A Ministry of Christian Chefs International (CCI)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 2013


Brining is a technique that adds moisture to meats before they are cooked.
Bringing relies on DIFFUSION and OSMOSIS

DIFFUSION: A brine consists of water and salt. Soaking the meat in a brine, allows salt molecules to diffuse into the muscle cells, for diffusion seeks to balance the salt content inside and outside the muscle cells.

OSMOSIS: Water moves across cell membranes into the muscle cells, increasing the amount of water inside the muscle cells.

Salt reshapes the protein molecules in the meat, which allows the protein to hold on to the added water, even after the meat is cooked. Without water, the salt could not enter into the cells, wherefore a simple salt rub adds flavor, but not moisture.

If the concentration of salt in a brine is too HIGH, water will be drawn out of the meat instead of adding more water into the muscle cells. If it is too LOW, the movement of water will be very slow, and very little water will enter the cells.

When brining make sure the salt is fully dissolved into the water (or you will end up with a brine that has a low salt concentration), and that you have a big enough container to soak the meat in the brine.
The optional sugar found in many brining recipes adds flavor and aids in the browning of the meat.

How does it work?

Salt is made out of two ions, sodium and chloride, which are oppositely charged. Proteins, such as those in meat, are large molecules that contain a mosaic of charges, negative and positive. When proteins are placed in a solution containing salt, they readjust their shape to accommodate the opposing charges. This rearrangement of the protein molecules creates gaps that fill up with water. The salt dissolves some of the proteins, forming a gel capable of holding on to even more water. It reduces overall toughness, as the protein molecules are changed.


Salt does more than add flavor to foods. As with brining meats, adding the right amount of salt at the right time can make a big difference when scrambling eggs.

Salt your scrambled eggs before cooking, as salt added after scrambling can make them rubbery and firm, but added before makes them tender and moist.

Why is that?

Salt affects the electrical charge on the protein molecules in the eggs, reducing the tendency to bond. A weaker protein network means eggs are less likely to overcoagulate and will cook up tender, instead of tough.

There are many ways to use salt in cooking. What's your favorite?

Susanna Krizo