At least as far back as the 18th century, brining was a common way to preserve meat to make sure it wouldn’t go to waste. It became popular in the age of sail due to its ability to preserve meat for years, rather than the short-term preservation of other methods. Brined meet didn’t have to be kept cold, and it let people enjoy meat all year round without needing any complicated processes.
Brining was a minimalist method for preserving meat back then, and is still used today for that very reason. Why fix what’s not broken? The simplicity of the process, as well as the availability of the necessary supplies, makes this a popular choice among preppers, large families, and anyone who is tired of meat going bad before being able to cook it. That’s the upside.
The downside, if there is one, is that the salt content of the meat after it has been brined is quite high. So, people who need to cut back on their salt intake should use caution with brined meat. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t eat it. Soaking the meat in plain water for an hour or so, then rinsing it before cooking, will help reduce the salt content.
I like pork, and will be using pork for this article. However this process can be used for a variety of meats, as well as fish.
The Supply List
No need to write this down, because the list is very short and sweet. In its simplest form, you will only need:
- Container (glass or ceramic works well)
- Sharp knife
- One fresh egg, fully intact (for testing water only)
- OPTIONAL: additional seasonings
I have additional seasonings listed as “OPTIONAL” in the above list. But, if you are like me – someone who just can’t seem to leave a recipe untouched – it’s not much of an option.
There are several variations and groupings of seasonings you could use, all depending on your likes and dislikes. Some suggestions are sugar, black peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, or any of your favorite combinations, such as Asian spices.
Related: How To Can Pulled Pork
The Process of Brining Pork
Once you have the supplies, the first thing is to make sure the container and meat are clean. Then, proceed with the following steps:
#1. Cut the meat into cubes, about 1-2 inches each.#2. Rinse the meat well with water to fully cleanse it, and set aside.
#3. Add enough water to the brining container of your choice to allow room for the meat to be added later and be fully submerged.
#4. Add the salt (the amount will be determined by the size of container). For one canning jar, I used about 1 cup salt.#5. Stir until the salt is dissolved#6. Test the water to see if it’s salty enough by placing the egg in the water. If the egg floats, there’s enough salt. If it doesn’t, add enough salt until it does.#7. Add the meat to the container, making sure it is fully covered by the salt water.
#8. If you are going to add additional flavoring, you could do it now. I added ⅓ cup sugar, 4 bay leaves, 3 garlic cloves, and about 20 black peppercorns. Keep in mind, I made a small batch.#9. Place the sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks before using.It’s hard to believe, but that’s all there is to it. So incredibly easy, yet a very powerful option for preserving meat for years. Yes, that’s right – if done properly, the meat will stay good for years!
A word of caution though; even though it’s been preserved, the meat is still raw. Make sure to cook it properly before consuming.
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