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Disappointing Smoked Turkey

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I've used the same brine and spices in the past though it's been a few years. This year I tried again with the only difference being that I bought a fresh turkey-no solutions injected. It turned out pretty dry and really didn't seem to pick up the spices. I used a combination of hickory, pecan, and apple for the smoke. I use a wood fired offset smoker that I built a few years ago.

Could the fresh turkey have made that much of a difference? I'm curious as to methods others have used for fresh turkeys.

Thank You
 

GonnaSmoke

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I baked a frozen Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving and it had an 8% solution added. I brined it mostly as I normally would but cut the salt back by about 1/4 or so and it turned out moist. I bought a fresh Butterball turkey today that has a 4% solution added and my plan is to brine it tomorrow for 24 hours with my standard solution and smoke it on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see the difference if any...

BTW, I bought the fresh turkey today because it was reduced to 39¢/lb...
 

SmokinEdge

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Inject with brine with added STPP (phosphate) this will up the flavor, and make it juicy. Many injections out there with STPP. Or create your own, but inject.
 

TNJAKE

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I baked a frozen Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving and it had an 8% solution added. I brined it mostly as I normally would but cut the salt back by about 1/4 or so and it turned out moist. I bought a fresh Butterball turkey today that has a 4% solution added and my plan is to brine it tomorrow for 24 hours with my standard solution and smoke it on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see the difference if any...

BTW, I bought the fresh turkey today because it was reduced to 39¢/lb...
Whats "baked" mean? Lol just messing with ya bud
 

bregent

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Could the fresh turkey have made that much of a difference?
Sure, it's very possible. If you did everything the same, but the bird did not have the 4-8% solution that you typically get, then you could certainly expect a difference. What temp was the breast when you pulled it?
Spices really don't do much in a brine - they absorb too slowly. It's best to put these on the bird directly or inject.
 

tallbm

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I've used the same brine and spices in the past though it's been a few years. This year I tried again with the only difference being that I bought a fresh turkey-no solutions injected. It turned out pretty dry and really didn't seem to pick up the spices. I used a combination of hickory, pecan, and apple for the smoke. I use a wood fired offset smoker that I built a few years ago.

Could the fresh turkey have made that much of a difference? I'm curious as to methods others have used for fresh turkeys.

Thank You
Hi there and welcome!
Differences in size of the bird can make things wildly different. The same brine for a 12 pound bird vs a 20 pound bird would give very different results.

I'm all about injecting the brine into turkeys once mixed up.

Also it's best to do an equilibrium brine so that you ALWAYS nail it.
An equilibrium brine is where you take the weight of the meat + the weight of the water and then add like 1.7% salt to it.
This way the entire thing (water and meat) will have an even 1.7% salt distribute evenly throughout. This is a fairly good % to go with whether the bird is enhanced or not. If enhanced as much as a butter ball you can likely go down to 1.6% or 1.55% and be good to go.

Now you never have to worry about the size of the bird changing because the math is always going to get it right for you :)

I hope this info helps.
 

sandyut

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way back when, I bought some turkey breasts that were not manipulated at all (WFs) and expensive. worst turkey i ever smoked. At the time everything I read say not to get birds with salt solution - I took that very literal.
Fast forward years of experience: I buy what ever turkey is available (normally with salt solutions) brine per normal, smoke per normal and always good eats. Some folks say brining a birds that has salt solution will make it saltier, but that is not really possible. Science says otherwise.
 

Rookie_Smoker_Rob

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Hi there and welcome!
Differences in size of the bird can make things wildly different. The same brine for a 12 pound bird vs a 20 pound bird would give very different results.

I'm all about injecting the brine into turkeys once mixed up.

Also it's best to do an equilibrium brine so that you ALWAYS nail it.
An equilibrium brine is where you take the weight of the meat + the weight of the water and then add like 1.7% salt to it.
This way the entire thing (water and meat) will have an even 1.7% salt distribute evenly throughout. This is a fairly good % to go with whether the bird is enhanced or not. If enhanced as much as a butter ball you can likely go down to 1.6% or 1.55% and be good to go.

Now you never have to worry about the size of the bird changing because the math is always going to get it right for you :)

I hope this info helps.
Sandyut,
So if I'm understanding your recommendation correctly for a 19# turkey in 2 gallons of brine the added salt would be .6 pounds or about 1 cup? The brine recipe I used called for 1 cup per gallon of water.
 

tallbm

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Sandyut,
So if I'm understanding your recommendation correctly for a 19# turkey in 2 gallons of brine the added salt would be .6 pounds or about 1 cup? The brine recipe I used called for 1 cup per gallon of water.
This calculator works for Wet cure and brines. If only brining ignore the cure#1 numbers.
  • 19 pounds of turkey and 2 gallons of water (total about 35-36'ish lbs), so lets go with 36lbs = 16329.24 grams
  • 16329.24 grams using 1.7% salt will give you 223.06 grams of salt in this case

1638683324214.png


I did a quick google of how many grams are in a cup of salt and google says 273.12 gm
Now this will be different weights based on type of salt as volume measurements are but lets just go with 273.12 gm as a fairly good estimation.
As you can see 273.12 grams per gallon of water would be WAY high if you had 2 gallons of water (total = 546.24). The calculator above has a total of 223.06 for 2 gallons and a 19lb turkey.

That means 273.12 gm or 1 cup of salt is about 1.9% salt per gallon of water.
This is not going to ever give you accurate amounts of salt needed once you add the turkey into the mix.
If you calculate turkey weight + water weight and then 1.7% of that will ALWAYS give you proper ratios.

In short, the cup per gallon of water loses its effectiveness as the bird weight gets bigger/higher. It becomes too salty as the bird weight gets smaller.
That practice does not scale.


I threw a lot at you here so I hope it makes sense to you.
It's just good practice to know how to nail the salt measurement for brining so that you never have disappointing results gain. It really sucks to get poor taste after all that work, time, and effort with a big bird for a holiday event.

I hope this helps :)
 

jcam222

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Is simply say yes the fresh bird can what you’ve bought in the past that was pumped full of brine is the difference.
 

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