Easy Orange Herb Turkey Brine Mix
I grew up thinking that all turkey was dry and needed to be drenched in gravy. Not that I’m giving gravy a bad rap, because I love gravy, but that will be another blog. A few years ago I learned the benefits of brining turkey. Brining your turkey creates tender, juicy and flavorful meat by locking in the meat’s natural juices. Man-o-man it really works.
Brining was kind of scary for me — I was worried about refrigerator space and not poisoning my relatives by not keeping it cool enough. Turns out if you live in Iowa chances are pretty good the temperature will be cold enough at Thanksgiving you can keep your turkey brining in the garage (or in the back of your Honda CRV parked outdoors) for the night. Problem solved!
A brine can be a simple or complex as you want. The simplest being just a cup of Kosher Salt mixed with a cup of sugar for 2 gallons of water. I like to experiment a bit with flavors so here is my recipe for an Orange Herb mixture which I adapted from a Pioneer Woman Blog and some other similar ones from years ago.
- 1 Cup Kosher Salt
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- Orange Peel from 1 Orange
- 1½ tsp whole allspice berries
- 1½ tsp crystallized ginger (optional)
- 1 TBS whole peppercorns
- 2 Bay leaves
- 4 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 TBS chopped fresh sage
- Mix all together. I store mine in a Mason Jar until I'm ready to use it. The salt will preserve the mixture and dry out the herbs and orange peel. Put a ribbon on your jar and you have a gift from the heart!
- 2 Gallons of Cold Water (optionally 1 gallon of vegetable stock, 1 gallon water)
- Combine your brine mix and about a quart of your liquid in a sauce pan on the stove. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- In a large, food grade container (I like a 5 gallon food grade bucket with lid) combine cooled brine liquid, water and several handfuls of ice.
- Place the whole fresh or thawed turkey (10 to 14 lbs) into the brine mixture and completely submerge. Add more salt water if necessary.
- Refrigerate for 8 to 16 hours — turn turkey once if you get a chance, but you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to do it…it will be fine!
- Remove turkey and rinse inside and out with cool running water for several minutes to remove all traces of salt.
- Pat dry with paper towels.
- Discard brine.
Turkey is now ready to cook using your favorite recipe. Check out my next blog with my favorite recipe for a delicious turkey!
Keep simple and enjoy!