There are two reasons I am very specific about the salt called for in this recipe. First, I want to use a salt that is 100 percent sodium chloride, without any additives such as calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent, or potassium iodide, a nutritional supplement, both of which I find detract from the salt’s flavor. Second, salts have widely varying densities; for example, 2/3 cup of Diamond Crystal salt weighs 3 ounces (85 grams) while 2/3 cup of Morton’s kosher salt weighs 5.25 ounces (149 grams), and the same volume of Morton’s table salt weighs 6.5 ounces (185 grams)—more than double the weight of the Diamond Crystal! As a result, a brine using table salt may be more than twice as salty as one using the same amount of Diamond Crystal. Now readily available in the spice section of most supermarkets and gourmet grocers, Diamond Crystal is packaged in a bright red box with black lettering. You can substitute any brand of salt, as long as it is pure sodium chloride and you use a weight of 3 ounces (irrespective of volume).
NotesThe easiest way to crush whole spices is to use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. If you do not have either of these kitchen tools, place the whole spices in a heavy lock-top plastic bag, seal the bag while pressing out all the air, and pound them with the bottom of a smelt or heavy saucepan until coarsely crushed.
The brine can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Type of Dishmarinades
- 2/3 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed (see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed (see Cook’s Note)
- 2 teaspoons whole allspice berries, crushed (see Notes)
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups hot water
- 4 cups ice water
In a large saucepan, stir together the salt, sugar, cloves, juniper berries, peppercorns, and allspice. Add the sage leaves, thyme, and bay leaves along with the hot water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the ice water and stir to cool the mixture. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Proceed with brining the turkey.
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