Breaking the Brining Rules

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Keri C

TVWBB Wizard
If it's any consolation to anyone, I regularly brine "pumped" turkeys and have no problem with over-saltiness. You know the apple juice-honey brine that I use all the time? Well, I use it on "pumped" Honeysuckle Whites, store-brand birds, etc, and I don't get oversaltiness. What DOES happen is that a processed "pumped" bird does NOT absorb as much of the flavor of the brine as a natural unpumped bird does. The load of turkeys I took to my grandmother's apartment complex for their Thanksgiving potluck dinner this last Friday night were pumped, and were also brined for 20 hours in my apple-honey brine. There were many compliments, including one little lady who was overheard telling another resident (NOT my grandmother) that she didn't even really like turkey, but that those at the dinner were the best she'd tasted in years - that they "tasted like she remembered them tasting when she was young and back on the farm".

Now I know that the general consensus is "Don't Brine Processed Birds", but I for one do it on a regular basis for extra moisture insurance, and it works fine for me. Thus I say that if you want to try brining a processed bird, go for it - I know that my formula, well rinsed, works for a 20 - 24 hour brining session without giving an overly salty result.

When these little ladies and gentlemen (okay just five so far) approach my grandmother and ask if she thought I could do them a turkey "just like those she brought for our dinner", and when friends and family request repeats of these, I take that as a sign that something's working okay.

Just thought I'd share that little bit of info.

Keri C, smokin' on Tulsa Time
(who doesn't care if she even SEES another turkey for a while...
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Thanks for that, Keri. That cinched it for me.

Just returned from the store with a 20lb pumped Honeysuckle, and an eight lb. pumped breast (that sounds kinda funny). Having about 25 people over Thursday and doing the big bird conventionally in the oven, and the breast, plus assorted thighs and drumsticks with a light rub on the WSM, using some sugar maple and pecan wood. I'm now going to brine everything in your mixture.

By the way, really enjoyed your post the other day about the bird you did, as well as the photos. Nice job.

Found this great site yesterday, since I bought my WSM just last Thursday. Getting heavily back into barbeque and contests now that my daughter is done with competitive softball (110 games a season from March-August). Invested in a huge Good One smoker, and have a couple of others with the offset firebox (pains in the a-- as it relates to keeping steady termperature) so another smoker wasn't a high priority. A couple of my buddies raved about the WSM, but I was very skeptical since I had a small Brinkman bullet years ago and didn't care for it. Boy, was I wrong!

Tested it with some turkey parts and a small butt (no, pork) on Friday. They came out great. Did a tri-tip roast today--one chimney of Maple Leaf kept a steady 250 for the 2 1/2 hours it took the roast to reach a perfect 145. Looking forward to using this in competitions to supplement the big monster. Might even get another. After all, you can't have too much money or too many smokers.

Lastly, I'm amazed I'm sitting here with the Food Network on, recipes and cook books scattered all over my desk, typing into a cooking forum on a cooking site I'm reading every post of, from what seems to be like-minded people. Are we crazy, passionate ...both?
I couldn't agree with you more about brining the pumped birds. I just adjust the salt content on the pumped birds, with no problems! And also about "repeat requests" for our birds. I do one every year for our Thanksgiving and Christmas parties at work. After eating the birds at the parties, I have several requests to smoke turkeys for co-workers. I enjoy doing it but when they pay you to do them you get a great deal of satisfaction! Doing something you enjoy and getting paid to do it!
Thanks, Keri. That just reinforced my experience from last week. The enhanced breast I did as a test run came out great!

The really good news is, yesterday I found some fresh, unenhanced, turkey breasts at my local grocer. That'll be going into the Honey Brine tomorrow!
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