Brining is a common way to treat meat, poultry, and fish before cooking to enhance the flavor and juiciness of the meat. Brine is a salt solution with other herbs and spices to add flavor, but the active ingredient is salt. So, what happens if you make your brine too salty? Is there anything you can do about it, or is it ruined?
If your brine is too salty, you can reduce the salt content by adding more liquid to the brine. Also, the meat can soak for a shorter amount of time in oversalted brine, or you can soak the meat in clean, cold water after the brining time to reduce the salt content in the meat.
Many homesteaders use brining as a way of preparing meat, especially tough cuts of meat that benefit from the tenderizing effect of brining. A brine that is too salty, or food that is left in the brine too long, could result in the food being too salty to eat. There are some ways to salvage the food and get some of the excess salt out of it so it will still taste good!
NOTE: If you are wondering if you can brine two different types of meat together, read my article here!
Is Brine Supposed To Be Salty?
Brining was originally used as a preservation method for meats before refrigeration was an option. It still has relevance in the kitchen today because the piece of meat being brined has added:
Brine is supposed to be salty because salt is necessary to have the outcome of flavor and texture of the meat. If the salt content in the brine is too low, it will not absorb properly or deeply into the meat, and it will not complete the brining process.
Brine that is too salty will have the opposite effect in that too much salt will be absorbed into the meat, and the meat will remain salty when you cook it. This may make the meat unpalatable and completely inedible!
For the meat to be brined correctly it is very important to get the right:
- ratio of salt
- volume of liquid
- weight of the meat
If you are new to brining, look for a tried and tested recipe, and stick to the quantities religiously to make sure you have success on your first attempt. Once you have some experience with the brining process, you can experiment and change things up a bit.
How To Fix Salty Brine Before You Put Food In It
Let’s visit the scenario where you have started making brine, it has been cooked and cooled down, and you decide to do a taste test. To your horror, you discover that you have accidentally put too much salt in the brine.
We have all made the mistake where we have misread a recipe and accidentally added too much of an ingredient. In the case of brine, is there any way it can be rescued, or does it need to be thrown out and remade?
Fortunately, fixing a brine that is too salty is a fairly simple affair, and you will be able to save the mixture. You can simply mix up an appropriate amount of the liquid ingredients of the brine to add to your salty brine and balance out the saltiness.
Some brine recipes only use water as the liquid ingredient, while others use a mixture of water and vinegar. You would need to add appropriate amounts of the liquids according to what was recommended in the original recipe.
This would, in effect, double the recipe, and you will have more brine on hand. Reheat the brine to make sure all the ingredients combine properly and then let it cool down.
Now that you have too much brine for the cut of meat that you wanted to treat, you can simply put the excess brine into tubs or freezer bags and freeze it for later use.
What To Do With Food Soaked In Salty Brine
There are two aspects to this particular briny problem. The first is that you have soaked your food in a brine that is too salty, and the second is that you have soaked your food in the brine too long.
Brine Is Too Salty
If you have soaked the meat in the brine for the prescribed amount of time, but your brine solution was too salty, the cooked meat may be too salty to eat.
If you have already cooked the food, there is nothing you can do except discard the food. If you have not yet cooked the meat and the brine is too salty, then soak the meat in some clean, cold water to extract some of the salt content from the meat.
NOTE: The amount of soak time in the cold water depends on how over-salted the brine was, so this will be a bit of a hit-and-miss affair to know how long to soak the meat.
Another method is to soak the meat in the very salty brine for a much shorter length of time and then still give it a clean cold water soak for about 15 minutes before cooking it.
Soak Time In The Brine Was Too Long
Brining is a method that requires precise adherence to the brine recipe and to the recommended soaking times for the weight and type of meat.
Deviations from the recipe and the process can have undesirable results. If you have soaked the meat for too long in the brine, the consequence may be that it is too salty, or the meat will have a mushy, unpleasant texture.
The degree to which the meat is affected depends on how long the meat was over-brined. If you were supposed to brine the cut of meat for four hours and you brine for five, you can reduce the saltiness by soaking the meat in cold, clean water for 30 minutes or so.
If, on the other hand, the cut of meat called for a 4-hour brine and you soaked it for 8 hours or more, the meat will probably be inedible and would need to be thrown out.
The soaking time for brining can vary from 30 minutes to several days, depending on the type of meat and the weight of the cut of meat. Thus, it is of crucial importance to pay close attention to brining times.
HOT TIP: Set a notification alarm on your phone to let you know when the brining cycle should be complete. Don’t rely on your memory; forgetting to take your meat out of the brine could result in you throwing it away.
Here are some guidelines for the brining times you can expect for some types of meat.
|Fish fillet||10 to 30 Minutes|
|Skinless chicken breast||30 minutes|
|Skin-on chicken breast||30 minutes to 1 hour|
|Chicken drumsticks||2 to 4 hours|
|Whole chicken||4 to 12 hours|
|Whole turkey||12 to 24 hours|
|Pork chop with bone||30 minutes to 1 hour|
|Whole pork loin||2 to 12 hours|
These are merely guidelines for brining times, and the time will vary depending on the weight of the meat and the amount of salt in your brine. This is why it is important to follow the recommended brine time for the recipe that you are using.
For most meats, you can also use a rule-of-thumb brining time of 1 hour per pound of meat.
Brining meat is a delicate balance of:
- cut of meat
If the brine is too salty, the problem is easily remedied if you have not put any meat in it. Simply add additional liquid to balance out the salt content.
If the brine is too salty and you have already placed the meat in the brine, you can reduce the time limit that you soak the meat. Or, draw some of the saltiness out of the meat by soaking it in cold, fresh water.
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