Discussion in 'Poultry' started by smokeys my pet, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. smokeys my pet

    smokeys my pet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just wondering if you can brine without salt do to blood pressure issues in my family?[​IMG]
  2. glued2it

    glued2it Master of the Pit

    hmmm I don't know if you can brine without salt. I'm sure it's what causes the chemical reaction(osmosis).
    Using kosher salt should be better with blood pressure since it's it's not table salt. But I'm no doctor.

    Anyone know about this?

    Is there a doctor in the house?????????
  3. ds7662

    ds7662 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Found this....
    Nutritionally speaking, kosher salt is no different than table salt, although it does not provide iodine. The human body needs salt to regulate the electrolyte balance inside and outside of its cells. But studies have shown that diets low in salt lower a person's blood pressure. As with many health issues, scientists and doctors don't universally agree on the health benefits and problems related to salt intake.

    Personal opinion is that most meat purchased has some salt in it with the excepetion of poultry. Using a Brine should not be of great consequence provided you wash meat thouroughly after brining to remove most of the salt.
  4. deejaydebi

    deejaydebi Smoking Guru

    Brine = salt. Unfortunately there no substitute that I know of.
  5. ron50

    ron50 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think I recall reading, not sure where, that brining doesn't work without salt. I know that I reduce the salt in my brine and still get a moist and juicy bird.

    If you decide not to brine, you can always use an injector to add moisture.
  6. smokeys my pet

    smokeys my pet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks to all for the input.

    I love this site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  7. twomill

    twomill Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    The defining point of brine is how much salt is in the water, a full brine solution would be saturated with salt so that no more salt can be absorbed or disolved. I agree with Ron if you want to use as little salt as possible then injecting spices of choice would be the alternative. This would be better than doing nothing to the bird other than light rub and smoking.
  8. pescadero

    pescadero Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I got curious about this, for the same HBP reason. I recently researched it and this is what I found.
    Here is a layman's version of the scientific phenomenon:

    There is general agreement among food scientists and writers that the processes of diffusion and osmosis are involved in achieving equilibrium between the flavor brine solution and the meat--in other words, that these processes attempt to balance the difference between the amount of water, salt, and flavorings in the flavor brine solution and the amount of water and dissolved substances inside the meat cells.

    The most commonly offered explanation is that the flavor brine solution contains a higher concentration of water and salt than the meat, so the solution passes into the meat cells through their semi-permeable membranes, adding water and flavor to the inside of the meat cells.

    This results is getting at least some minimal transfer, even without salt. Salt is NOT a mandatory component of the brine. The results are, however, much more thorough and pronounced if salt is present.

    So, when Ron says that he had a moist juicy bird after brining with a solution containing no salt, or minimal salt, he was right. This indicates that he most certainly did. The process attempted to balance the bird and the solution, regardless of the contents of the solurion. There would be at least some 'balancing' going on, even if it was only of the flavorings.

    Another point. Contrary to what some people think, after a bird is brined and the transfer process is completed, you can wash or rinse that bird as much and for as long as you want to. This will do nothing but rinse OFF any salt or flavorings from the outside. You can not rinse them back OUT, from the inside. Once in, they are in to stay. Unless, as Debi has suggested in other posts, you rebrine(for lack of another term) or "Soak" the bird in something diluted or less salty, or with less flavorings, then this process will have the affect of dilution. The process will actually be reversed. At least to the extent that the differences in the internal content of the bird and the strength or weakness of the brine allow. For example, a bird that is too salty could be 'brined' in clear water and the result would be an attempt at equalization between the salty bird and the clear water, resulting in a less salty bird.

    One last thing. Salt is Salt. It may come from mining the earth, from dehydrating sea water, from processing bamboo or any other source. It may have different mollecular structure, it may have different size and shape to its grains. Regardless, salt is still salt, with the same chemical makeup and the same effect on ones system. True, when you measure salt, it is important to take into consideration the type of salt. This is why you need conversion factors or 'equivelants' when comparing salts. It is not because one type of salt is 'saltier than the next. It is because due to their grain size and shape, you can fit more or less into any given meassuring device, such as tsp or tbs or cup. I know that it is rather impractical, but you can even avoid this conversion or equalization, if you measure by weight and not volume.

    Bottom line is: load that brine water up with all your delicious flavorings and put little or no salt in. The 'brining process' will still help make a moist flavorful bird and not increase your BP.

