4Of course some meats, like chicken come packaged with their own (potential) seal in the form of skin. Perhaps the brine modifies the skin more effectively than the flesh, trapping moisture. So I performed another experiment, brining four chicken skin-on-breast-on-bone in an 8% (by weight) salt solution for 90 minutes. Then baked at 310F until each sample reached 168F.

There were four samples- one unbrined, one brined, one where I removed and brined the skin and then replaced the skin on the unbrined breast (attaching with small wood pins), and the inverse (brined the meat, and replaced the unbrined skin before cooking). Interestingly, the skin alone absorbed almost a third of its weight in brine- about right, if the brine penetrates only a mm or two. And the samples with brined skins also took about 25% longer to cook, the added surface moisture leading to more evaporative cooling.

Here are the results in tabular form. Note the samples which lost the largest and smallest amount of weight are the brined meats- they are also the most tender (in blind taste tests). One again, moistness (as measured by weight loss) does not correlated with brining.

  Skin Meat Weight Loss after
15 Min Rest
Tenderness Cooking Time
Unbrined - - 20% dry 37
Skin Brined + - 16% dry, salty 47
Meat Brined - + 13% tender, salty 40
+ + 23% tender, salty 50