Pork Brine
January 12, 2022
All Purpose Rub
January 15, 2022

To brine or not to brine?

Over the last five years or so, barbecue has become a significant part of my life. On a daily basis, I am posting new recipes, talking about techniques and drooling over the brisket shots I see on Social media. One of the things I love about this, is the opportunity I get to talk to people who are new to the hobby and are trying to build their skills and make some killer food.

Through these conversations, one of the more consistent questions I get is regarding the science of brining and why it is important.

Brining is something that I am a huge advocate for, and I include it in almost all my chicken and pork recipes. Brining takes a little bit more time and planning, but I think it is super worth it.

So, let’s talk about what it is.

In the simplest terms, brining is the introduction of salt into the fibers of the meat. Brining can be done either as a dry brine, by applying the salt to the exterior of the meat, or as a wet brine, where the salt is incorporated into a liquid that the meat is then soaked in.

Almost exclusively, I go with a wet brine. I like the fact that you can incorporate a lot of extra flavors that are difficult to include with a dry brine, as well as the additional surface coverage that the wet brine allows.

Brining works by the interaction of salt and liquid. As the salt gets inside the muscle fibers of the meat, it holds on to liquid. During the cooking process, your meat will always lose moisture. You can see this in how much smaller a cooked piece of meat will be compared to raw meat and by the liquid which is left behind in your foil tray or roasting pan. Because brined meat binds more liquid to the fibers of the meat, there is more liquid at the start of the cook. Some is always lost, but because of the extra starting liquid, we end up with more liquid left behind.

Brining science can get fairly detailed and complex, but ultimately this is why we do it. Our finished product will be juicier and more flavorful.

A quick word of warning about brining. Because brining involves the addition of salt, we absolutely have to be mindful of this, especially when buying chicken. Chicken purchased from the supermarket will often be pre-brined, meaning it has already been given a salt treatment. Add to this a brine with salt, a rub with salt and a sauce with salt and all too quickly your pulled pork tastes like it’s been sitting in the ocean for a couple of days.

Try to avoid pre brined meats and be mindful of the level of salt you are adding throughout your overall cook when brining and you will end up with some of the moistest and juiciest meat you’ve ever cooked.

Check out some of my favorite brines here:

Chicken brine

Pork brine

Let me know how it goes for you!

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Ready to take your BBQ to the next level? Grab your copy of Ten ways to IMMEDIATELY improve your low and slow BBQ below.