Discussion in 'Poultry' started by sprky, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi every one,

    As some of you may recall several weeks ago I posted seeking info on whether you get more meat from one big turkey or two smaller ones. Well no one could give a definite answer to this question, not even my local butchers. It seemed everyone that answered was split like my family was.

    I went to buy Turkeys last night and could find nothing bigger then just over 16#. I talked to meat manager at wally world and he told me he had some coming in today and would call me. He called me mid morning and told me the biggest he got in was 23# and there was only one that big. I told him I'd take it. I asked if they had any small ones around 12#. He told me they were ranging in size from almost 14# to 18# mostly hens very few toms, and there were plenty to choose from. I went to wally world and after sorting thew them I settled on 2 14# birds and the 23# bird. I wanted 2 small birds, who's combined weight was close to the large Bird, ounces difference not pounds. No such luck,  these will have to do.

    I am going to weigh them; before brine, after brine, after injecting, after the smoke, and again after they are cut up. By doing this I will be able too tell weight gain, weight loss,  and which way gives the most meat . This should prove to be an interesting experiment. I will update this post as things progress. Some of the data will be irrelevant at this time, but as long as I'm doing this why not gather as much data as possible, never know when you may need it. We all may learn something from this.

    The turkeys I bought are Riverside, which is a house brand, I'm told. Did some research and found out that Cargill is the owner of Riverside, as well as Honeysuckle White. Same turkey different wrapper, cheaper price.



    Asked the meat manager On this 12-15-11 date. He told me it was a typo the date should  be 1-23-13 same as best used by date. These are all flash frozen turkeys from this year, someone put today's date on the sticker. Sure hope he's right!


    In the cooler to thaw. I will add ice to the cooler when the temp gets close to 40 degrees. 


    Digital probe with remote beeper monitoring the cooler temp, alarm set for 39 degrees. The remote beeper is useless for this application, as it beeps every once in awhile when the temp is with in 20 degrees. No biggie I just check it every so often. This is 15 minutes after turkeys were put in cooler.


    I will update this as things progress. Most likely I will update when I start to brine. 
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  2. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Cool, I love a good experiment!

    You mentioned brining and injecting, everything around here is already injected or "enhanced"  and was wondering if that;s what you got.

    I'll be looking forward to the updates
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Good start. We'll be following you the whole way!
  4. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now your experiment sounds interesting and I will have to check back in fr the results.
  5. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes the birds i got are enhanced with 8%. Fresh birds can be ordered, but the cost is out of this world, last time I checked they were $2.50 a pound. I have been brining birds that are enhanced with GREAT results, not over salty in any way.
  6. Looking forward to seeing the results! [​IMG]

  7. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    UPDATE.......late but better late then never. I have been busier then a 1 legged man in an a## kicking contest, last couple days. 

    Turkeys are in the brine. I injected the brine as well (first time doing this) They went in the brine on Tuesday, they will soak till Saturday morning (long brine time also new) then I will inject with my poultry injection and smoke. The injecting and longer brine time changes, are all due to advice from respected members of this forum. I'll admit I'm a tad bit nervous about getting a salty bird doing this, but trust there advice 100%, and they say no I will not. I am brining in Reynolds brining bags this time, I normally use turkey roasting bags. I will be using them again as they are much better then the roasting bags. The bags are in the same cooler i thawed in with ice around and over bags. Temp is 34 degrees. Temp has only climbed 1 degree since I started the brining yesterday. 

    I have recorded the tag weight, cleaned weight, and  injected weight along with % of loss or gain. I was rather surprised at the amount of loss from tag weight to cleaned weight. This data will be posted when all data is collected. No pics for this update since kid borrowed the camera again, and cell phone pics cost me to send. Besides we all know what turkeys in brine look like.

    I mixed up 4 batches of brine 1 1/2 gallon per turkey and 1/2 gallon to inject. Since I had my scale out I went ahead and weighed my ingredients for the brine. I used Sure Cure which is the same thing as DQ cure #1. I made the concentrated brine's up on Monday evening and put them in freezer, and left them (way too much salt to freeze). Apple juice was on back porch so every thing was good and cold. I will be doing the do ahead tip from now on makes day of brining go so much smother, and brine is super cold, thus allowing turkey's temp to drop faster. 

