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In food processing, brining (to brine) is treating something with brine or steeping it in brine. [1]


Brining is a process similar to marination in which poultry is soaked in brine before cooking.[2] Salt is added to cold water in a container, where the meat is soaked anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days. The amount of time needed to brine depends on the size of the meat. More time is needed for a large turkey compared to a broiler fryer chicken. Similarly with a large roast versus a thin cut of meat.

There is agreement among food scientists that two effects are responsible for the brining effect, the supremacy of one of the other is constantly debated.[3][4]

  • Poultry cells have a higher concentration of other non-salty solutes so water moves into the poultry through osmosis.[2]
  • Brining allows the cells to hold on to water while they are cooked from the denaturation of the proteins, creating an impermeable barrier that traps water inside the poultry.[2]

In many foods the additional salt is also desirable as a preservative.


Main article: Brined cheese

Some cheeses are periodically washed in brine during their ripening. Not only does the brine carry flavors into the cheese (it might be seasoned with spices or wine), but the salty environment may nurture the growth of the Brevibacterium linens bacteria, which can impart a very pronounced odor (Limburger) and interesting flavor. The same bacteria can also have some effect on cheeses that are simply ripened in humid conditions, like Camembert. Large populations of these "smear bacteria" show up as a sticky orange-red layer on some brine-washed cheeses.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Brining on Cooking For Engineers - a discussion on what happens to meat as it brines (with reader comments)