Why You Should Start Adding Sugar To Your Brine

Few things can ruin a meal like a tough, dried out piece of meat. Enter brining. Whether you are a newbie or an expert, brining can be a lifesaver that will help make your meats moist and tasty. What is brining? The simple answer is concentrated salted water. Per ifood.tv, brining was first used to preserve foods and salted seawater served as the brining solution. But fast forward to present day and our understanding of osmosis from high school biology or that viral gummy bear experiment, and we know brining cannot only preserve foods, but it can also tenderize and create an umami of flavor for some of your favorite foods, most notably Thanksgiving Day Turkey. To wit, Harold McGee who is an expert on the chemistry of food and cooking explained in an article for The New York Times that meats soaking in brine will add 10 percent in salt and water weight, consistently resulting in a juicy, flavorful meat.

A basic brine is simply water and salt and requires you to submerge your meat in this solution. According to The Kitchn, the most commonly accepted formula for a brine solution is a quarter cup of salt for every 4 cups of water. Once you get the salt solution down, you can get fancy and add all kinds of herbs, cut-up vegetables, citrus fruits, and seasonings. But there is another ingredient that you might want to consider adding to your brine.

Adding sugar to brine will help with browning

Cook's Illustrated concurs that brining your meat will always make it juicer and more satisfying for your taste buds, but they also suggest that if you aren't adding sugar to your brine, you might want to and here's why. The sugar will help ensure perfect browning of the meat's skin while adding a sweet flavor. The site notes that sugar does not change the texture. Cookshack also encourages briners to add sugar to their brine solutions for the same reason you do for other cooking purposes: caramelization. But they also caution that when you add too much sugar to brine for pork you might end up with it tasting like a honey baked ham. We're not quite certain how that could possibly be bad, but point taken.

Can you use brown sugar for brining? Per the Reddit community, yes you can. In fact one responder said, "Sure. It's actually better." How much sugar should you add to your brine solution? Cookshack suggests using a ratio of 2/3 cup of salt and 2/3 cup of sugar for each gallon of water when making your brine. The source says you can use white, turbinado, or brown sugar for this solution.