Apple Cider Brine

5 cups
15 min

Using an Apple Cider Brine boosts the flavor and tenderness of pork and poultry alike. Fresh herbs, garlic, whole spices, and apple cider combine to create a brine your eaters will rave about.

If you’ve never experimented with brining your poultry or pork, you’re definitely going to want to experiment with this. Yes, it takes a little preplanning, but it’s super easy and definitely worth the extra bit of effort.


When you brine meat, it not only gains liquid, it also gains salt which help to break down the proteins. This yields a more tender and juicy cut of meat. Simply put: brining improves both flavor and texture.


A basic brine solution is simple: about 4 tablespoons of kosher salt to 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Add additional herbs and seasonings to further infuse the meat with flavor. Different juices and even vinegars can also be added.


FAQS:

What meats should you brine?Lean cuts of meat benefit the most most from brining—think chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, pork chops, etc. Whole birds such as chicken, turkey, or duck also turn out much juicier after brining.

Does brining make meat salty?If you brine for an excessive length of time, the meat can become salty. However, the purpose of salt in the brine is actually to partially break down the muscle fibers in meat to create a more tender cut.

How long should I brine meat?In general, you should brine the meat about an hour per pound. For something like a large turkey, 12 hours to overnight is typical. Do take care not to over brine the meat. this can result in a salty, mushy mess.


APPLE CIDER BRINE INGREDIENTS:

  • Apple Cider: Adds a fantastic fall flavor to the meat.
  • Kosher salt: Helps to tenderize the meat.
  • Coconut sugar: Does not affect the texture of the meat, but does add flavor and aids in browning the skin.
  • Fresh herbs: Adds flavor to the brine.
  • Whole spices: Also adds flavor to the brine.


HOW TO PREPARE AN APPLE CIDER BRINE:

  • Prepare the brine a day ahead of cooking to really infuse the meat with terrific flavor.
  • Pour the apple cider into a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • While the apple cider is heating, slice the ginger root into rounds (no need to peel). Cut the garlic head in half, and lightly smash the cloves of garlic with the flat side of a chef’s knife (be careful!).
  • Once the cider begins to simmer, add the salt and coconut sugar, and stir until dissolved. Next, add in the remaining ingredients (except cold water), and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes. Cover the pot, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour in the cold water, and stir the ingredients.
  • Place the meat in a sealable container, and cover with the brine. Yes, you want to keep the herbs, garlic, and spices in the liquid with the meat; this adds flavor to the meat. Depending on the size of your poultry or pork, brine in the refrigerator from a few hours to overnight.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:


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INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS:

  • Apple cider: Apple juice will also work. If the extra flavor is not desired, simply substitute water.
  • Kosher salt: Use half the amount of table salt. Table salt is much more concentrated than kosher salt.
  • Coconut sugar: Brown or turbinado sugar will also work.
  • Herbs and spices: While not mandatory, they add a lot of extra flavor to the meat. You can omit them or substitute different herbs and spices to your liking. Use some experimentation here.


RECIPE NOTES:

  • Scale this recipe according to the cut and size of meat you are brining. For each cup of liquid you add, make sure to add another tablespoon of kosher salt.
  • You definitely need to prepare the brine at least a few hours before you plan on using it. You want the brine to be cold when you add the meat to it. Warm brine has the potential of bringing the meat to an unsafe temperature.


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Recipe details

  • 5  cups
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 10 Minutes Total time: 15 min
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Ingredients


  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 bundles fresh sage
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup cold water (or ice cubes)

Instructions


Prepare the brine a day ahead of cooking to really infuse the meat with terrific flavor.
Pour the apple cider into a large pot over medium-high heat.
While the apple cider is heating, cut the garlic head in half, and lightly smash the cloves of garlic with the flat side of a chef’s knife (be careful!).
Once the cider begins to simmer, add the salt and coconut sugar, and stir until dissolved. Next, add in the remaining ingredients (except cold water), and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes. Cover the pot, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature (at least an hour). Pour in the cold water, or ice and stir the ingredients.
Place the meat in a sealable container, and cover with the brine. Yes, you want to keep the herbs, garlic, and spices in the liquid with the meat; this adds flavor to the meat. Depending on the size of your poultry or pork, brine in the refrigerator from a few hours to overnight.

Tips

  • Scale this recipe according to the cut and size of meat you are brining. For each cup of liquid you add, make sure to add another tablespoon of kosher salt.
  • You definitely need to prepare the brine at least a few hours before you plan on using it. You want the brine to be cold when you add the meat to it. Warm brine has the potential of bringing the meat to an unsafe temperature.

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