Salting Vs. Brining; How Are These Cooking Techniques Different?
Image Credit: From A Chef's Kitchen

Salt is a fundamental seasoning used in cooking, that enhances the natural flavours of ingredients, balances sweetness and can also suppress bitterness in some. Used in a number of other applications like salt baking, brining and to draw out moisture from ingredients, salt is a great way to optimize and harmonise flavours. Although both – salting and brining might come across as very similar at first, a few key nuances differentiate the two and give them their distinctive purposes when a recipe calls for either of them.


Image Credits: Tasting Table

The salting technique is not only about making food salty but also about adding salt to raw ingredients before they are cooked. For example, seasoning a piece of meat or vegetables with salt before grilling, roasting or sautéing or seasoning a recipe during the process of cooking it. While the primary purpose of salting is to season and enhance flavours of food, it can also help with moisture retention to some extent without being specifically designed for tenderization. Typically, salting involves the application of salt directly to the surface of the food or incorporating salt into a recipe during cooking – either immediately or later, making it a shorter process than brining. Although salting does tend to have a mild tenderizing effect on food, the duration for which the technique is applied, makes it redundant in a way where food might need additional factors to cook to a desired point.

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Dry Brine vs. Wet Brine: Key Characteristics And Differences


A cooking technique that involves soaking meat, poultry or fish in a solution of salt, water, sugar and seasonings before cooking, brining – both, dry and wet – involves either sprinkling salt or submerging ingredients in a solution before it is cooked. While dry allows food to sit for a set period before cooking, wet brining usually lets ingredients rest and retain their moisture during the course of cooking. In the dry brining method, the salt draws out moisture from the meat, dissolves into the liquid and gets reabsorbed – thus enhancing the meat’s flavour and tenderness. In a wet brine, the salt in the brine is particularly beneficial for lean meats that have a tendency to easily dry out during cooking.

This cooking process helps tenderize tougher cuts of meat in a way that the solution breaks down some of the muscle fibres. When ingredients are brined for a specific amount of time, the salt must be rinsed off of its surface, unlike the former where it is important to retain seasoning. Compared to salting, brining also requires a longer soaking time of several hours or even overnight, depending on the size and type of meat. This technique is also specifically designed to tenderize meat or other tough ingredients, which might need some sort of prep before it is actually cooked using some kind of a heat application.