    Poultry Brine

    1 1/2 Gallon Apple Juice
    5/8 Cup Kosher Salt (5 oz)
    3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar (6 oz)

    1/2 Cup Morton’s Tender Quick (4.5 oz) or 2 Tbsp DQ cure #1 (1.5 oz)
    1 Tbsp Garlic Powder ( .3 oz)
    1 Tbsp Onion Powder ( .3 oz)
    1 Tbsp Cajun Spice ( .5 oz) (Louisiana Cajun Seasoning)
    1 Tbsp Celery Seed ( .3 oz)
    1 Tbsp Pickling Spice ( .4 oz)

    1 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves ( .2 oz)


    1. Place all spices in spice grinder and grind fine.

    2. Place 4 cups of apple juice in a 4 quart sauce pan, add Salt, Sugar, cure, and spices heat and stir until completely dissolved.  

    3. Turn off heat, cover, and cool to room temp.  

    4. In a large stock pot, combine remaining apple juice with the concentrated brine.

    TIP do steps 1-3 ahead of time to allow chilling in refrigerator or freezer.  

    More updates to come
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  8. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Can't tell you if adding the Morton's, but with the cure #1 you could brine them for a couple weeks and not have them too salty.  Great experiment!

    As far as the tag, the manager was correct; most pricing machines default to that day's date and you have to enter in the "Sell By" date manually, a step easily forgotten but so important to remember... when caught, you have to bring back aaalllll the product and retag it, sometimes a very long and tedious process when training a new wrapper who forgets!   Had to do it many many times!
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  9. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well my CRS has kicked in again. A post last night reminded me I hadn't updated this experiment with the results so here they are. 

    The turkeys brined for 4 days. They were in no way salty, had better flavor and moisture. I smoked the 2 small birds at lower temp 225-250 to see if there was a difference. I gained absolutely nothing but longer cook time, and added moisture loss, as the data will show. 
    Tag Weight14.12#14.14#20.03#
    Cleaned Weight12.59#11.53#19.72#
    % Lost10.84%18.46%14.34%
    Injected Weight13.41#12.38#21.18#
    % Gained6.11%6.87%6.89%
    Brined Weight13.34#12.66#20.86#
    % Gained-0.52%2.21%-1.53%
    Brined Injected Weight14.18#13.12#21.82#
    % Gained5.92%3.51%4.40%
    Smoked Weight9.22#9.34#17.42#
    % Lost34.98%28.81%20.16%
    Carved Weight6.18#6.22#11.95#
    % lost32.97%33.40%31.40%
    Smoker Time8.5 Hrs10Hrs8.5Hrs
    Smoker Temp235235285

    I was very surprised at the amount of weight loss from tag to cleaned weight. Turkey #1 had no neck or tail, turkey #2 had a huge amount of fluid in bag, and turkey #3 looked about normal. I was also surprised that 2 turkeys actually lost weight when brined. I contribute this to equilibrium of brine as these were enhanced turkeys with up to 8%. I was very surprised at the amount of weight loss to smoking. I also learned smoking at lower temps gains you nothing you actually loose more moisture. As you can see the Larger turkey had the least amount of loss from carving, I suspect that as the turkeys get smaller there would be more lost. but on the flip side this isn't a totally accurate test since the smaller birds were smoked at a different temp, and there was more moisture loss. However the % of loss is so close I don't think it would have made a difference. So I say larger turkeys give you more meat. I also learned you need to rotate the turkeys when smoking more then 1 to provide for even cooking.

    The 2 smaller turkeys awaiting the smoker


    In the smoker. I know I need to clean the smoker but I didn't take the time after the smoke for the shop.


    Smoker temp is actually 266 this thermometer reads 33 degrees high The TBS didn't show up well it blended in with the light colored siding. this was 15 min after turkeys went in. m,y target temp was 225 - 250 I averaged around 235


    Turkey 1 out of smoker


    Turkey 2 out of smoker. First time I have ever had 1 of them pop up indicators pop. IT was 160, so that goes to show you cant trust them pop ups 


    Turkey 1 and 2 carved up. If you look close you can see the moisture


    Turkey 3 out of smoker


    I put some of the carved meat on a plate to show how juicy it is


    So there ya have it the Great turkey experiment is finished. As always I welcome you comments thoughts and input be it good, bad or ugly.
  10. kid creole

    kid creole Fire Starter

    Beautiful birds, and a great experiment.

    Thanks for doing this!

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