To make a good brine, gather water, salt, and optionally, dried herbs, sugar and seasonings. Pork goes well with herbs such as sage, rosemary and oregano as well as brown sugar, molasses, allspice, ginger and cinnamon.Continue Reading
Brining keeps meats tender and juicy by both increasing the amount of moisture in the meat and denaturing the proteins. While a brine is essentially just salt and water, both the concentration of the salt and the brining time can affect the final product.
When brining pork, a good ratio is about 1/2 cup of salt to 1 quart of water (add 50 to 100 percent more salt if using kosher salt because it's less dense). With too little salt, the meat absorbs too much water and can turn out mushy; with too little water, the meat may end up dry. To make the brine, combine the ingredients in a pot on the stove, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the brine from the heat, and allow it to cool completely before adding the raw meat.
Pork chops should be brined in the refrigerator for about 4 hours at this concentration, and pork loins should be brined for up to 12 hours. Larger pieces of pork take more time, and smaller pieces take less - as little as 30 minutes for small, bite-sized pieces.
It's vital to be certain that the meat has not already been brined (the label of prebrined pork might say "extra tender"). After using the brine, discard all of the liquid. Reusing brining liquid is a safety hazard because the liquid has come in contact with raw meat.Learn more about Cooking