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Does adding stuff to a brine....

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
.....actually add any flavors to the meat? Have only burned a few pork chops and chicken breasts. Have seen some folks adding garlic, onion etc to their brines. Do they actually flavor the meat?
post #2 of 40

 It not only adds flavor, it takes it through to the bone, not just on the surface. Great on poultry, good on pork.



post #3 of 40
ROUXBE cooking school recommends brining to add flavor... "infuse" being the key word.....

infuse, suffuse, imbue, ingrain, inoculate, leaven mean to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout.

Brining is also a very effective way to infuse flavor into neutral-flavored meats such as chicken, turkey and pork loin. For example, if you’d like to infuse the flavor of garlic and thyme into your next chicken, you can do this through brining. Learn this simple and important technique and you will enjoy juicy, flavorful meat every time.

post #4 of 40
I would just have to add that whether or not other seasonings technically penetrate the meat or not, it definitely adds flavor to the final product. Brine something with pops brine as is, then brine something with pops brine and add pepper, garlic, onion powder, bay leaf, etc. Then tell me there is no difference? It's just like basic marinating. Even if the meat does or doesn't absorb the marinade you are still left with a much more flavorful piece of meat so to say that it makes no difference, in my opinion, is false.
post #5 of 40

My wife has been brining her Thanksgiving Turkeys for years before it became a popular fad. I can testify it improves flavor and moisture. Besides a good husband would never argue with the Chef.

post #6 of 40

So...Some guy with a Website says Brine adds no flavor and that makes it so? I once read a site, and I am paraphrasing here, that claimed Mother's Milk is BAD for babies because it contains high amounts of Glutamate, saying Mom's are poisoning their kids with MSG...Sad...

Yes, some long standing cooking beliefs have been proven false...Searing Meat does not " lock " in juices. But Brining and Marinating imparts flavor. Muscle is not impervious. There is more than enough space between muscle fibers for dissolved flavors in the brining liquid to penetrate. Those flavors do not penetrate the individual muscle cells and effect them the way Salt does, but we are talking two different processes...JJ

post #7 of 40
I can personally attest to the fact that brining DOES add flavor throughout the meat. Brine is simply a different type of marinade that, when used for a sufficient amount of time, will be absorbed throughout the meat. Marinate a steak overnight and then cut it in half and see how far the marinade has penetrated the meat. That should be sufficient to prove that article wrong. Smoke on the other hand only penetrates a small amount which is why brining, marinating, or injections are all great additions to a good smoke.
post #8 of 40


post #9 of 40
Since the white of an egg is protein, like meat is a protein, below is an example of beet root juice penetrating an egg white.....

post #10 of 40
Originally Posted by inkjunkie View Post

.....actually add any flavors to the meat? Have only burned a few pork chops and chicken breasts. Have seen some folks adding garlic, onion etc to their brines. Do they actually flavor the meat?

Man, I love a food fight...especially Dave turning a egg red to prove his point. Which he is right but did not say why he is. So here is my 2 cents.


inkjunkie, yes WATER-SOLUBLE seasonings (juice of onion garlic) do penetrate meat along with the salt water. But only goes as far as the brine penetrates. The longer you leave it in brine the further it penetrates. Many herbs are fat soluble and do nothing for meat but do flavor fat. Seasons on the surface still hit the taste buds.

Edited by Maple Sticks - 12/19/15 at 9:13am
post #11 of 40
Anyone going to do a 24 hour beet juice marinade on a thick slab? Haha. Most everyone is here to learn and get ideas. Some to flex their brains.
post #12 of 40
Originally Posted by AK1 View Post

Well Dave, the protein in egg white is different from the protein in meat ,and the molecules that are penetrating the egg most likely would not have the same effect on meat. Alas, Stevea is more right than you guys are, if you actually want to put effort into reading the science rather than just using anecdotal evidence.