  9. cactus

    cactus Newbie

    Its just about water and salt, the flavoring in the water gets pulled along

    I had a prep cook forget to put salt in the chicken brine one day. All the chicken was dry and tasted washed out. Despite the fact the water was flavored, without salt it wont work. You may well be ok to drop the basic to ratio .5 cups salt - 1 gallon water.
  10. squeezy

    squeezy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great info Skip ... so if I understand correctly, someone on a low-salt diet would be better off injecting for flavor and moisture without using salt.
    Not a perfect solution (pun unintended), but a good compromise! [​IMG]
  11. pescadero

    pescadero Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    I am not trying to be rude or to cause any kind of problem here. But, you state that "It's just about water and salt, the flavorings in the water just gets pulled along". This seems to just be your stated "Opinion". You offer no evidence or support that you are correct. Nothing to back up this statement. Except Ancedotal evidence.

    If you don't take my word for what I have shared, I offer you Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Take a minute and read both "Diffusion" and "Osmosis". You will not find the word "Salt" in the definition of either word.

    In the case of your prep cook having difficulty, I would call this Anecdotal. In other words, the telling and retelling of a story or situation, for which one has no explanation, simply suppisition.

    Following are two definitions for Anecdotal, which comes from our same Merriam-Webster.

    2: based on or consisting of reports or observations of usually unscientific observers <anecdotal evidence>

    3: of, relating to, or being the depiction of a scene suggesting a story <anecdotal details>

    I don't mind being challenged and even "Called Out" when I am wrong. But, I don't want to risk any relationships here on SMF, so am dropping the subject.

    I am willing to let our SMF fraternity decide for themselves.

  12. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What does brining do?
    Brining is the soaking of meat in a solution of water and salt. Additional flavorings like sugar and spices can also me added, but salt is what makes a brine a brine (just like acid makes a marinade a marinade). This soaking causes the meat to gain some saltiness and flavoring while plumping it up with water so that after cooking it still contains a lot of juices.

    The explanation for why brining works that I hear most often is that by surrounding the meat with salt water, salt and water are forced into the tissue through osmosis. Unfortunately, I've never been happy with that explanation. Osmosis is when a solvent (usually water or other liquid that can hold another substance, called the solute, in solution - like salt) moves from a low solute concentration (like the tissue of the meat) to a high solute concentration (like the salt water) through a semipermeable membrane (a surface that allows small particles to pass but not larger ones - like the cell membranes of our chicken or pork) to form an equilibrium. Hmmm... wait a minute. If that's true then water will be drawn from the low salt concentration meat to the high salt concentration salt water. At the same time, if the salt can enter the meat (which it can), then salt will be moving from salt water to meat. Won't that result in a salty, dry piece of poultry or pork?

    Obviously, there's more going on than simple osmosis. It is true that salt enters the meat (it tastes more salty after brining). But why is it also more juicy? Well, when water flows out of the meat, salt flows in and begins to break down some of the proteins in the cells. In the broken down state, the molecules become more concentrated and the solute levels rise within the meat. This causes additional water to flow into the meat.

    But doesn't that mean we've got the same amount of water as before brining? Nope. The cell membranes are semipermeable. They allow salt and water to flow in both directions freely, but larger molecules (like the denatured proteins and other solutes in the meat released by the salt) cannot flow out from within the cells. When the solutes of a solution on one side of a semipermeable membrane cannot pass to the other side, osmosis causes more and more solvent to move through the semipermeable membrane. This continues until the extra pressure from holding more solvent equals the rate at which solvent is "drawn" through the semipermeable membrane. (This rate is called osmotic pressure. How Stuff Works has a short article describing osmotic pressure with a diagram that may be helpful to visualize the water flow.)

    What has happened is that through brining, we've caused a state change in the cells so that they will draw and hold more water than before. As we cook the meat, the heated proteins will begin to draw in tighter and squeeze out water, but, hopefully, enough water will remain to produce a juicy, tender piece of meat.

