A brine is a solution of salt and other curing ingredients in water.The simplest way to use a brine is to immerse the meat in the brine and let it soak until the cure is complete. Compared with dry cures, brines are especially useful for poultry items, which are difficult to coat evenly with a dry cure because of their shape. Items that float, such as poultry, must be held down with a weight so they are completely submerged in the brine.
Simple brine soaking is used for small meat items, but because the brine takes time to penetrate to the center of large items such as hams, another method is used to speed the process. Brine is pumped or injected into the meat to make sure it penetrates evenly. After injection, the meat may be soaked in brine as well. Commercial operations use a variety of high-speed equipment for injecting brine. In addition, small pumps are available for brining by hand.
The length of time required for brining depends on the size and thickness of the item. Of course, meats that have been injected with brine need less time in the brine soak.
Fresh brine should be made for each batch of cured meats. Do not reuse brines because they are diluted and contaminated with juices from the first batch of meats.
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