My turkey brine is quick and easy. I just put it together in a few minutes, and you can too. Start by putting 1 cup of salt without anti-caking agents added, like canning salt, in a medium-sized pot. Add 1/2 cup (or a little more) of honey, brown sugar, or molasses. Use what you have! Add enough water to come about half way up the side of the pan, completely covering the salt and honey. Bring the pot to a boil. While the pot gets hot, assemble the rest of your ingredients. Put 2 tablespoons each peppercorns (mixed or all black) and 2 tablespoons whole allspice berries together to be crushed. You can crush them in a chopper, with the side of a heavy knife blade, with a cast iron pan, or with a mortar and pestle. As the salt-honey-water mixture comes to a boil, drop in the sort-of crushed peppercorns and allspice berries. Now add 2 tablespoons juniper berries. Juniper berries add a wild flavor to farm-raised turkey. Has the pot boiled yet? Let it boil for a minute or two and then turn off the heat. Add a heaping tablespoon of celery seed and some chopped garlic or dried garlic. (I had some dried garlic that I wanted to get rid of, so I put that in.) Now put a lid on that pot and walk away until it cools down. In a few hours, I’ll add at least one cup of cider vinegar. Sometimes I’ll add a sweetish wine too, like white port. I also will put in handfuls of fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, and thyme. I have a canning pot that is large enough to hold the 18-pound turkey I’ve been thawing over several days. I’ll put the turkey in the canning pot and alternate adding my brine mixture with water until the turkey is completely covered. You can use a very large ziplock bag if you do not have a pot big enough to hold your turkey. Refrigerate the turkey until you are ready to roast it, preferably giving the brine time to work overnight.
- 1 cup canning salt (Kosher or sea salt are okay too but more expensive; do not use standard table salt)
- 1/2 + cup honey, molasses, or brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons peppercorns (mixed or all black)
- 2 Tablespoons allspice berries
- 2 Tablespoons juniper berries
- 1 heaping Tablespoon celery seed
- 1 scant Tablespoon garlic (dried okay)
- 1 cup (or more) real apple cider vinegar
- optional: 1 cup white port (homemade wine is really good for this purpose)
What special ingredients do you add to your brine? Please share!