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help with brine recipe for pork

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Looking to make this brine for some pork chops. The brine consists of the following;

2 cups water
2 cups apple cider juice
1 cup pure maple syrup
fresh ginger
fresh garlic
black peppercorns
fresh rosemary sprig
1/2 cup sea salt
1 cinnamon stick

Now I must admit that I'm not 100% familiar with brines, But do you think that the ratio between salt(1/2 cup) and liquid (5 cups) is correct? Also is sea salt a good salt or should I just use regular table salt? IMO the ingredients look good and should work very well with pork, However I'm concerned with the salt amount. Also is there anything else you would personally add? Maybe whole cloves or juniper berries or more fresh herbs such as sage or thyme? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 
Sorry one more question. How long would I brine these pork chops for? I was thinking a minimum of 8 hours, But looking for a more concrete answer. Thanks once again.
post #3 of 6
A very basic, medium strength brine, balanced across the basic "tastes" of saltiness, sweetness, and sourness, and of sufficient strength to perform relative quickly is: 1/2 cup table salt; 1 cup white sugar; and 1cup vinegar; thoroughly dissilved in 1 gallon water.

You don't have to stick with this recipe you can add, subtract or alter whatever you like -- but I suggest keeping the same balance of salt, sweet and sour (acid). This means adjusting for fruit juice, different sweeteners, etc. For instance, I frequently use a bunch of citrus -- grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange -- and make something about as strong as lemonade, but of course a lot saltier.

Your brine could use some acid. It's too sweet as well. Not too sweet in the sense that it absolutely won't work, that's a matter of taste. Too sweet in the natural meat taste will be masked rather than enhanced.

Salt which is dissolved in solution is salt. You don't get any benefit from more expensive salts like sea, kosher or volcanic salts. However, you do have to keep the proportions right (by weight). Most of the fancy salts aren't as dense as regular table salt and you have to measure differently. I can't assess your salt amount without knowing the density of the salt you plan on using.

For long brining purproses especially you don't want to use iodized salt.

It's a good idea to invest the 50 cents in a box of unoidized table salt.

Balance is the key with brines, just as it is with rubs and barbecue sauces. For your first few brines, it's a good idea to stick with similar proportions to those I gave you. Once you get a handle on brining, you can start improvising.

Using your ingredient choices:
2 cups water
1-2/3 cups apple cider
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 or 3 tbs uniodized table salt
aromatics as before

You may want to heat some of your liquids to dissolve the salt and steep the aromatics. When the brine is fully mixed, it should taste unpleasantly salty -- as well as very sour, but the "sweet" will be watery and diluted. Brine is not supposed to taste good -- it's a process not a seasoning.

When you introduce the pork, the brine should be chilled and the bring process should take place in the refrigerator. Most of us add some or all of our water in the form of ice in order to kick start the cooling process.

Three or four hours in a medium strength brine like the one suggested is adequate for a pork chop of average thickness. However the brine is weak enough that you could make the brine the night before and begin brining the porkchops in the morning if necessary.

Hope this helps,
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Great info provided. i like the idea of using both apple juice and apple cider vinigar (good tip).

It's looks like my recipe is calling for to much salt (1/2 cup), I will take your advice on going with 3 TBS. Thanks once again.
post #5 of 6
My basic brine is for every gallon of water add 12 oz. kosher & 12 oz. sugar.

Bring to 2 qts water to a boil; dissolve salt & sugar. Add 2 qts of ice water.

Then depending on what you are brining add flavor additives to suit your needs, for ex. if I'm doing smoked pork butt I substitute brown sugar for white sugar, throw in BBQ spices, jalapenos and onions.

post #6 of 6
Byers - its a good thing you asked. Half a cup and a few tablespoons are a big difference! There is an article that discusses chicken recipe secrets that mentions buttermilk as an essential ingredient. You can get milk-free buttermilk in some countries - that can be a nice alternative.
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