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ne:Smoking and Brine Questions

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We were planning on smoking our turkey this year but the weather is making me think twice....I have a gas smoker and I am wondering if it is worth the effort given the weather forecast (teens, windy, snow)? Anyone ever tried running a basic cabinet smoker in that kind of weather? Was thinking of putting it on our deck so I can watch the temp from inside the house but how tough is it to keep temp steady in those conditions?...We've got a 12 pound turkey so will take at least 6 hours I'm thinking.

Brine: almost all the recipes call for sugar - has anyone ever used a sugar substitute like Sweet-n-Low instead? Does that work? My wife is allergic to sugar so we have to keep it at absolute minimum if at all.

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You don't have to use any sugar. If you want it sweat then I'd stay with something pure and natural because you could pickup an off flavor. Same reason for not using iodized salt. Honey will work for sure.

For turkey inject the brine, its too big to soak and would spoil long before it became brinned.

A gas smoker should be able to get the heat up. If it doesn't wrap an old blanket around it. Just leave the vent open.

If it were an electric aluminum box type then it won't get up to temp.

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You can smoke in any temp, but you will want to get out of the wind as much as possible. It will take more heat (more gas) to keep a temp, but it is completely possible. Also, brining a whole turkey is VERY do-able, and I have personally used a plastic brining-specific bag that is easily purchased in the ziploc bag area of a grocery store. Look for them, they are there. The key it to make sure you have the whole bird covered in your chosen brine recipe. You will also need to keep the bagged turkey in a fridge, and kept below 40 degrees the entire time without freezing. Very important. Also, if you use a bag, flip the bird every couple hours in your 24-hour-brine-time to ensure complete coverage.

Another way to go about it is to use a food safe bucket. Most NEW clean 5 gallon buckets will do, but it's up to you to attempt to reuse another bucket; I wouldn't recommend it myself. You will also end up with a lot of leftover brine for the drain, though, as you need enough to completely submerge the bird. You also need to have a fridge with enough room to hold the whole bucket inside.

For both techniques, you can also inject brine if you wnat to shorten your brine-time. You can easily do a no-sugar recipe if you'd like. The sugar does help to offset the salt in a brine, though. If you look around enough, you will find all kinds of info on brining methods, recipes, and techniques. Good Luck, and post some pix!

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i am doing my first brine. for some reason my wife raised an eye when i brought in my 5 gal bucket that i drain oil in. i told her that i would clean it and run thru dishwasher so now i have two. Sounds pretty easy biggest thing is weighting the bird down to keep in submerged the whole time. I think i will use dinner plates. but not smoking just roasting in the oven. have a great holiday to all and good luck.

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Thanks everyone for the responses - will probably go for it if the wind cooperates with the location of the smoker on the deck as I am not about to stay outside and watch the temp in those conditions.

Honey is out for the brine but may go ahead and try the artificial sweetener and see what the results are....I used the XL ziplocs in the past and a huge pot I use for chili. We stored it in the fridge during the brining process.

Have a great turkey day all!

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for some reason my wife raised an eye when i brought in my 5 gal bucket that i drain oil in.

You have a very trusting wife. Had I tried that, it would have been much more than an eyebrow being raised! As in, the level of her voice if she caught that I wanted to use something like that for food prep!

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You should put the turkey in the smoker anyways and after a couple of hours if it isn't holding the temp put it in the oven. Your house will smell great, the turkey will turn golden brown like a Norman Rockwell painting and you will be able to taste the smoke flavor. I have put my turkey in the smoker for just a couple of hours even without brine and finished it the oven, always has turned out real good.

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as noted, she raised the eyebrow but i was told to buy a new bucket and she went with me to ensure that i did. not many times she will go into ace hardware usually will sit in the truck this time she made sure i got a new one. oh well put it in the brine this am so hopefully it will taste great.

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If smoking, I HIGHLY recommend that a curing agent be used. This helps prevent against bacteria that can thrive at smoking temps.

If the cure (I like to use a brine cure) is omitted, just make sure the temps get hot enough internally to kill any bacteria. (170-180ish)

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If smoking, I HIGHLY recommend that a curing agent be used. This helps prevent against bacteria that can thrive at smoking temps.

If the cure (I like to use a brine cure) is omitted, just make sure the temps get hot enough internally to kill any bacteria. (170-180ish)

I believe the bacteria are all killed at 140 which is why that is the bottom of the food safety temperature range. That includes parasites like trichonosis. I figure 160 just to cover my bases but 180 makes for dry white meat on a turkey.

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Both of you are on the right track when you mentioned using a curing agent and taking the meat to the proper temperature. The other consideration is time, or length of time the meat spends at certain temperatures.

The reason for using a curing agent is because low smoking temps over time are a perfect breeding ground for baddies. The rule called 40/140/4 refers to food in the 40 degree to 140 degree window for no more than 4 hours. The use of a curing agent allows cooks to go beyond that rule.

There is a safe "finished temperature" for all smoked things, and poultry is safe to eat once it reaches 160 degrees.

The best advice, is to follow a proven procedure, with respect to cure, cure (brine) time, as well smoker temperature and time.

Outside of food safety, I sometimes use a curing agent for other benefits. They will give meat that nice pink color, the texture will firm up, and for flavor.

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