Brining...wet, dry, or not to try...oh my!

It's almost Thanksgiving and the number one question I receive about fresh turkeys is: "Should I brine my turkey?" I'm going to start off saying,  "I don't brine my meat." Maybe I'm lazy or I like to taste the true flavor of the turkey, without the salt juice. I do have some experience with brining. I have done both wet and dry brining and learned what I like and don't like. Here's what I have learned. 

Brining Basics

  1. Wet brine - soaking lean meat into a salted solution over an extended period of time. Salt solutions is by weight usually 5-8% salt to liquid (water). The meat will absorb some of the liquid from the solution and that moisture will stay in the lean meat even after it's been cooked. 30-40% moisture is retained. 
    • How it works: Wet brine is not osmosis (a liquid that move across a membrane from a lower solute concentration to a high concentration trying to create a balance). The salt in the solution helps to stop the shrinkage of the lean meat by breaking down the muscle protein. This loosens the muscle fiber and keeps them from contacting so much during cooking. 
    • Problems:  Wet brining requires a large pot, cooler, five gallon bucket to fully submerge a turkey in the brine. Keeping such a large vessel cool for 12-24 hours can be a challenge. The moisture that you taste in the meat is actual water from the solution and not the natural meats juices, it loses flavor. 
    • Texture:  Plump, moist, watery juice, and spongy
  2. Dry Brine - Pre-salting is just plain old salting a lean mean without the liquid solution.
    • How it works: This is actual osmosis working. The lean meat is salted, the salt absorbs the juice of the meat into a concentrated brine, loosening the muscle fibers allowing the lean meat to reabsorb the juices and a bit of salt.
    • Problems: The lean meat can be over cooked and needs to be watched a bit closer. The meat can be over salted and become not so edible. A pink color can happen in the meat because extended salting leads to curing meat. This could be a visual problem for some.
    • Texture: Plump, slightly less moist, natural juices with enhanced flavor, and denser.

Flavored Wet Brining

Broth, cider, orange juice, apple cider vinegar...this will give the brine more flavor, nope, not much. I'll explain.

  • I'm not a big fan of using an acidic liquid (cider, orange juice, ACvinegar) to make brine. Why? The acid is basically "cooking" the turkey well it's in the fridge. (think tartare) Using a acidic brine will cause the bird to extremely dry out and get a weird wrinkly tough skin. Like I said not a big fan, but some like it that way. 
  • Broth is a better choice but it will not give the lean meat extra flavor. Why? Broth is made up of water and protein fat, add salt to the mix and the salt ions will bond with the water first leaving the fat to cling together. When this happens the fat molecules become to large to pass through the muscle membrane. The water and salt are much smaller molecules and have no trouble passing through the muscle membrane. This is why the meat has watery juice and not very flavorful. Click the link --->Broth Wet Brine Recipe

Seasoned Dry Brining

Extended salting or pre salting with extra seasonings. This would be the method I would choose to use if I wanted to brine my fresh turkey. This is about as simple as it gets, no bucket required. Click the link ---> Savory Dry Brine Recipe

I hope you have learned a little something about brining. Brining, give it a try, wet or dry. 

I plan on enjoying my fresh thanksgiving turkey, the way it was raised, clean and free. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good food takes time.

Our birds are purchased through a hatchery, well most of them anyway. These are the dutch white holland turkeys. The bourbon red turkeys that are running around the farm are laid, hatched and raised right here by Momma Turkey...but that's a whole different story. 

Let's talk about the thanksgiving turkey for your table, and why you would purchase a turkey from Woodbridge Dairy Farm.

The short answer is GOOD FOOD takes time.

We put in the time. Our Turkeys are raised on pasture and fed a certified NON GMO feed. (you know the little purple butterfly with the green check mark). Plus when you purchase a fresh Thanksgiving turkey from us, there's no thaw time or any need to brine the turkey, it's good and healthy, just the way it is. Here's an infographic of our 2017 Turkey to Table Timeline. 

Turkey to Table Timeline.png

Click ---> Fresh Thankgiving Turkey to put your name on a turkey today!

Happy Chickens!

I'm so happy that 138 chickens are ready to go to harvest next week (7/14/17). Really, there's 43 Cornish cross (white big birds), 45 Rangers (red heritage birds) and 50 Cornish game hens (white little birds). They are on pasture, fed Non-GMO grain, and live a happy chicken life. 

Our chicken tractors

Our chicken tractors

Ranger hens

Ranger hens

Cornish hens

Cornish hens

Cornish game hens

Cornish game hens

We choose to raise them healthy, cleanly, and with kindness. We don't raise them cheap or fast. It takes a lot of time and effort on our part to deliver this to your dinner table. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Thank you for supporting our family and our efforts to farm with integrity!  


