The Truth About Salt In Your Food

It's everywhere. And we're supposed to eat less of it. By: Sidney Fry, MS, RD

Does a longer brine add much salt?
Photo: Randy Mayor

Does a longer brine add much salt?

Naturally lean meats, like turkey and pork, benefit from a brine. We wondered if sodium goes up with time, and if so, how much.

THE TEST: We soaked three 12-pound turkeys in a brining solution that contained ½ cup of kosher salt (that's about 46,000mg sodium!) for 12, 18, and 24 hours. For comparison, we also analyzed an unbrined bird.

THE RESULTS: (per 4 ounces roasted turkey) No brine: white meat, 55mg; dark meat, 90mg; 12-hour brine: white meat, 151mg; dark meat, 235mg; 18-hour brine: white meat, 186mg; dark meat, 254mg; 24-hour brine: white meat, 223mg; dark meat, 260mg

The largest sodium increase happens in the first 12 hours. It then tapers off, but the tenderizing continues. Only about 1% of the total sodium from the brine is absorbed. Bottom line: If you like a longer brine (we prefer 24 hours), the added sodium isn't that significant. Brine for texture reasons, and put away sodium fears.

Kosher turkeys may have 200mg per 4 ounces due to the processing method. Frozen turkeys may have been washed in salt water to speed the freezing, adding 200 to 350mg per 4 ounces. And some birds are enhanced with up to 15% broth, which adds 330 to 440mg per 4 ounces. Check your labels.



More Ways To Get Cooking Light



JavaScript must be enabled to use this Calendar module.

25 Best Vegetarian

Whether you have made the full vegetarian plunge or just want to mix it up, sans the meat, once a week, these healthy, meatless main dishes will have you swooning.

Fontal Polenta with Mushroom Sauté