I agree 100% on the egg.  Not a fair comparison to most other meats.  But the amazing ribs site does have a point.  For marinades, it does impart flavor but only near the surface.  I personally do not like to marinade because I don't get as much flavor as I want from it, so I usually do a wet or dry rub.  For brines though, the flavor goes a lot deeper, mainly because of the salt and water (as opposed to oil in marinades, which do not mix well with water, which meats contain a lot of).  I only brined a couple times before, nothing crazy, just a basic brine with salt, sugar, water, and once have I thrown in garlic and onions.  I personally did not notice a difference, but I did not brine for very long, and from what I heard, it needs to brine longer for other flavors to penetrate deeper do to being larger molecules; also I have little experience with brining so I do not want to say too much about it.


Here is the article from amazing ribs about brining: http://amazingribs.com/recipes/rubs_pastes_marinades_and_brines/zen_of_brines.html


Just remember to have fun with it.  What may work for you may not work for someone else, just try different things to see what suits you.  Even if it does or does not do anything affect the meat, the end result is the important part.

post #13 of 40

While it is relatively easy to brine with salt and sugar its difficult to get onion and garlic in high enough concentrations to taste. I don't bother with anything but salt and sometimes sugar.

Edited by Maple Sticks - 12/20/15 at 7:01pm
post #14 of 40

Whew.... fire.gif Time to cool things off.  


As a side note.  If no one is going to eat that egg, can I have it?  It looks delicious.


post #15 of 40
Originally Posted by BDSkelly View Post

Whew.... fire.gif Time to cool things off.  


As a side note.  If no one is going to eat that egg, can I have it?  It looks delicious.


Maybe if you agree it was brined he might send you one ?

post #16 of 40

Hi everybody!  May I jump in on this discussion?  


First, allow me to have you refer to an article I wrote a few years ago, 




This is mostly from Wikipedia, as indicated.  I'm not that smart to know, that's why I wrote it.


One thing I can add that I do now, a CURING brine changes the entire fabric and texture of the meat completely throughout the meat.  And, I only use ¼ of the maximum recommended cure in my curing brine; it does the job.  My two curing brines:




Regular (non-curing) brines do only reach barely below the surface of meats other than salts, but when cooking most meats you cut and serve them so that the flavors from the surface mix with the internal salts and the combined effects 'tricks' your tongue into believing the flavor is throughout the meat   (See another Instructional, "Taste Buds" - http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/taste-buds).


To the layman, this is enough to know that methods to increase the usefulness of 'the watery deep' does affect the outcome of your laborious preparations.  One other factor - don't over cook your meats if your intent is to bring out flavors of the meats and/or ingredients added to it.  You need to temper cooking and time and temperature with added ingredients and to YOUR taste!

post #17 of 40
That's what I'm talking about! Good info without the attitude
post #18 of 40

Quote: Most everything else could be slathered on after brining since it only impacts the surface layer.

 - sugar - there is a 'sweetness' impact of course, but you could better add that after cooking without all the waste.   The surface sugars are necessary to create those tasty Maillard reactions that are part of 'bark' as well as the crust on a pan sear.  [ Despite what you read - the browning of an untreated  seared steak is NOT Maillard reaction, since there are virtually no carbohydrates there.  That's the breakdown of fats and proteins into frond].  We'd all be a bit better off using glucose or fructose rather than sucrose (table sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, the stuff in molasses) if Maillard reactions are the goal.



One of the most important flavor-producing reactions in cooking is the Maillard reaction. It is sometimes called the “browning reaction” in discussions of cooking, but that description is incomplete at best. Cooked meats, seafood, and other protein-laden foods that undergo the Maillard reaction do turn brown, but there are other reactions that also cause browning. The Maillard reaction creates brown pigments in cooked meat in a very specific way: by rearranging amino acids and certain simple sugars, which then arrange themselves in rings and collections of rings that reflect light in such a way as to give the meat a brown color.

