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Dry Brining - Where To Let It Brine?

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    Dry Brining - Where To Let It Brine?

    Hi, this is a question about dry brining.

    Some sources say that after applying salt, the meat should be allowed to be uncovered and exposed to air, in a cold (refrigerated) place.

    1. That takes up a lot of room in the fridge.
    2. You would have to put it on some kind of rack, wouldn't you ?

    I was trying to figure out how to use a cooler for this purpose. I have just one wire rack which actually fits onto an aluminum baking sheet. The cooler I have in mine has wheel wells that protrude into the inside space. I might be able to prop up the rack on something, but then I think I would need a second layer of rack which a) I don't have, and b) not sure how I would get space between the two racks. At the moment, I'm looking at two largish tri-tips. I think the fact that I have a side-by-side fridge doesn't help.

    Where do you put your meat after you have salted it to let it sit for a few or many hours? Do you have to move everything in your fridge around to get one whole shelf available? Or what ?

    Please advise ! ! !


    With tri-tip I might just salt and wrap in plastic or ziplock. For chicken I would make room in the fridge and let it breathe.


    • FireMan
      FireMan commented
      Editing a comment

    Originally posted by Attjack View Post
    With tri-tip I might just salt and wrap in plastic or ziplock. For chicken I would make room in the fridge and let it breathe.
    Ditto. Skin, let it breathe; Flesh, keep it under wraps to some degree


      I make room in the fridge and dry brine open on a rack. I seem to get better results allowing the air to circulate around the nest and getting the outside super dry….but YMMV.


        I keep a space dedicated in the fridge for thawing or brining. Typically try to dry brine overnight uncovered on a wire rack ontop a baking sheet.


          I always put mine on a rack and uncovered during brining. It seems if I put in a bag or place on a flat sheet covered, that the pan or bag will contain juices in it. These juices need to go back into the meat and not remain in the bag or sheet.


            I don't think I would pursue an extended dry brine overnight in a cooler unless you use a leave in thermometer and get an idea of the air temperature above the ice in a closed cooler. You need it to be under 40F, and I'm just not convinced it will be. It's not like a refrigerator, where you have circulation of mechanically cooled air that eventually cools everything in the fridge to the same temp. My experience with coolers is that only the stuff in the ice gets cold.

            If you don't have room, you don't have room, and just salt it and wrap it or put it in a bag. Nothing else to do if there isn't space for it, and you really need to keep it below 40F if doing this overnight.

            I'm fortunate enough to have 2 full sized top freezer refrigerators in my garage that I picked up free from folks over the years, and I can always make space out there for dry brining. If we only had the side by side in house, I would be in the same situation as you.
            Last edited by jfmorris; December 7, 2021, 06:55 AM.


            • DaveD
              DaveD commented
              Editing a comment
              What he said. I wouldn't take a chance on the temp either, and just make do with whatever space you have. Also fortunate that we usually have space on a shelf in our back fridge for thawing and brining. Good luck!

            • Troutman
              Troutman commented
              Editing a comment
              I have the same food safety comment. If it’s a Yeti type cooler then you’re probably fine. Regardless know your cooler and watch the temps.

            • bardsleyque
              bardsleyque commented
              Editing a comment
              I'm lucky enough to also have two garage fridge's, start looking on craigslist!

            I have the same problem with my side by side. It is hell getting my pastrami in there to cure without spilling water everywhere in my containers. For similar reasons, I have always ziplocked my meats. I am glad to read that it doesn’t make a big difference, and don’t cook a lot of meats (never really) that have skin where it would be more material.

            Basically, the other parts of the cooking process are vastly more important to the eventual outcomes than dry brining in open air. Worry about the cook itself and the steps there and curse your side by side for this part like me.
            Last edited by IFindZeroBadCooks; December 7, 2021, 09:00 AM.


              I have dedicated space for brining in the garage fridge


                I've always put my beef or pork, with a heavy rub, in a pan or on a cookie sheet, and covered it. Guess I'll have to try it uncovered sometime.


                  Great question! I've always wondered about this myself. I've done both and can't say I really could tell the difference. It does make sense that you want the juice to go back into the meat. So the liquid left in a ziplock would normally go back into the meat if left uncovered, or does it just evaporate in the dry air of the fridge?