    Brining Solution
    So, how much salt in water is used for brining? That really depends on how long of a brine you want and how salty you want the final product. A weak brine will require a longer brining time to achieve the same saltiness as a strong brine. When I need a moderate strength brine, I use 1/2 cup (about 150 g) of table salt per gallon of water. (Higher concentrations of salt can be used to reduce brining times, but the amount of salt and the time it takes to brine is dependent on the muscle structure of the particular piece of meat.) Using kosher salt is a common practice, but different manufacturers grind the salt to different levels of coarseness, so kosher salt should be weighed before adding to water. For small amounts of salt, the salt can be dissolved into cold water, but for larger quantities it may be necessary to heat the water to dissolve the salt.

    Brining Time
    Always start with a cold brine. If you heated the brine, then refrigerate it before using it. The raw meat will be in the brine for a number of hours, so we don't want the temperature of the meat to rise higher than refrigerator temperatures (40°F, 4°C) if we can help it. Place the brine in a noncorrosive container like a plastic or glass container, plastic bag, or a stainless steel pot.

    The brining time depends on the shape of your meat as well as the type of meat. Generally, a good rule of thumb is 2 hours per pound of solid poultry when using the 1/2 cup salt per gallon brine. Cut up poultry will have reduced brining time. For chicken pieces like breasts or thighs, 2 hours is usually enough time. Pork may take about four times as long to brine as poultry. In most cases, it's difficult to predict how fast the salt moves into the meat when you double or halve the salt in the brine, but it's worth experimenting with to have your brining "finish" at a time where you will be around to remove the meat from the brine.

    When you remove the meat from the brine, rinse off the excess salt from the surface and return the meat to the refrigerator to await cooking. Pour out the brine after each brining. (No need to have a half gallon of raw meat juice infused salt water lying around growing germs...)
  13. pescadero

    pescadero Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    I am not presenting this as scientific fact. I am simply sharing what I learned from researching this. But, it is my understanding that a person wirh HBP or on a low-salt diet could achieve the desired results several ways.

    One would be lowering the amount of salt in the brine, resulting in a somewhat less effective brine, yet still brining nonetheless. And, unfortunately, still using some salt.

    Another would be to switch to low salt or salt substitute. Here the diffusion or osmosis activity would still bring in your modified solution. Once again you would still be brining but with this modified solution.

    Still another approach would be to make up a brine solution with no salt, nothing but your flavors. These would still be drawn in, although much less than if they had the salt to help them make the trip.

    Or as you say, you could leave out brining altogether and simply inject your flavors.

    In my situation, I am going to brine with a very flavorful yet salt free solution. I will make it fairly strong because it will be salt free and must rely on the imbalance between the raw bird and my strong solution to force the diffusion and osmosis process. (If using salt to help produce that process I could get away with a less strong solution) I plan on giving the bird a 24 hour soak. After which, I plan on injecting. So I am giving mine the best of both worlds and still eliminate the salt altogether.

    As mentioned above, the first part is what I learned during my research. I leave it to you, to decide if you agree or not.

    This last part is just an explanation for what I plan on doing with my T'Day bird.

    Hope that clears things up a little Squeezy. Good luck with whichever process you choose. And hope you have a great holiday.

  14. cactus

    cactus Newbie

    By eliminating the salt, you are making a marinade, and not a brine. You could look up a brine, instead of osmosis. I am allowed to state things that you may percieve as opinion.

    IMO: if you are going to inject then thats your best bet. I am sure you will have a great turkey.

    So thank you, but the story is just to say that I have eaten a "brined" poultry without salt. It tasted more like water than chicken, next time I will only state that fact as evidence.
  15. smokeys my pet

    smokeys my pet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you all for the great input. I believe I will just inject this time since I will be sharing with some family with issues.

    Thanks again to all.
  16. twomill

    twomill Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Without the salt there is no brine solution. If you want to take water and spices or fruit juices and spices without adding the salt to the solution; you would not have a brine solution, you would have a marinade.

    If the concern is the salt used in brining because of health concerns then I would suggest a low sodium injection or a marinade or both. Hope it turns out well.

    I may even have to try it on some chicken just to see how it turns out.
  17. pescadero

    pescadero Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    You have received a lot of information in a very short time. I don't know if we have helped or hindered !! [​IMG]

    Since injecting alone, will still produce a very tasty bird, I don't think you can go wrong.

    I hope you and your family have a great holiday.

  18. deejaydebi

    deejaydebi Smoking Guru

    Injecting the meat gives it a great taste too hon! I've done it for years with baked, broiled and grilled meats.

    Don't forget the garlic!
  19. pescadero

    pescadero Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


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