Favorite Pork Chop Brine

Favorite Pork Chop Brine

Do you guys brine your pork chops? If you don’t I highly recommend you give it a shot and this Favorite Pork Chop Brine is a great one to start with. With very little effort and just a little planning, you can take today’s leaner (and sometimes drier) pork chops and help nudge them towards something more succulent and juicy by brining. You’ll still need to be careful not to overcook that pork, but brining is a game-changer.

Favorite Pork Chop Brine

1) Add the sugar, salt and herbs/spices to a bowl.


 

I’m always amazed at how well a brine (soaking meat in a salty solution) works on pork chops, and especially amazed at how just a short amount of time (as little as 15 to 20 minutes) can make a difference. A little longer, though, is always better. Two hours works very well, and three to four hours is pretty much ideal. Chops can be brined for up to 12 to 24 hours, but don’t brine longer. Your pork can get overly salty and in some cases may deteriorate. No one wants that.

About My Favorite Pork Chop Brine:

I love this brine with almost any pork chop I make. It’s flavorful but a kind of complementary yet still kind of neutral flavorful if that makes sense. There’s the salt, of course, which works its magic by making the meat moist. According to Cook’s Illustrated (Love those guys!) “Brining promotes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle. The salt causes protein strands to become denatured, or unwound…when protein strands unwind, they get tangled up with one another, forming a matrix that traps water.”

And the liquid in this brine is half apple juice and half water. Because you can’t go wrong with pork and apple. Sometimes, depending on what kind of dish I am making, I might leave out the apple juice and go with straight water or add another liquid altogether.

Then for the flavorings (beyond the apple juice), there is the sugar, which is usually brown sugar in my brine, because it enhances the flavors and promotes color when browning; I might shake things up a bit and use cane sugar, molasses or sorghum, instead. And for the herbs/spices, I think you can’t go wrong with a few peppercorns, and they are in almost every brine I make, along with a touch of thyme or marjoram. I might vary those flavorings, too, if I’m going for a more specific flavor.

Favorite Pork Chop Brine

2) Add a portion of hot water to dissolve the salt and sugar.

Making My Favorite Pork Chop Brine:

Brines are super easy to make. You just mix the ingredients together. I do like to dissolve the salt first in a little hot water, which is a small portion of the liquid I am using because the salt needs to dissolve and then I can add the rest of the cool or room temperature liquids to the dissolved salt solution. That’s so I won’t have to wait around forever for that brine to cool or add ice like I would if all the liquid were heated. And for food safety reasons, you don’t want to add your pork to a warm or hot brine.

Usually, for pork chops, I don’t use a lot of brine because I add the chops to a Ziploc, after placing the Ziploc in a container to hold it upright. Then the whole works goes in the fridge in that container just in case there is a leak. I didn’t show that part in the pics. Once the air is pushed out of the Ziploc, it does a great job of surrounding the chops with brine. If you’re around, it never hurts to open the fridge and quickly turn around the Ziploc just to redistribute the brine now and then.

As far as the salt, a five to six percent of salt to liquid is the standard, but if you’re measuring dry, rather than by weight (and most of us probably are) you’ll want about a tablespoon of kosher salt per cup of liquid. Different kinds of salt, table salt, kosher salt, sea salt & Himalayan all have different size crystals so the measurements can vary, but usually, you’ll use about 2/3rds the amount of a fine salt as you would a kosher salt.

Sea salt and Himalayan, in particular, are going to be variable because there is no standard for the size of the crystals or flakes. You’ll have to use your best judgment. If it’s fine, use the measurement for table salt; if it’s large crystals or flakes, use the measurements for kosher salt.

Favorite Pork Chop Brine

3) Sir till dissolved

Cooking the Brined Pork Chops:

For the most part, you’ll cook your brined pork chops as normal, but do be sure to pat them dry after they come out of the brine. It’s not the most fun thing in the world, patting those slippery, cold wet chop dry, but it means your pork will cook, not steam in the pan or on the grill.

