Kitchen Q&A

Don’t confuse brining with water-chilling chickens


The Charlotte Observer

Q: Someone told me that all poultry is brined before packaging. Is that correct? If it is, should I still brine the poultry before cooking?

A: Your source may have confused brining with water-chilling. In the poultry industry, chickens are chilled during processing. The cheapest and most efficient way to do that is with a cold-water bath. However, it also results in watery chicken that has less flavor.

There are other chickens on the market that are air-chilled instead, including most free-range chicken. They aren’t as watery, but they are more expensive.

Brining involves soaking meat in a saltwater solution. That does two things: It removes blood and impurities and it adds moisture and flavor.

Recipes that call for brining do it to make the chicken taste better. However, kosher chickens, such as Empire, have been brined to cleanse them, so if you buy a kosher chicken, you shouldn’t brine it or it may be too salty.

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