Brining

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In cooking, brining is a process in which meat is soaked in a salt solution (the brine) before cooking. The brine may contain other flavorings or preservative. As opposed to pickling, brining does not always involve fermentation.

Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt ions than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to enter the cell via diffusion. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix which traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from drying out, or dehydrating.