Author Topic: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine  (Read 443 times)

Offline FuBar

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Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« on: September 18, 2019, 05:12:34 pm »
Hi folks, I've only done a wet Brine years ago and am wondering what are the main differences (besides the obvious) between the wet and dry brine?

Will the wet brine produce a product that is more moist? Does it also ensure more even coverage since all the salmon pieces will be submerged?

Obviously this is a preference thing, but wondering what you guys think?

Thank you and happy smoking!

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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2019, 03:07:27 am »
As you stated it is a preference. For myself, the differences vary whether you are brining fish, meat or poultry. I use wet brines mainly for fish, and poultry; though I'm looking into dry brining my next turkey - if I can get one that is not already brined. But now I recently read an article in Cook's Illustrated, that indicates that poultry that is processed by a water bath to chill it, may not benefit from wet brining. The results of their testing showed that the poultry did not gain any additional weight after brining. But the article stopped there and didn't check to see if there was an exchange of salt. The conclusion was to only purchase air chilled poultry, or dry brine a water bath chilled poultry. But I digress.

Since there are so many variable, on the type of meat, the thickness and what you are looking for in the final product, the following is for fish only. In general wet brining is faster, no matter what is being brined. I feel that a wet brined product is more moist, but the texture will be softer. Since a brine solution is balanced, it brines all sides evenly. The down side is that wet brining generally requires more refrigerator space.

If you dry brine salmon, you will get a firmer texture.


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Offline dubob

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2019, 07:25:42 am »
The only thing I brine for smoking is fish.  I've been a wet brine user for about 30 years and find it works for me.  A friend of mine uses nothing but dry brine for smoking his fish and produces very good products.  I tried his method last year and didn't care for it.  I think my wet brine produces a better product for me.  As stated above, it really is a personal preference.
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I’m 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” ― Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Dr. Seuss

Offline FuBar

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2019, 07:24:54 pm »
Thank you both for your insight. I've got a dry brined batch in the smoker now but will try wet brine next round. Cheers!

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Offline Freedom

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2019, 07:46:32 am »
For my fish I do a rock salt and brown sugar rub. Within one hour becomes a wet brine. And at that point it needs to be removed from the brine or it can become too salty. I use 2 cups of brown sugar  and 1/2 a cup of rock salt

Offline FuBar

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2019, 07:47:50 pm »
For my fish I do a rock salt and brown sugar rub. Within one hour becomes a wet brine. And at that point it needs to be removed from the brine or it can become too salty. I use 2 cups of brown sugar  and 1/2 a cup of rock salt

Thanks for your reply! So you only dry brine for an hour? Wow, that seems very quick. It seems most people doing the dry brine do so for at least 6 or 8 hours with many going overnight. Im wondering how the texture is on some fish that has been dry brined for 1 hour vs say 8 hours?? I use the same ratio salt:sugar as you and I use coarse salt. I did a bath a few days ago and brushed it with honey a couple hours before it was done. My girlfriend who normally only eats a tiny amount because of the saltiness couldn't stop eating the stuff with honey brushed on it. 

Im curious if others on the forum only dry brine for about an hour??

Offline Edward176

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2019, 10:40:30 am »
I've use a dry brine for my salmon at a ratio of 4:1 Brown sugar to Salt. I  use kosher salt and regular store purchased brown sugar. Combine together and mix well. I cut my salmon fillets into hand size pieces and layer in plastic resealable plastic container. I average 2-3 layers in container and normally leave in brine overnight, sometimes 16+ hours. Rinse under cold running water, and sometimes let soak in cold water for 10-15 minutes. Pat dry and air dry on my inverted Bradley racks. You can even have a fan blow air over the salmon till a pellicle forms. Preheat smoker to 150°F and smoke for 90 minutes. Remove and glaze with Apricot jam, or Apricot-passion fruit jam (heated in microwave to liquefy) and continue smoking for another 30 minutes. (2 hours total time).
This recipe has turned out perfect every time and for me it tastes the best after cooling in the fridge for a day or more.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 11:20:54 am by Edward176 »

Offline FuBar

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2019, 03:48:14 pm »


Preheat smoker to 150°F and smoke for 90 minutes. Remove and glaze with Apricot jam, or Apricot-passion fruit jam (heated in microwave to liquefy) and continue smoking for another 30 minutes. (2 hours total time).
This recipe has turned out perfect every time and for me it tastes the best after cooling in the fridge for a day or more.

