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Smoked Turkey breast came out salty

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by medemt, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. medemt

    medemt Newbie

    I smoked a turkey breast (7 pounds) this weekend and I noted two issues. First, the meat was quite salty and it had a bit of an overbearing smoke flavor.

    Here are the particulars:

    1. I brined the turkey using the method in the newsletter 1 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar. Added orange slices, and a little poultry seasoning to the brine. This was all mixed in 1 gallon of water.

    2. Brined for about 12 hours.

    3. Next day, removed turkey from brine and rinsed very well with water.

    4. Rubbed olive oil all over and sprinkle a little Mrs. Dash

    5. Put orange, onion, apple slices inside the breast and in the aluminum pan.

    6. Pour 3/4 can of sprite in the pan for moisture and placed in smoker.

    7. Started at 225 degrees using Cherry wood chips.

    8. smoked for about 6 hours until temperature rose to 163 degrees F on meat probe.

    9. Last hour I put some Pecan wood in.

    10. Removed turkey and wrapped with foil and towel for 35 minutes.

    I must say that the bird was the juiciest bird I have every had. It was just too salty and I think I just over did it with the amount of wood I added to the smoker. If it maters, I have an electric Masterbuilt with the window.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated as I need to do a whole bird for T'giving.[​IMG]


    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  2. I'm going to get killed for saying this, but try injecting your bird next time instead of brining.  There are a bunch of commercial injections out there, or you can make your own with melted butter, some olive oil and some herbs and spices.  I've never been a fan of the brining thing (but I am in a huge minority)  Give the needle a shot.
  3. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    First off Welcome to SMF there Dan. Now for the bird, to me it sounds like you might have brined it for alittle longer then I normally do. But then when you seasoned it you have to remember that everything has salt in it. If I use garlic I use either really garlic or garlic powder. Then most of your poultry has a been brined already for they want the weight and it also helps to preserve it. For the over smoke flavor did you have heavy white smoke coming out of your smoker when you changed chips. You really want a thin blue smoke and not a heavy white bloowing smoke. If you can smell it your smoking. You just want a hint of smoke.
  4. Dutch

    Dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Dan- when I do a whole turkey, the bird gets brined for a minimum of 12 hours- Parts and pieces gets brined for no more than 4-6 hours and whole chicken's get the same 4-6 hour brine bath.  One thing to look at before bining any bird is to check the packaging and make sure it hasn't already been "enhanced" (a 10-15% brine solution injected into the meat).  When I have an enhanced bird, I decrease the amount of salt and also decrease the amount of time in the brine bath.

    As to your concern about your smoke-(you didn't specify what kind of smoker you used) Only add wood when you no longer can smell it.  If you can smell the wood, you're doing fine-you don't always need to see the thin blue smoke to be smoking with wood.
  5. Ha ha...."give the needle a shot"....you just made a funny....
  6. I'm wondering if 1 cup of salt for a 7lb turkey may have been a little too much to begin with. I'm not sure, and please, all you "seasoned" (no pun) veterans please feel free to add any input; but I'm going to smoke a bone-in breast this coming weekend (my first time doing a turkey breast). I think I might try reducing the amount of salt (1/2 - 3/4 cup) in my brine if I get a breast smaller than 10 lbs.
  7. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I have to agree w/ others . 12 hours is a little long to brine a breast.

     Also, Most are enhanced so there's -plenty salt allready in them.

    I did a breast on my MES and it came out fantastic .

    Brined w/ half the salt and only about 4-5 hours.

    Smoked w/ apple chips and a lil pecan.

     The salt taste was there but not bad at all.

    You don't have to brine , Try the injection ,But make your own if possible. Alot of the commercial injections have alot of salt in them.
  8. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When I do brine a turkey breast, i use 1/2 cup salt with 1 1/2 gal. of water and other seasonings. I usually do a 4-6 hr. brine and then rinse off. Most folks are right when they say that salt has been used in the enhancing process. Good luck on your next try. It's all good my friend.
  9. dale5351

    dale5351 Smoking Fanatic

    The brine mix that I have used with success on turkey and on turkey breast has proportions of 1/4 cup of kosher salt and 1/4 cup of brown sugar in 2 quarts of water.  The brine you used had twice as much salt.

    As others have said -- check the package to see if it has been "enhanced".  I like to use Shady Brook, and am pretty sure that it is not stuffed with salt broth like some others are.

    I'll echo the Thin blue smoke comments.  Only time I've had over smoked meat was when I got billows of white smoke.
  10. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One good rule of thumb a lot of folks either don't know or forget is..... Taste your brine! When you get it all mixed up dip a finger in it and taste it. You will be able to tast if it is to salty, spicy, ect., and you can either water it down or brine for less time.
  11. medemt

    medemt Newbie

    Thanks everyone for the comments. My wife had three more breasts in the freezer and I looked at the "fine print" and it does say "15% solution added to increase juiciness". Guess I learned something here. Did not know they did this. I think I will try a number of the methods discussed here and see what works best. Is the injection method as simple as sticking the bird all over and pumping the liquid in, or is there more to it than that.

    By the way, when everyone talks about the blue smoke versus a white billowing smoke (which by the way I did get a billowing white smoke each time I added some wood) the question is, how do you control that. Is it a matter of using a small amount of wood chips, soaking the chips, etc. Just to reiterate, I have an electric smoker by Masterbuilt with the side loader tray. The chips I was using were from "western woods" (Cherry and Pecan).

    I appreciate all of you helping a newbie. This is great info and am willing to learn from the Pros.


  12. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You will get billowing white each time you add wood, no way around that and it is OK. But once the wood has gotten hot enough it should settle down to thin blue, usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes. Mainly it is the folks who have billowing white smoke for the entire time that are creating creasote and making stuff taste nasty. Sounds like you are off to a good start!
  13. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    White billowing smoke is to be expected when you add wood. I know my mes fills up w/ smoke everytime.

    I  sometimes  crack my chip loader open a bit to let a little more air flow in  till i get most of the heavy smoke out the cabinet.

     As long as the smoke settles down to TBS everything will be fine.

     When we talk about not wanting heavy white smoke, We are telling folks that your smoker doesn't need to look like a freight train smoking to acchieve the smokey goodness that the wood imparts.

     I usually add a palmfull of chips at a time .
  14. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It seems you did everything correct, use less wood next time and as others have said go for that TBS

    Other ingredients may enhance the flavor of the salt, without adding salt.

    Breasts require a shorter brine time than whole birds, I would try no more than 6 hours for a breast.

    Here is what I have been doing.

    • Water to salt ratio is 1:16 or 1 cup of Kosher salt per gallon of water.

    • Sugar reduces the the taste of the salt, use the same ratio as the salt.
    • Brine about an hour a pound, I have gone longer no problem.
    • Make sure to Brine in refrigerator or ice completely submerged.
    • Don't Brine enhanced birds

    A whole lot of good advice given here, good luck on your next bird.