for instance). But if you're dissolving it, the grains are lost, so it mostly doesn't matter what kind it was originally: Just use whatever's cheapest or most convenient.
#24
Old 11-22-2012, 11:52 PM
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Kosher salt isn't iodized, and I was wondering mostly if the iodine would make a difference. Sea salt has different impurities, depending on the source, and will have flavor differences. I knew that kosher salt has irregular grains, and I was wondering if it would measure differently.
#25
Old 11-23-2012, 10:34 AM
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It's true that different salts have different impurities, but they're pretty subtle. Most folks won't be able to tell the difference even in the best of circumstances, and a Thanksgiving dinner is hardly the right venue for highlighting subtle flavor distinctions.
#26
Old 11-25-2012, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
Even better, measure your salt by percentages. A 2 - 2.5% brine is an equilibrium brine, meat can hang out in there for as long as you want without getting oversalted. A 5% brine is a strong brine and you should only put meat in there for a few hours.

Measure the amount of water you put in the brining vessel, then multiply by the percentage to get the weight of salt.
This is very useful to me, I had been experimenting with less and less salt, to see how low I could go and still have an effect. Do you have a web page that references the equilibrium concentration? I'm interested because my brine is often 50:50 salt and sugar, and I'm wondering how I'd adjust it. Or if I'd have to, I'm only trying to avoid oversaltyness.
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