Everyone is always asking us how to brine a turkey and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it might be a good idea to provide some general guidelines on using Game Changer Brine & Injection on your Thanksgiving turkey. In this quick article, I will cover two easy methods; Immersion Brining and Injection Brining.

 
Oakridge BBQ Game Changer Brine & InjectionOakridge BBQ Game Changer Brine & Injection

How to Immersion Brine a Turkey:

  • First, thaw your turkey fully in the refrigerator.  If you’re running short on time and can’t thaw it out in the fridge, place the frozen bird (still in the wrapper) in a tub of cold water deep enough to fully cover it.  Rotate the turkey in the water every 30 minutes to make sure it thaws evenly.  Monitor the water temperature to ensure it doesn’t rise above 40ºF.  This will thaw a turkey in just a couple hours compared to several days in the refrigerator.  Once the bird is thawed, remove the giblets and neck from the body cavity and rinse the bird thoroughly under cold running water.

 

  • To brine your bird you will need a food-safe container large enough to hold your turkey along with enough room for up to 2-4 gallons of brine, depending on the size of your bird and the size of the container. Container options vary, but some examples are large stock pots, clean beverage coolers or a clean food-safe 5 gallon bucket. You’ll also need a way to keep the container chilled as well. This means you’ll need enough room in your refrigerator for the container or you can also float frozen jugs or bottles of water in your brine container to keep it cool. DO NOT place loose ice in your brine. As the ice melts it will dilute the concentration of the brine and alter its effectiveness. An optional method is to use a large “brine bag”. Place the turkey and chilled brine in the bag, then zip it closed. Next, place the bag in a beverage cooler lined with ice. Then pour more ice over the top of the bag. Bottom line, you must keep the temperature of the brine between 34º and 40ºF during the entire time the bird is in the brine.

 

  • To determine how much brine volume you’ll need, place your turkey in your brining container and fill the container with plain water until it covers the bird completely. Now, remove the turkey from the water and measure the remaining water. This is the correct volume of brine you will need.

 

  • The correct brine concentration ratio for our Game Changer brine is two (2) level cups, or 1.1 lbs. of brine to each gallon of water. Therefore, our 1.1lb brine package will make 1 gallon of brine at full strength, the 2.2lb size will make 2 gallons of brine at full strength, and so on. This is our Full Strength recipe. Make it ahead of time and chill it overnight in your refrigerator or use our Quick Chill method outlined on the back of the package.

 

  • The proper amount of time to brine your turkey depends on two things: 1.) the turkey’s weight, and 2.) is your turkey already “enhanced”? Be sure to read the label on your bird. If your turkey has already been “enhanced” by the manufacturer, you’ll find a statement similar to “Contains up to XX% of a blah-blah solution…” or something similar on the package, usually in small print. Nearly every supermarket brand turkey is already enhanced. Turkeys marketed as “Natural” turkeys may still be enhanced, but typically it is a much lower percentage like 3% or less. So, for a general rule of thumb, if your turkey’s label states an enhancement percentage below 5%, brine for one (1) hour per pound, and if your turkey’s label states an enhancement percentage above 5% brine for one half (1/2) hour per pound.

 

  • So for example; a 14 pound natural turkey should be brined for a maximum of 14 hours.  Do not exceed this time. However, brining for less time will still be quite effective. If you’re pressed for time, the minimum recommended brine time is six hours. If you have an enhanced turkey, cut your brine time in half. So for that same 14 pound bird, you’ll only want to brine for 7-8 hours maximum.

 

  • After the brining time has elapsed, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat the skin and body cavity completely dry with paper towels. Coat the entire bird with a light coat of extra virgin olive oil and apply an even layer of Secret Weapon, Game Bird & Chicken, Venison & Wild Game or Santa Maria rub (or any combination thereof) and place in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes prior to cooking.

 

How to Injnection Brine a Turkey:

  • Injection-brining your turkey is a great option if you are pressed for time and/or space since it doesn’t require a long soak time nor does it require a large container like immersion brining.

 

  • First, thaw your turkey fully in the refrigerator. If you’re running short on time and can’t thaw it out in the fridge, place the frozen bird (still in the wrapper) in a tub of cold water deep enough to fully cover it. Rotate the turkey in the water every 30 minutes to make sure it thaws evenly. Monitor the water temperature to ensure it doesn’t rise above 40ºF. This will thaw a turkey in just a couple hours compared to several days in the refrigerator. Once the bird is thawed, remove the giblets and neck from the body cavity and rinse the bird thoroughly under cold running water.

 

  • To injection-brine your bird you will need to temper the brine mixture with liquid sugar in order to reduce the perceived salinity in the finished product. This means you’ll need to replace the water called for in the Full Strength brine recipe with a sugary liquid instead. You will need one fluid ounce of finished injection liquid per pound of turkey. So, for example, a 16 pound turkey will take up to 16 ounces of brine injection, but no more.

 

  • Be sure to read the label on your bird.  If your turkey has already been “enhanced” by the manufacturer, you’ll find a statement similar to “Contains up to XX% of a blah-blah solution…” or something similar on the package, usually in small print. If you find you have an enhanced bird, cut your brine injection volume in half.  So, for a 16 pound enhanced bird, you’ll only want to inject it with a maximum of 8 ounces of injection.

 

  • To make 16 oz of Game Changer Turkey Injection, combine 1 cup (8 oz) Ginger Ale and 1 cup (8 oz) Goya Peach Nectar with 1/4 Cup (2.2 oz) Game Changer dry brine mix. After hundreds of hours in our test kitchen and dozens of birds, we have found this to be the best recipe. Inject the mixture up to a maximum ratio of one fluid ounce of injection per pound of meat. Make sure to equally distribute the injection all around the bird. Then let the injected bird rest in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight if time permits.

 

We also have some more great info in our Brine 101 post.

Hope this helps and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

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