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Brining a bone-in turkey breast -- How long is too long?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by desertdenizen, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. I presently have a 5lb. bone-in turkey breast that has been in the brine in the refrigerator two and one-half hours. We have decided to put off doing the breast until tomorrow. How long can I keep the breast in the brine before it begins to adversely affect the flavor of the bird?  Thanks.
  2. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Personally I would sayno more then 5 hours. After that I think that it will make the meat mushy and soft. If I were you I'd tke it out after 4 hours and then wrap it in some saran wrapp and place it onto the refrig till your ready to smoke it.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010
  3. Will do. It's almost 5 hours now. I'll take it out shortly, rinse it, dry it, cover it and put it back in the refrigerator until tomorrow...unless that's not a good idea.
  4. I don't know what a Q-view is, although I am speculating it is a review of my barbecue, but here goes...Overall: tasty, not too smoky, but a little dry. Problems encountered: temperature control -- I switched my charcoal pan for a grilling wok and forgot that the greatly increased airflow would make my usual amount of charcoal too much charcoal, hence too hot a fire. Bled off the heat, eventually, temp got too low, added more charcoal (read: too much), temp too high again, bled off heat...you get the picture. I may wind up foregoing smoking a small turkey for Thanksgiving. I don't think I'm sufficiently skillful to handle that task, yet.
  5. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The review you gave with pics is good qview
  6. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Why not remind us what kind of smoker you have.  It's to early to blow off a smoked turkey for TG.  You have plenty of time to get it right before the big day, we are here to help.

    What kind of smoker, any wood?  What temps are you shooting for?  Give some info and I am sure someone here has the same smoker or has had the same problems.
  7. Hi, I have a Brinkmann Square Vertical smoker. Two doors on front, two racks, water pan, charcoal pan. I used Kingsford Hickory charcoal briquets, with hickory chips for smoke.
  8. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    length of time in the brine can vary depending on the strength of the brine. For poultry parts I don't go more than six hours. I have found that a combo of Apple and Maple go very well with turkey.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  9. I took out the breast after 5 hours, rinsed it, dried it, then refrigerated it in a sealed container until the next day. Maple is hard to come by here in central AZ, but I have the addresses for a couple of firewood yards here in PHX that carry hickory, pecan, apple, oak, mesquite, etc., and will check out them this weekend. So far, I have been using strictly charcoal and chips.
  10. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Never used a Brinkman square verticle but it is a charcoal, chip burner.  We can talk about it here or you can start a new thread in the appropriate section under smokers.  I think you will get a better response there and you may find some people that can give you specific advice.  

    First place I would start is trying to maintain temps with just a small amount of charcoal.  I find that using smaller amounts and adding as the day goes on makes it easier to maintain temps.  Once you get to where you can stay in the 225 - 250 range then we can see about adding a few chips directly on the fire or in a smoke pan.  Does your smoker have a water pan.  Many people say a large water pan goes a long way to moderating temps.

    If this doesn't help please start a new thread.

  11. Hi Al,

    Your ideas on regulating the amount of charcoal to, in turn, regulate the amount of heat sound dead on. The smoker does have a water pan, about the same size as the charcoal pan. I kept it filled yesterday and refilled it as often as necessary.

  12. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Also whe doing a minion method burn start with unlit charcoal filling the charcoal pan, then put 5-10 pieces of lit charcoal on top in the middle. Watch your therms and when the smoke chamber gets to be about 20-25° below your target temp, damp down the air intakes to 3/4 closed. Wait 10-15 minutes and see where your temps start to level off, if they are still to low open the intakes a little, wait, watch, & adjust as needed till you get your targe temp dialed in.

    It is always easier to catch the temps on the way up and damp them down sooner than it is to overshoot and try to get them to drop back down. Just start with less lit charcoal and you should be good to go. Run a practice or two witch some chickens and you will be in great shape for Turkey Day! Don't give up or get discouraged, we have all had the learning curve, but there are a lot of great people with great advice here to help make it a heck of a lot easier.
  13. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have brined a whole turkey overnight and then let it soak for several hours in plain water and they never turn out mushy. I do this with breasts too. As a matter of fact I just put about fifteen breasts in the brine to soak overnight. I'll do some Q-view to show you how the brine, then reverse brine works and more importantly that the meat is juicy and tender with no mushiness. I experiment all the time with these sorts of things, and this has turned out to be my best experiment yet.
  14. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    JLRodriguez is right on with the dampers being your primary fire regulation.  The amount of O2 that gets to the fire determines how hot it burns.  As he said, watch the temps on the way up, close down the dampers when you get to within 20 degrees and see what happens.   On my charcoal, stick burner I let the fire burn full blast to 350 or so with full open dampers to get the grates hot enough for me to clean them.  The higher initial temp also lets the steel heat up.  When I open up the cooking chamber to clean the grates the temp falls and I start trying to regulate on the way back up.

    Be patient,  this is not a fast way to cook.  If you are getting wild fluctuations you are reacting to fast.  Get your smoker regulated, then add the food.  A bit of practice will get you there but unless you have a very large, heavy stick burner or an electric you need to learn how to handle temp swings.  Like I said, start with a small fire, get your dampers adjusted and then add the food and a small amount of fuel.    The only time you have a big problem is when your fire goes out or the temp goes up over 350 degrees for any length of time.

    Good Luck and

    Good Eaten
  15. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    15 breasts!!??

    Either that turkey lived near Three Mile Island, or you are planing on feeding the fire dept. again..... lol. [​IMG]
  16. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    CHICKEN breasts, LOL! that would be alot of turkey! These are the biggest chicken hooters I have ever seen though.
  17. Implants, possibly? [​IMG]
  18. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    erik, sounds like yer on the way to figuring out yer rig........that's all it really takes.
  19. smokingjhawk

    smokingjhawk Fire Starter

    As usual you have confirmed my deranged thinking about brining ,can't wait to see the Q-view on those um... Dolly Parton's[​IMG]  I am going to do some on Sunday along with a Pork Loin,  Another Question do you have any thoughts on brining Pork?
  20. TulsaJeff

    TulsaJeff Smoke Whisperer Staff Member Administrator OTBS Member

    I have found that I can brine turkey breast or whole turkeys for 12 hours or longer and it seems to reach a balance at some point and not go any further no matter how long it stays in the brine. I am not a scientist so the only facts I have are the results but my birds never get mushy or overly salty with my standard 1 cup of kosher salt to 1 gallon of water ratio.

    Having said that, I tend to just leave turkey breasts and whole turkeys over night which usually ends up being closer to 8-10 hours but none the less.. seems to not matter much after some point and no change to the texture of the meat.