Brining your BBQ

Brining is a great method when you want to switch up your barbecuing habits a bit from the norm. If variety truly is the spice of life then adding variety to your barbecue routine takes that spiciness to a whole new level. Brining is especially useful for mixing up your BBQ plans because its most suited for use with poultry or pork or other lean meats that have a tendency to try out on the grill. So if your usual barbecue routine revolves around a beef brisket or beef ribs, have some fun trying something new. Brined foods can be grilled or smoked, so use your favorite traditional method.

A brine is a salty solution that helps meat retain its moisture when grilled, keeping it juicy and tender. A typical brine is a saltwater solution that may contain additional herbs, spices and/or seasonings. The meat soaks, completely covered, in the mixture for about 6 to 12 hours, or up to 24. The meat soaks up that moisture and flavor and does not dry on the grill.

For the science behind the process of brining, lets take a look at how it is described on Wikipedia.

Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis.The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating.

A basic brine can be easily assembled by combining 1 cup of sea salt (or table salt works too, in a pinch) with 1 gallon of water. Use can test a brines effectiveness with a raw egg if the brine has enough salt, the egg will float.

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