Brine For Meat

WARNING: May require a very large container, that must fit in the refrigerator.

An excellent site for understanding the brining process..: Brine

To brine is a process of infusing flavor and moisture into meat.  Brining is used to make some very common meat such as corned beef, turkeys at thanksgiving.  Brining turkey has become quite popular the past few years.  The original concept was to preserve meat that could not be refrigerated, but the current times have found that it’s still quite handy for infusing flavor and moisture into meats that can be dry when cooked.

My process was for a 12.5 pound fresh ham that came from a hog that was butchered from a cousin.  The only constraint I had was having a container large enough the hold the 12.5 lb. ham and almost a gallon and a half of liquid.

The container has to be large enough to hold the meat yet deep enough to be able to cover the meat completely with water.  No part of the meat can be out of the water or it’s not supposed to work very well.  I could not cut in half due to the bone, so I had to trim the ham down to be able to do this, my container was not deep enough, was plenty large but the ham was too tall.  Trial and error happened and gladly to say not too much error. I didn’t end up with Brine all over the fridge.

The only key to remember is that you need to have 1 c. of Kosher Salt(only) to every gallon of fluid.  The fluid can be any thing, mostly it’s water but any type of fluids such as beer, fruit juices, vinegars, etc.. Double check the brine web site for any juices that are acidic, such as lemon and vinegars these can cause an adjustment requirement in your brining time.

The Recipe I created for this ham included the following Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 gallon of water
  • 2 c. liquid smoke, (larger bottles can be purchased than the average 2-3 oz. bottle)
  • 1 1/2 c. Kosher salt(only)-table salt with iodine will not work
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. dried dill
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried rosemary


In a large bowl add 2 qts. of your water that is hot or boiling, add salt and sugar to this hot water and stir until the salt has dissolved.  The rest of the liquid needs to be very cold, all fluid that goes around the meat needs to be cold so not to cook the meat while it’s soaking.

Once salt is dissolved, add all other fluids and ingredients.  Pour over meat, (if your meat and fluid are going to come close to the top, add part of your fluid and add the rest once it’s in the fridge so not to make a mess while moving.  Then scoop some out before removing from the fridge.)  If your meat floats, place something on top the keep it weighted down.

I let this ham soak for 15 hours, it would not have hurt it to soak longer.  Then, once time is up, pour out the brine, rinse the meat off and cook in oven or roaster.  Do not cook in the brine juice it could cause a reverse effect on you meat.  Add fresh water or broth.

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