Is It Safe To Reuse Brine?

Are you wondering if it’s safe to reuse your salmon brine for a next-day second batch of salmon? In other words, you’re wondering if you can brine, then smoke your fully loaded Bradley, then do the whole process over again immediately using the same brine? Well, the answer is:

No, It Is Not Safe to Reuse the Brine

The majority of food-born bacteria live on the outer coating of the meat. Your brine will be swimming with it – literally. It is not safe to reuse the brine! Discard the brine solution after use. The brine will contain proteins, blood, and other stuff from the meat that soaked in it. From a food safety standpoint, it is not advisable to reuse brine, even if it is boiled first.

You should dump it down the drain after its first use. Besides being unsafe, the salinity (concentration of salt) of the brine has been lowered, and other flavoring have weakened.

Removing the safety issue, your brine won’t have the same amount of ingredients since the first bird absorbed quite a bit of them. Reusing brine is bad practice from both a safety and flavor standpoint.

To make it short and simple, due to the action of osmosis – the movement of water with a high concentration of salt (brine) to where the salt concentration is lower (meat cells). Depending on how long you brine, this process will continue until the concentration of salt is equal in both the brine and the cells. Lowering the salinity also can encourages bacterial growth.

Pro Tip: Here is our expert guide on brining and curing for a more in-depth read on these essential food smoking processes.

Can The Brine Be Used For A Second Time With The Same Food Type?

Food Safety 101 – Don’t ever reuse a brine once it’s had food in it. I’m sure the food scientists out there can tell us how and when and why you might be able to, but I don’t recommend doing it. The whole issue is cross-contamination, do you want to get food poisoning? Nope, not me.

What Do I Do If I Still Want To Re-Use The Brine?

Making a brine can be time consuming when you have a lot to get brined. However, the ingredients for brines are inexpensive. If you need to save on the cost of the brine you have to make, do this. It is a safe and fast way you can determine how much brine you actually need. Weigh the fish you are going to brine, place it in a container and add water to cover it by one inch. Remove the fish and measure the water (1 pint = 1 pound; 1 quart = 2 pound; 1 gallon = 8 pounds etc). If the water weighs at least 50% of the weight of the fish, that is all you need, if it doesn’t add more water. Then you just scale the recipe proportionally to the amount of water are using.

For more great ideas on how to get the most of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.