Why do dairy farmers take the baby calf from the momma cow?

I get asked this question every year at least twice. It's a great question. I can only speak about how our farm operates and our reasons why. 

A Long productive healthy life for momma cow.

  • When a calf feeds on momma cow, the calf will usually favor one or two quarters causing the cow to have an uneven bag. A calf will also feed whenever it wants, causing a greater chance of allowing pathogens into the cows teat canal. These factors can lead to production and health problems, shortening the life span of the momma cow. 

Protection and safety of our animals and us.

  • Our cows, most of the time, have their calves out on pasture. We watch, and keep count of the momma cows. A cow will separate itself from the herd to give birth. We have had a coyote attack a momma cow and her new born calf in the middle of the afternoon. We were there in time to collect both animals with only minor injuries. The predators will leave the cows alone as long as they are in a herd. This is a big reason we put the baby calves in the calf barn to keep them safe. 

Building a trust and bond with the calf for the future of the herd.

  • A calf that is hand fed with a bottle forms a trust and bond with humans. When that baby calf becomes a 1000 pound animal, this bond and trust keeps that animal calmer around humans and that keeps us safer. There is nothing like, a crazy, wild eyed, 1000 pound animal, coming at you, to understand the importance of this trust and bond. Together, we learn to respect each other at an early stage in the calf's life. 

Sanitation and healthy product for you to safely enjoy.

  • A calf needs the colostrum from the momma cow, the golden milk made perfectly for baby calf. Calves aren't born with an immune system. Their immune system is built by the golden milk from the momma cow. It's full of antibodies we call IG (immunoglobulins) this protects the calf from disease. A calf doesn't sanitize the teat like we do with iodine and if a calf nurses off a cows dirty teat the chances of a pathogen getting into both their systems is great. An dirty teat can lead to sickness or even death for the calf. A calf requires milk from momma cow for 2 months to fully build it's immune system. This is why we feed milk to our calves and not formula. We also like to consume the milk from momma cow. We drink fresh unprocessed whole milk, a.k.a. "raw" milk. A cow that has the calf always sucking on her has a better chance of getting a pathogen into her teat canal. This can lead to mastitis or other bacterial problems, bad for the cow and for us drinking the milk. A healthy cow produces healthy, clean tasting products. (mmm...butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream...good!)

We will always do what is best for our animals. 

Our reasons for taking the calf from the momma cow, doesn't stem from being in business just to produce dairy. It comes from what is best for the animals and the humans that live in a symbiotic relationship together. Our farm has many threads in the web of life. 

"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." ~Chief Seattle

Momma Cow Michelle and her beautiful baby calf Christian.  

Momma Cow Michelle and her beautiful baby calf Christian.  

Got Questions? Come Visit the Farm

It maybe winter but we farm all year round. I won't be at Fulton Street Farmers Market this Saturday. I will be on farm and the Tiny Growshery House will be open to you. Remember you can put your order in before hand and just pick up. You can wonder around and see the pigs, calves and cows. I'm here to answer questions. This is a great opportunity to get questions answered and to see for yourself what Woodbridge Dairy Farm is all about. This farmer's wife looks forward to meeting you when you stop out. 

Tiny Growshery House is Open

We are trying something new. The building for my owners to pick up their shares, has a keypad locked door. Only those who have the code could get in. Saturday, January 7th, 2017, we are opening it up from 10am-2pm for online ordering pick up. This is for everyone, no door code needed. One of the young ladies that helps around the farm will be there to answer question and hand you your order. This will be the only way to get duck eggs this winter if we have them. So click on the SHOP NOW to place your order.  

What I do, is what I love!

I just recently had someone say to me, "you must have a lot of passion for what you do." That's not the first time I have heard that statement from someone. My question to myself was, what do I do to make someone say that? The short answer to this question is, I do what I love.
Yes, I can think back many times that I have said, I quit and I don't want to do this anymore. Yet, I know who I am.
I am a Farmer's wife. What I do can vary on a day to day basis. I have helped birth calves, pigs, kittens and puppies. I have held an animal and watched the life leave its body, well tears have streamed down my face. I have milked cows, collected eggs from the chickens hidden places. I feed and water all the animals two to three times daily. I have run tractors for many different reasons, from planting to harvesting crops for forage. I have shoveled, scraped, and scrubbed off manure from all sorts of places. I work in all weather to ensure the safety and well being of the animals. I have been chased, bit, kicked, and pooped on by most of them. Yet, on the dark days when I want to quit, a small sliver of hope, love, kindness, even thankfulness shows up most unexpectedly. A small reminder that I'm loved and appreciated by those for what I do. I am a Farmer's Wife.