Interesting on your times @Edward176, thanks for sharing. How thick are your fillets usually? And have you ever checked the internal temp of the salmon once it's done?

I basically brine the same as you but then start the fish off around 120 for a couple hours then bump it up to around 140 for a few hours, then bump up to 160 or so and start checking the fish temp. I usually like to pull when the fish is around 130, but a few days ago I got busy and ended up pulling around 150. The fish still tested great, just a tad dryer than I wanted.

I'm curious if at 2 hours at 150, does your salmon stay moist or is it starting to get dryer? I like the idea of a shorter smoke at times so I'm give your method a go next round.

Thanks for your input!

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Offline watchdog56

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2019, 05:22:25 am »
I am curious,why leave the skin on?

Offline dubob

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2019, 07:11:00 am »
I am curious,why leave the skin on?
I can only speak for myself.  I leave the skin on because the meat of smoked fish becomes very flaky and is difficult to remove from the smoking device without falling apart if the skin is removed.  Leaving the skin on prevents this from happening and makes handling the fillets or pieces/chunks simple and straight forward.  I've tried a couple times in the past to remove the skin to brine and smoke and was dissatisfied with the fillets falling apart after smoking.  Even used the non-stick foil in the smoker.  It still just falls apart when handling it.
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I’m 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” ― Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Dr. Seuss

Offline Edward176

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2019, 12:26:15 pm »
The salmon I buy is skinless, normally the fillets are around 2 lbs and I cut them into about 6 pieces, roughly the thickness and size of my hand (excluding thumb). After the 2 hours of smoking at 150°F the meat is moist and NOT dried out. I have smoked longer almost 2 1/2 hours but found the thinner pieces dry and stringy. I guess its a matter of preference and taste. Everyone here likes their salmon moist, and it'll flake after a day or 2 in the fridge. It's not overly sweet like some that I've tasted like candied salmon, but just the right amount of sweetness from the apricot jam. I found that honey and other jams are too sweet. I also spray my racks before smoking and the salmon slides off and doesn't fall apart, its just the right firmness.   
I also noticed that when you use too high of heat the salmon will develop a white liquid residue on the surface, this is the oils rendering out of the salmon, and this (in my opinion) is what makes the meat dry and stringy -- its overcooked. At 150°f that doesn't happen, the oils remain in the meat and this is what keeps it moist, tasty and flaky.     
« Last Edit: September 25, 2019, 03:30:56 pm by Edward176 »

Offline FuBar

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2019, 08:34:04 pm »

though I'm looking into dry brining my next turkey


Thanks for your reply @habanero smoker, good input as usual! I tried dry brining a turkey a couple years ago after reading Kenji's article on it. I was impressed and it was quite easy.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/quick-and-dirty-guide-to-brining-turkey-chicken-thanksgiving.html

Offline FuBar

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2019, 08:40:57 pm »
I am curious,why leave the skin on?

I leave the skin on because....that's the way my dad did it:)  We've been smoking wild salmon we caught off the coast of BC for 40 years and my dad always left the skin on when smoking it. I use a dry brine and it always comes out great and I feel adds a bit of protection to the meat.  And as another mentioned, I feel it keeps the salmon together a bit better. But skin or no skin, Im still devouring it!

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Wet Brine vs Dry Brine
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2019, 03:21:01 am »
FuBar;

Thanks for the link. I use that site a lot and have J. Kenji López-Alt's book "The Food Lab". That is one of the recipes I'm looking at for using to dry brine. I will use his basic technique, but also incorporate some of the ideas form this recipe Dry Brine Turkey . Her recipe breaks down the amount of salt to use, and uses aromatics. I use that site often.

Now the only thing I have to find is a minimally processed turkey, or order a fresh and/or heritage turkey.


     I
         don't
                   inhale.
  ::)