The important thing about the Maillard reaction isn’t the color, it’s the flavors and aromas. Indeed, it should be called “the flavor reaction,” not the “browning reaction.” The molecules it produces provide the potent aromas responsible for the characteristic smells of roasting, baking, and frying. What begins as a simple reaction between amino acids and sugars quickly becomes very complicated: the molecules produced keep reacting in ever more complex ways that generate literally hundreds of various molecules. Most of these new molecules are produced in incredibly minute quantities, but that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.




et me suggest something a bit radical tho' obvious. Most spices & especially herbs fade with heat.  Anyone who's added basil to a tomato sauce then simmered for ~10 minutes realizes the basil flavor is lost, oregano less-so.  I don't have any organized knowledge of the individual spice/herb heat issues, but my experience suggests:

 - paprika & cayenne -  can take a lot of heat and retain all the 'hotness' and 'smokiness', but everything else fades.

 - black pepper - fades significantly at the boiling point - but isn't lost. 

 - onion & garlic - change when heated (more like roast onion/garlic - mellow not 'sharp').  The granulated and 'salt' forms taste weird to start with.

 - oregano & celery seed - nearly lost in the heat.

 - cumin - like basil you can cook this out of a chili sauce at the boiling point in a few minutes, very unstable.

 - mustard/horseradish  - certainly loses a lot of heat during cooking.

 - the flavor of clove & allspice (in part eugenol) can reportedly penetrate meat.  this molecule is a bit smaller than glucose and more mobile, and less polar.  It's also thermally stable tho' it will

     boil ~500F.  I'm not a big fan of this flavor - well maybe a LITTLE in ham, but it could survive a smoker.

 - ginger - I've read it can stand heat, but it's nothing I'm very interested in.


If you were Culinary educated or worked with a professional Chef you would know that the end result in cooking is greater than the sum of the parts. Herbs and Spices impart their flavors and although volatile DO NOT evaporate or decompose completely, they do change in flavor. Chef's take advantage of this to " Layer " flavors adding herbs and spices both at the beginning and the end of the cooking process depending on the desired flavor profile. Cumin cooks out at the boiling point...Very unstable? Have you never eaten a well made Chili that has cooked for hours? The flavor Cumin imparts is quite strong but over time mellows. In any event it is most definitely still there. Paprika fades? You must not have made or eaten Chicken Paprikash. Simmers for an hour and is full of Paprika flavor. Every Pro I ever met adds Black Pepper multiple times through out the cooking process to take advantage of it's multiple flavors released as it cooks. Oregano nearly lost? Tell Italian Grandma's that when they spend all day simmering the pot of Sunday Gravy the flavor of Oregano is nearly lost. It's not. You got Basil right. But the Pro's add the stems at the beginning and the leaves at the end of a cook. Two completely different flavors


Steve, I am so disappointed... I spent all that money on Culinary School, working in the industry for years learning from many Pro's including Certified Master Chefs and taught hundreds of students...And all I had to do was read a couple of books and watch Alton Brown...JJ 


BTW...Becoming a Pro Chef was my second career. My first career was in Electrical Engineering...I ACED Bio 101. Physics was more challenging, got B's and C's...th_dunno-1[1].gif 

Edited by Chef JimmyJ - 12/21/15 at 2:21am
post #19 of 40
I always put oranges or blood oranges in my poultry brine. Been doing it for years, and everyone who's eaten that turkey or chicken has told me they taste the citrus in it. I always do as well.

Don't need a book, television show, online troll, or fancy chef to tell me what I'm tasting is wrong.

If you try it in your brine, like it in your brine, use it in your brine. To many cooks in the kitchen sometimes.
post #20 of 40
This thread has been cleaned up. It got way out of hand. Remember we are here to help people. Please dont have attitudes when having a constructive conversation. If you can't do this then don't reply or your fate will be the same as Stevea

Now back to the original Question.

I have brined with just salt water and then with other seasonings. I know that I get better flavor with the other seasonings. I do not know the science behind this but I would recomment you to try it both ways for yourself and see what you like?
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