Thanksgiving Turkey Brine
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you may be wondering how to brine a turkey, maybe even considering a wet-brine. If you're smoking a turkey, you may want to consider wet brining your turkey because it will retain moisture more so than what a dry brine will.
Now, first things first when it comes to deciding your brine options. If you purchased a turkey from your grocery store, you want to make sure its not already brined, meaning it hasn't been injected with a natural brine. If that's the case for your turkey, you can still wet brine it, but it may become too salty. If you're unsure if your turkey has been pre-brined, then check the ingredients on the packaging. The only ingredient should be turkey.
Once you've decided on your brine process, it's time to begin preparation for actually brining your turkey. Brining can take up to 24 hours, depending on the size of your turkey. We recommended using a bird that's about 15 pounds for the best results. You typically want to brine one hour for one pound of meat, so a 15 pound turkey will take 15 hours to brine. Be careful not to over-brine your turkey because it can take on a spongy texture.
What you'll need:
- Un-brined Turkey.
We recommend about a 15 pound turkey for the best results, for brining and smoking purposes.
- A large pot and a food safe container.
The pot does not need to be big enough to submerge the turkey, however, the container needs to be big enough to fully submerge the turkey but also small enough to fit in your fridge.
You'll need salt, sugar (or brown sugar depending on your preferences), whole peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and garlic cloves, whole and peeled.
You'll also need one orange, one lemon and water.
Making the Brine
Fill a large pot with 1 quart of water. Next, add your spices and other ingredients, salt, sugar, garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns. Then, peel the orange and lemon, but try to prevent too much of the white bitter skin underneath from getting in your peels. Add the peels to the water, then add your rosemary and thyme.
Let your brine mixture simmer on medium heat until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved in the water. While the brine mixture is simmering, prepare one to two quarts of very cold water in your container that the turkey will brine in.
Once your mixture has dissolved, add the brine mixture to the very cold water in your container. This will help the brine mixture cool down. Then, place your turkey, breast side down into the brine, making sure it is fully submerged. Cover your container and place it in the fridge for one hour for every pound of your turkey.
And there you have it, your own wet brine for your turkey! You're ready to go smoke your turkey!