                    I salt the meat, then place it on a wire rack over a sheet pan. This allows for air to circulate around the meat and keeps the meat from soaking in the juices that are pulled from the salt.

                    That being said, I have a meat fridge fo this very purpose.

                    If you want to use a cooler, I use wire rack that I cut to fit my cooler perfectly. I then put threaded rods on the corners to the racks. I can set three rack on top of each other at a time.


                    • Rod
                      Rod commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Spinaker Why do you want to keep the meat from soaking in the juices that are pulled from the salt? Isn't that the point of dry brining?

                    • Spinaker
                      Spinaker commented
                      Editing a comment
                      No, the point is for the salt to migrate into the meat, pulling the water molecules on the surface back into the meat and holding them there. Additionally, the moisture the pools in the bottom of the pan take s the rub off of the under side of the meat. If the surface of the meat dries out too much, after multiple days of Dry brining, I always spritz the surface when I put it on the smoker. After all, smoke is attracted to cold, wet surfaces. Rod

                    • zzdocxx
                      zzdocxx commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Could you please take a few pics of your rack set up and post them so I can get a better idea of what's involved?

                    A few things...

                    1) Food safety you do NOT want to let meat sit in a 40F+ environment for hours. Period. 1 hour? fine but that's salting, not brining. Which brings us to some defining of the terms...

                    2) There are three basic things we're talking about and it's important to keep them straight. One is salting. This, to me, is simply applying salt an hour or so before you cook. Two is dry brining which is salting for a longer period, anywhere from around 4 hours to about 48. Usually overnight/24 hours. The goal here is to let the salt penetrate deeply. Three is curing where you salt something (and use curing salt as well) and let it sit for days to transform (think corned beef, ham etc).

                    Salting can be done on the counter if we're talking about letting it sit for an hour or so as you prep the rest of a meal. For several hours, stick it in the fridge, but you're not likely to have space issues then.

                    * The goal of salting is simply to let it absorb slightly before you cook it (if doing steaks etc). There's no advantage to pre-salting like this if you're doing a slow cooking roast.

                    Dry brining - as above, with room for air if skin on, otherwise zip locked. Note that 'with room for air' doesnt necessarily mean uncovered. Basically you're looking to dry the skin so it crisps and that's best done in the dry air of a refrigerator but uncovered means you need to think about cross-contamination. Give that bird some room in a sealed container and it will likely dry a bit too. If you don't want rub coming off, don't apply rub while it's dry brining (rub doesnt penetrate so there's no point in applying it way ahead of time).

                    * The goal here is to let the salt penetrate deeply. You'll pull out some moisture but not a lot. That's not the point here, salt penetration is the point

                    Curing - I'd never do this outside the refrigerator and I always do this sealed. You're not worried about the rub coming off etc because this isn't a situation where you're applying rub 7 days before you pull this.

                    * Here the goal is to pull moisture out, transform the meat and inhibit bacterial activity (though the latter isn't a big deal now, with refrigeration.
                    Last edited by rickgregory; December 7, 2021, 11:37 AM.


                    • Troutman
                      Troutman commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I have never covered my proteins. Wire rack in a 35*F garage fridge transformers things beautifully. Been doing it that way for years.

                    • rickgregory
                      rickgregory commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Troutman - yeah, I was mostly thinking of the single refrigerator setup when you have other food near/above/below the meat. Not a huge deal but a consideration perhaps.

                    I wonder if there are stackable racks available for this purpose? That would be cool, I could see a plastic tray under and a ventilated plastic cover over. Still need room in the fridge of course.

                    I'm going to google it.


                      Most of what I found didn't have enough space between the racks.

                      All right then, I googled for about 20 minutes and so far I think this is the best thing I have found:

                      Click image for larger version  Name:	Untitled.png Views:	0 Size:	342.4 KB ID:	1138866
                      What do you guys think? Or is there an easy DIY solution to a two-tier rack? I already have the lower one that fits right on a baking sheet.

                      Gonna go see if I can organize my fridge a little bit now.

                      Maybe overthinking this, in a pinch just putting them into a plastic bag would be so easy.

                      Last edited by zzdocxx; December 7, 2021, 04:21 PM.



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