Apple Cider Brine

Pple Cider Brine

Details

Apple cider, juniper berries, thyme and garlic give extra flavor to this simple brine.
  • Serves: 9 lts/qts
  • Active Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Views: 35,445
  • Success: 95%

Steps

Step 1: Making the Brine

• 2 liters/quarts apple cider
• 1/2 cup brown sugar, maple syrup or honey
• 1 1/2 cups kosher salt (or 3/4 cup table salt)
• 1 tbsp black peppercorns
• 20 juniper berries
• 10 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 heads fresh garlic
• 5 liters/quarts cold water
• 2 liters/quarts ice

Method

To make this flavorful brine, place the apple cider, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries and fresh thyme into a large pot. Slice the heads of garlic horizontally and add to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once everything has dissolved, turn off the heat, cover and set aside to steep and cool.

Before brining, add 5 liters/quarts of cold water and 2 liters/quarts of ice to the mixture. You will be ready to brine up to 15 pounds of turkey, chicken or pork.

Chef's Notes

This brine is a low-salt solution brine and is suitable for large cuts of meat such as whole chickens, turkeys or large pork loins. Due to the low-salt solution, the meat can soak for 1-2 hours per pound – even overnight.

Meat that soaks in a sugary brine (such as this one, with apple cider and sugar) will brown faster during cooking. If cooking a large piece of meat (such as a turkey), you may need to cover the turkey halfway through the cooking process. This will prevent the skin from getting too dark before the meat is fully cooked through.

This brine makes approximately 9 liters/quarts, once the water and ice are added. When brining smaller items, like chickens, you do not need this much brine. You just need enough to completely submerge the food, so decrease the recipe accordingly.

Create different brines by adding ingredients such as herbs, spices, honey, molasses, apple juice, rice wine vinegar, stock, tea, beer, or wine. The flavor combinations for brines are endless.

24 Comments

  • Jackie C
    Jackie C
    Hi I want to know if I can use the apple cider brine with the roasted turkey with gravy recipe would I still be able to use that same compound butter recipe since I will be using a different brine than what the original recipe use.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You sure can, but just so you know this one will impart much more flavor into the turkey, meaning that you will be able to pick up a bit of the apple and thyme flavor. But for me I really like this about this particular brine.
  • Jackie C
    Jackie C
    Hi I've always wanted to know when a recipe calls for a bunch of this or a bunch of that. What's the proper measurement for a bunch.
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Hi Jackie... In fact, your confusion is certainly warranted. A bunch can really mean a lot of things... so I've modified the recipe to 10 sprigs of thyme. When you buy fresh thyme, it comes on the branch. So a spring is a single strand or branch of thyme.
  • Jane C
    Jane C
    where can I find juniper berries please?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Juniper berries can be found at gourmet or higher-end groceries stores (I'm sure Whole Foods carries them). If you can't find them in your neighborhood, you can always order them online. I just did a search on Amazon and came up with many results. Happy cooking!
  • Keith L
    Keith L
    I can't get them locally either. I plan on using this brine for a turkey breast that will then be put on a wood fired smoker. Brining and the low slow cooking method of wood smoke makes for a succulently moist and flavorful bird! I have brined before but not this particular recipe. A quick search revealed that crushed bay leaves, fresh rosemary and even gin can be used as a substitute for juniper berries. I wouldn't have the berries in time if I ordered them. what type of flavor do they impart anyway?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Sounds like you should give it a try. Juniper berries smell like and give a slight gin flavor as they are used to make gin. They also have a pine-like aroma, so you're combination sounds good. Cheers!
  • Jim C
    Jim C
    I see that beer and wine are also suggested liquids for a brine at the bottom to the "Text Recipe" tab, does anyone have any experience with using fermented apple cider as a brine, particularly the famous (at least in Spain) Spanish sidre from Asturias? I just may have to try it out on a small piece of meat first and report my "findings", but you never know who's out there trying new things. Thanks, Jim
  • Keith L
    Keith L
    Just made this brine again thought I would post. I have made this brine at least a dozen times now and it has become my go to brine for poultry. I have acquired juniper berries and they do make the difference. I have not deviated from the recipe much other than a bit of white wine and some cinnamon sticks and a bay leaf or two. The sweetness of the brine adds so much. Especially at the low temps of wood fired cooking. It allows the skin to brown and crisp up perfectly even at the low temps I cook at! I do alot of wood fired low and slow smoking in a professional pit. I cooked for about 50 people at a groomsmen dinner several weeks back and did about 25 lbs of turkey breast using this brine. I got more compliments on the juciness and flavor of the turkey than I did the 30lbs of prime rib! Thanks for this great recipe Rouxbe!!
  • Darren S
    Darren S
    I know this says low salt brine but this quite a bit below the 2 tbsps per litre. Is this due to the cider? Would you use a similar amount of salt if using a beer based brine?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The amount of salt in this recipe really just comes down to the fact that not every recipe is the same. If you are experimenting with a new brine then I would recommend that you stick with the ratios in the lesson. Cheers!
  • Darren S
    Darren S
    Well, I tried this with roast chicken tonight and although the chicken was really succulent no one could detect any apple taste at all! I used the exact recipe ( and 4.5lb chicken was left in brine for 7 hours) so not sure why there was no hint of apple! Maybe I didn't let steep long enough. Maybe everyone's taste buds are not sensitive enough! Is there anything else that may have caused this?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Not sure exactly what more to add. You are correct, it could have been any of the things you mentioned. Or perhaps the cider wasn't very "appley"? but it sounds like maybe it just needed to brine a bit longer? Cheers!
  • Dale C
    Dale C
    I have been reading on other sites where they suggest substituting gin - specifically 1 tsp. per 2 berries - as an alternative for anyone who does not have the actual berry. Has anyone tried this method or maybe used gin as the basis of a gastride and added it to the recipe?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    The flavor of the gin may become too diluted in the brine. Perhaps it would be better to omit it in the brine and incorporate gin somewhere else in the dish (i.e. a sauce). You sure could try adding a touch to a gastride. Cheers!
  • Peter H
    Peter H
    I suppose there's no harm in freezing unused brine? I made the whole recipe but only want to use enough to cover some turkey breasts.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Yes, you can freeze any unused brine, if you have extra. Cheers!
  • Kenneth K
    Kenneth K
    I have one question about the juniper berries, would it help the flavor of the barriers get into the brine if I was to semi crush (to break the skins) the berries.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Sure... it would perhaps create a stronger flavor if you wanted that more potent effect. Juniper is rather pronounced and a little goes a long way for many. ~Ken
  • Keith L
    Keith L
    Most of these have already been brined or soaked in a solution. How does this affect the brining instructions given here? Do these meats still benefit from the brine recipe given here or would that be like brining twice and over doing it?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Brining is really best for natural, untreated meat and not the wet brined or wet cured meats at the supermarket in a sealed bag. Having said that, I know that some of these products are just adding water (to "plump" the meat) with minimal salt, so it may still benefit from a flavor development point of view, not necessarily a tenderness/juiciness point of view. ~Ken
  • Ginnie H
    Ginnie H
    Hi, I'm wondering if I can brine a pork loin and then freeze it for use at a future date when I wouldn't have time to brine or brining wouldn't be practical? Then I could just defrost the piece and cook/roast? I know that cells expand and burst when freezing so I'm thinking this wouldn't work, but wanted to ask. Thank you, Ginnie
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    You can give it a try. A lot of meat you buy is likely already frozen and thawed, so it may not be a big deal. Try it and see how it works for you and let us know! ~Ken

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