Brining is a method of placing foods in a mixture of salt and water, which may be done either to enhance the flavor of the food, to tenderize it or to preserve it. Placing foods in brine helps preserve them, while at the same time enhancing flavor and make tough foods tender. Maple brine, Beer Brine and Kosher Salt Brine are some of the popular brine recipes.
Origin of Brining
Brining originated as a method of preserving foodstuffs centuries ago, when fish and other meats were preserved by placing them in salted seawater, which acted as brine. The concentrated salt mixture prevents the growth of bacteria. This was the primary purpose of brining. However, with the passage of time different ways of brining were tried, and it was found that altering the level of salt along with the addition of various types of herbs and spices in the brine would result in a more flavorful and tender meat. Thus, brining developed as a versatile method of preparing a wide range of brine recipes.
The Process of Brining
Brining is carried out by placing the food in a solution of water and plain salt, without iodine or any other additives. The meat absorbs the brine due to a higher concentration of salt in the brine. This helps in adding more flavors to the meat while at the same time preserving it by preventing the growth of bacteria. Different types of foods when placed in brine can be used to make a wide range of culinary preparations, the recipes for which differ across various cuisines. Brining is a relatively slow process and the time required can range from a few hours to 24 hours depending upon the quantity of food and the requirements of the recipe. Vessels are required for preparing the brine and glass jars are required to keep the food in the brine. Brining is practiced as a method of preparing a wide variety of dishes ranging from everyday meat dishes to gourmet pickle preparations.
Popular Brine Recipes
The most popular brine recipes are pickles, brine turkey, brine chicken and smoked fish in brine. Pickled vegetables and meats are popular across almost every cuisine of the world, and various types of herbs and spices are added to the brine in order to make the pickles more flavorful. Almost every ingredient can be preserved by brining, but meats and vegetables such as beets, cucumber and turnip are best suited for brining purposes. Brining is specially used as a method of preservation of foodstuffs while transporting them from one place to another.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Brining
Brining is highly advantageous as it is one process which helps in preserving foods for a long period of time, which would have otherwise deteriorated. Brine stops the growth of bacteria and also enhances the flavor of foods.
The disadvantage with brining is that brine recipes are very time consuming as brining requires the food to be placed in brine for a long duration of time.
Techniques Similar to Brining
Brining is similar to marinating; however, marinating requires the food to be kept in the marinade for a short while whereas brining is a longer process.
• Brine is used in the aging process of cheeses.
• Natural brine is seen in salt water lakes and sea water.