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This all-purpose pork brine is the secret to cooking the juiciest chops imaginable. Made with bright citrus, pepper, vinegar, brown sugar, and refreshing herbs, it leaves the meat literally dripping with flavor.
A great pork brine makes all the difference when preparing fresh chops. It overloads the meat with moisture and keeps it incredibly juicy. Though not a marinade, it also works to infuse the meat with whatever delicious herbs and seasonings you add to the mix.
Throwing together a delicious pork chop brine isn’t difficult – it takes just 15 minutes to prepare. After that, you must patiently wait 4 to 8 hours (overnight) for the meat to absorb all of that flavor and moisture. Whether you’re baking, grilling, or frying, the right brine will take your dish to the next level.
What does a pork brine do?
Without getting too scientific, the brining process works to change the protein itself, allowing it to retain as much moisture as possible. And when you add flavorings and spices, those work their way into the meat, seasoning it from the inside out.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Salt – The key to making this whole process work! I recommend using kosher salt.
- Brown Sugar – Always add a sweetener to make sure the mixture isn’t too salty. Honey, molasses, or regular white sugar can be used instead, if needed.
- Coriander Seeds – Sweet and aromatic, these infuse the liquid with flavor and helps season the meat. The slight citrus flavor works really well with the lemon and lime juice! You can use cumin as a substitute.
- Mixed Peppercorns – Green, white, red, and black – each pepper has its own flavor profile.
- Mustard Powder – Very sharp and tangy, this infuses the saltwater with heat. If you prefer to substitute prepared mustard, use 3 tablespoons for the same level of heat.
- Bay Leaves – This herb is somewhat bitter and heightens the aroma of soups, stews, and sauces.
- Lemon & Lime Juice – These work together to add a lovely, bright citrus note to the brining liquid.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Vinegar helps to both tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. White wine vinegar is a good substitute.
- Ice Cubes – To speed up the cooling process.
- Pork Chops – Use a cut of boneless, loin end chops with the excess fat removed.
HOW TO MAKE PORK BRINE
1. Mix the Dry Ingredients. Combine the salt, brown sugar, coriander, peppercorns, mustard powder, and bay leaves in your brining bowl or container.
2. Heat the Citrus and Vinegar. Bring the citrus juice and vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan on the stove. Alternatively, you can microwave for 2 minutes.
3. Combine the Wet and Dry. Combine the vinegar mixture with the spices and mix until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the ice cubes and stir until the ice is almost completely melted.
4. Begin Brining. Submerge the meat in the pork chop brine. Then, cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
5. Prepare to Grill. Rinse off the brining liquid and score each chop on both sides. Then grill or bake as you like!
Can I brine pork chops for too long?
Yes – you generally do not want to leave them brining for longer than 24 hours. Otherwise, they will become too salty and have an unpleasant texture.
If you’re not ready to cook the meat within the 4 to 8 hours, then remove it from the liquid and freeze, which will stop the brining process.
Does using a pork chop brine make the meat salty?
No, it won’t become salty unless you allow it to sit for too long. The brown sugar in the liquid helps to combat excessive saltiness.
Can I reuse a brine?
Do not reuse brining liquid. It just spent hours soaking into raw meat, so discard after it is used.
Can I prepare pork brine ahead of time?
You sure can! When you add herbs to the brining liquid, it will last for up to a week in the fridge.
All-Purpose Pork Brine
- In a bowl or container mix the kosher salt, brown sugar, coriander seeds, peppercorns, mustard powder and bay leaves.
- Juice the citrus and and mix with the vinegar. Heat for 2 minutes in a microwave or on the stove top until it begins to simmer. Add the vinegar citrus mixture to the spices and swirl to dissolve salt and sugar. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add ice cubes and stir to melt most of the ice.
- Add pork, making sure to cover with brine. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours (overnight).
- When ready to grill, rinse the pork chops, score each side slightly and grill as you like to desired doneness.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.