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WALKER,Michigan (WZZM) -- Cindy Krzykwa, the deli and bakery director with Forest Hills Foods visits the WZZM 13 studios Tuesday morning to talk turkey.

Americans will consume approximately 46 million turkeys during the Thanksgiving holiday. Cooks want to make sure their birds are juicy and delicious. With so many ways to prepare turkey,including deep frying, grilling, smoking or roasting... many are looking for some advice.

Krzykwa discusses all of that as well as brining, which has re-gained popularity in recent years.

Below are some of the recipes andtips she suggests:

• Cook Turkey from thawed state only
• They take 2-3 days to thaw refrigerated
• Dark shallow roasting pans cook faster than shiny metal pans and are better for even heat flow
• The lid is the most effective means for even cooking-not a foil tent lid
• Oven cooking bags accelerate cooking time
• Allow at least two inches of space all around between the roasting pan and the walls of the oven to ensure good heating circulation
• Must use a meat thermometer to ensure safe and accurate temperature
• If you are going to stuff the turkey, stuff just before it goes into the oven, no sooner.
• The internal temperature of the turkey needs to reach 165 degrees. If the bird is stuffed the internal temperature of the stuffing must reach 165 degrees, too.

Open Pan Method" NTF Roasting Guidelines for a Fresh or Thawed Turkey
Roast in a 325 degrees F Conventional Oven on the Lowest Oven Rack
Weight Unstuffed Turkey Stuffed Turkey
8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours
24 to 30 pounds 5 to 5 1/4 hours 5 1/4 to 6 1/4 hours

Brining is an age-old process of preserving and cooking food. Brined meat cooks faster and retains more moisture. Brining servesseveral purposes.

-It alters the chemical structure of proteins by breaking down some of the bonds that give proteins their shape.
-Salt denatures the meat proteins, causing them to unwind and form a matrix that traps water.
-This breakdown allows the salt, sugar and spices to permeate the flesh.

What is the difference between brining and marinating?
Brining involves salt and osmosis to exchange the fluid of the brine with the water inside the meat. Marinating uses acidity to break down the texture of the meat. You can actually do both if your marinade has salt in it.

What salt is best for brining?
This is a matter of personal preference. Here are a few tips:
• Table salt often has iodine and anti-caking agents added to the salt that can sometimes impart an undesirable flavor. If using table salt opt for one without iodine added.
• Sea salt and kosher salt weigh less than table salt and take up less volume in a measuring cup. So the following measuring equivalents are good rules of thumb for measuring salt
o Table salt 1 cup
o Morton sea salt 1 ½ cups
o Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (comparable to course sea salt granules) 2 cups.
• Sea salt is fine for brining but it is more expensive than table and kosher

What is the best salt-water-sugar ratio for brining?
For every one quart of cool water use ½ cup salt and ½ cup sugar.

Does low-salt brining work?
No. While food brined in half-strength solutions are less salty, the moisture content does not improve.

Proper container
Any food-grade plastic or glass container will do. The key is making sure the meat will submerge completely in the solution in the container you choose.

You must refrigerate!
The food danger zone is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Food kept within this temperature range is a breeding ground for bacteria!

Dissolving the solution
The salt and sugars need to dissolve in water in order for the brine to be effective. Bring the water to a boil and add the salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Not all of the water needs to be boiled, though. If you are using 1 quart of water, only heat about 2 cups of the water. (Note: there are 4 cups in a quart and 4 quarts in a gallon)

IMPORTANT
Brining solution must be completely cooled before adding any meat! I cannot stress how important it is. Putting meat in lukewarm water is putting it in the temperature danger zone. In addition, it may begin to cook the meat, turn it gray and inhibit the brining process.

Can I reuse brine?
No.

Brining Times
A good rule of thumb for brining poultry is about 2 hours per pound.
For pork, it takes about twice as long, closer to 4 hours per pound.
Seafood takes little time to brine, no more than 30 minutes, regardless of the poundage.

Whole Chicken (4-5 lbs) 8-12 hrs
Chicken Pieces 1-2 hrs
Whole Turkey (about 2 hours per pound) 12 hrs-2 days
Turkey Breast 4-8 hrs
Shrimp 30 minutes
Pork Chops 2-6 hrs
Pork Tenderloin 2-8 hrs
Whole Pork Loin 12-24 hours

Does brined meat cook faster?
Yes. The additional water in the meat conducts heat better and the altered proteins are partially "cooked" leaving less work for the heat.

Is beef okay to brine?
Yes, it is okay to brine beef but I don't recommend it. Beef tends to have enough fat in it that it does not need assistance in retaining moisture.

Basic Brine Recipe

For every quart of water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)

Bring water to a boil.
Remove water from heat.
Add salt and sugar and stir until dissolved.
Cool solution completely before brining. meat.

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