Brining is a method of food preparation where raw meat is soaked in a salty liquid prior to cooking. For many centuries, brining was used to preserve meat; but, with the advent of refrigeration, interest in brining switched to giving meat additional flavor, much as marinating does. The meats that are most often brined are those that tend to dry out when overcooked, such as chicken breast, pork chop and pork roasts.
To brine a pork roast, create a brining liquid and then immerse the raw roast in it for a period of time. The way this works is that the meat absorbs liquid and any seasonings added to it, making the meat moister when cooked and more flavorful throughout. Brining can be preferable to sauces because even the deep part of the roast absorbs the brining liquid and flavors.
Brining liquid can be based on water, but it’s possible to use other liquids, such as apple juice or wine, depending on what flavors are to be imparted to the meat. Enough liquid is needed to cover the roast completely while it’s brining. Usually about half a gallon to a gallon of liquid are enough.
Brining also involves adding salt to the liquid. The usual amount for preserving meat is three-quarters of a pound of salt per gallong of water, but the amount of salt can be reduced significantly if cooking is to be done shortly after the brining is finished. To avoid having the meat taste too salty, most people add sugar to the brine in equal amounts to the salt. Some people think it makes the pork taste too much like ham and don’t use sugar, but at least a small amount of sugar is recommended.
Other things put in the brine solution include spice-oriented vegetables such as garlic cloves, spices such as black pepper, and sauces such as tabasco or Worcestershire. Nearly anything that adds a desired flavor to the meat can be used. Since the brining solution is discarded prior to cooking, the flavor agents added to the solution need not be servable.
It may be necessary to boil the brining liquid prior to use, depending on the recipe. If that is done, the brining liquid should be cooled with ice cubes before the meat is put in.
Brining pork takes time. Once the pork is put into the brining liquid, the container should be covered and stored in either a cool place or the fridge for anywhere between a day and a half and two days. Brining the pork roast for too short a period of time may result in the cooked roast being dry if it is overcooked. Brining too long, however, may make the roast mushy and too salty.
One popular pork roast brining recipe is available here.