I want to pass on my grandmothers’ preparation for the family Thanksgiving family feast. Right now, 24-hours prior to the big day, let’s talk about brining your family turkey.

Brining a turkey has been popular for about 20-years now for foodies however, my grandmother and I did this back when I use to have to stand on a kitchen chair to help her. I have been over to friends’ houses for Thanksgiving and I could always tell if the host had brined the turkey before cooking. Brining makes that bird so much better in flavor and moistness.

The process started with my grandmother going to the local butcher about a week prior to pick up a 21 to 22-pound turkey. Once she brought it home, she would have my grandfather hang the turkey in her root cellar.

A day before Thanksgiving she would mix her brining solution together early in the morning and then put the brine outside to cool down to at least 60-degrees. She thought that adding a turkey to a hot or warm brine was not healthy.

This is grandma’s Kurz’s turkey brining recipe,

3 – Cups Kosher or brining salt

2 – Cups Light Brown Sugar

3 – Tbsps. of Dried Tarragon

3 – Tbsps. Of dried Black Pepper

3 – Tbsps. Of dried Parsley

3 – Tbsps. of dried Sage

6 – Bay Leaves

1 – Orange, zest, and juice

In your biggest pot, fill 80% full of water and put on the stove and bring to a simmer. Once there add the salt & sugar and stir to they are dissolved. Once dissolved add the other ingredients and remove from the heat. Place the brine outside or in the fridge to cool to below 60-degrees.

Brining solution cooling

In preparation for the turkey and brining solution, get ready a big pot or what I use is a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket lined with kitchen trash bag. You do not need the bag as Home Depot buckets are food grade. I just use the kitchen bag for easier cleanup.

When the brine solution is close to 60-degrees, I pull the turkey from the refrigerator, rinse it out and salt & pepper well the inside and outside. Once that is done, I place the turkey into the lined bucket and then pour in the brining solution. Typically, I must add a weight (Pack of Frozen veggies works) to keep the turkey submerged in the solution. Add a bit more  water if need so the brining solution covers the turkey.

Then place the turkey is a cold location, under 48-degrees temp or better. My wife who is a retired chef would prefer a colder spot under 42-degrees. I use our extra refrigerator in our cellar.

Turkey covered with brining solution. Ready for a weight and then the refrigerator.

In the past when we did not have a basement, I covered the turkey with ice and set it outside. When we lived in Florida, we used a small cooler and kept adding ice.

Soak the turkey for a minimum of 12-hours however, more is better. Typically, I brine for 20 to 24-hours.

Pull the turkey from the brining solution and allow to drain for about an hour before you put in the oven to cook which is another story that I will cover if I have time later today.

I owe everything I know about cooking to my grandmother. Enjoy!

Freedom Through Self-Reliance 

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