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Cooking glossary

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Brine

A solution of water and salt and flavourings such as sugar, spices and herbs in which food is completely immersed. Vegetables for preserves such as pickled onions and piccalilli are steeped in a basic salt and water brine prior to pickling in order to remove excess water. Meat can also be soaked in brine prior to cooking to help add flavour and juiciness to the meat. Traditionally used for preserving meat rather than adding flavour brining is becoming increasingly popular both in restaurants and with home cooks. During the soaking period (which can be up anything from 30 minutes to 5 days, depending on the thickness and type of meat) the meat absorbs the soaking liquid and any flavouring from the brine. The finished result is meat that is well-seasoned and deliciously moist. Popular flavourings to add to brine for soaking meat include onion, peppercorns, bay leaves, woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme, ginger, cloves or cinnamon.