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FRESH In: Ready-made Brines

I wish everybody brined. It’s such a simple technique, and it has such a payoff: Used properly, a brine adds depth of flavor, makes meat moist and flavorful, and helps keep you from overcooking.

And it’s just as simple as using a marinade. For most cuts, you simply soak the meat for a few hours in a salted, flavored water solution. The solution helps infuse meats with flavor and also helps it retain water during cooking, so it both cooks more quickly and remains juicy. And unlike many marinades, which can depend on oils for flavor, brine solutions are water-based, so brining is a naturally lower-fat way to cook.

But even cooks who know how much brine can bring to a leg of lamb, turkey, roast, pork butt or brisket sometimes don’t want to bother with prepping their own brine solution. So I like to recommend the barbecue bath brines from Sweetwater Spice Company.

This company specializes in ready-made, concentrated brine solutions. They’ve already figured out the science of how much salt and how much spice you need; you just need to add water and let the meat of your choice soak up the flavor prior to cooking. Plus, the Austin-based company has developed flavorful brines that are customized to Texan palates, with flavors like apple chipotle and lime jalapeno. Great for grilling or barbecue, they’ll also work beautifully for roasting or braising, with just about any cut of meat you desire. You’ll find them in Aisle 4 in grocery, with the grilling sauces and marinades.