Brining works wonders on pressure cooker pork chop recipes, too. I brine the pork chops in my Instant Pot Pork Chop One-Pot Dinner. I also brine these traditionally cooked or grilled Apple Glazed Stuffed Pork Chops (please forgive those photos) with this brine and I brine several other pork chop recipes on my site. You can use the search bar and enter “brine” or click on the tag towards the bottom of the page for more recipes and you’ll find beyond pork, I brine all kinds of things; anything from pork to chicken to pickles, to potato chips and more.

Favorite Pork Chop Brine

6) Poor room temperature or cooled liquid over.

Print

My Favorite Pork Chop Brine

Favorite Pork Chop Brine

A good basic brine for pork, easy to vary or riff off.

  • Author: mollie
  • Total Time: varies
  • Yield: 4 cups brine 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cold water (or 1/2 water and 1/2 apple juice)
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons fine or table salt
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 6 peppercorns
  • several sprigs of dried thyme (about a teaspoon dried leaves)

Instructions

In a non-reactive bowl, add the sugar, peppercorns and thyme. Heat one cup about 2/3 cup of the liquid to very warm, pour over the ingedients in the bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the remainder of the cool to room temperature liquid. Place pork chops in a ziploc bag and place the Ziploc bag in another container (to hold it upright and to control any possible leakage when it is refrigerated.) Once the salt mixture is cool, pour over the pork in the Ziploc. Squeeze to remove as much air as possible.

Refrigerate for at least 15 to 20 minutes, 2 to 4 hours if possible and up to 12 hours if thinner pork chops and up to 24 hours if thick.

Drain and pat pork dry before using.

Recipe may be increased; it is likely you will not need to use an exact proportion of the herbs or peppercorns, even with more brine; just increase those items by a bit.

Keywords: brine, pork

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I’ll be sharing My Favorite Pork Chop Brine at Fiesta Frida 301, hosted this week by this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Angie, herself.

A brine for your chops, like this Favorite Pork Chop Brine, is going to help keep today's leaner pork succulent and moist. It's a game-changer. As little as 15 to 20 minutes can make a difference, but of course, a couple of hours is better! #PorkChopBrine #BrineForPork #Brine

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15 thoughts on “Favorite Pork Chop Brine

  1. this is great. We don’t make a lot of pork chops, but I will brine a pork loin. I also love using apple juice or cider. I love the simplicity of thyme and peppercorns.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks Mimi! My Thyme was looking a bit shabby by this time! I just brought in this year’s from the garden about a week or so ago.

  2. Lol! Hope he doesn’t get sick to his stomach. It’s a very good cleanser but a bit harsh on the tummy. It is also excellent for rinsing your hair in the shower. Gets rid of product buildup and makes your hair super shiny, if you don’t mind smelling like a salad for a few hours. 😄🥗

    • FrugalHausfrau

      This is a kid who figured out to open the fridge door b/4 he was 2 and ate sticks of butter, ate countless blocks of cheese – I’d find the wrappers under his bed, and drowns everything in hot sauce. B/4 I was comfortable using names on my site I just referred to him as “the gluttonous one.” I used to use Vinegar on my hair back in the 70’s – I had forgotten! I love the smell of vinegar…I think I associate it with Easter Eggs!!

      That reminds me of the time he came running back from the bathroom while we were making Easter Eggs and said Mom, there’s water everywhere. Sure enough the bathroom was flooded all the way down the hall. He had flushed a hard boiled egg and it lodged in the “neck” part of the toilet. I hadn’t caught on yet, but it wouldn’t plunge, the plumber couldn’t get a snake through, turns out the egg was lodged so tightly the surface tension wouldn’t let it be broken! The whole toilet had to come out. I won’t tell you about the time he decided to vacuum up bees or woke me when he wanted milk in the middle of the night but had carried in the open container of milk and a glass and placed them on my back b/4 he shook me awake, or about when he went camping with his Dad and discovered he could pee outside and I got reports from the whole neighborhood…I could go on and on…

      The fun never ends with that kid!

  3. Bringing changed my life. I love your method, Mollie. Mine involves 3 cups of water, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 4 teaspoons of sea salt, a generous sprinkle of granulated garlic, and lots of black pepper. I brine chops or chicken breasts for at least 24 hours in that mix and they are perfect. Excellent post!

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