Q: As a dialysis patient, I have to be very careful with the amount of salt I use. I like to brine meats, but I'm unsure how much sodium the meat is actually absorbing.
A: It's hard for a home cook to know how much sodium meat absorbs from a brine. The amount of salt in the brine, the time the meat soaks and the type of meat make a difference.
The editors at Cook's Illustrated magazine once did a test in which they brined pork chops and skinless, boneless chicken breasts in a solution of 1/2 cup table salt in 2 quarts of cold water for 30 minutes. After cooking the meat, it was sent to a lab for analysis.
The pork chops had a sodium content of 245 milligrams for 100 grams of meat, or slightly less than 1/8 teaspoon per serving, while the chicken breast had 353 milligrams, or just over 1/8 teaspoon per serving.
Because the chicken is less dense, it absorbed more sodium than the pork.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends that anyone in an at-risk category keep daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams, or slightly less than the sodium in a teaspoon of table salt, so 1/8 of a teaspoon could be a fairly high amount.
With so many variables to consider, a person on dialysis should be very careful with something that could raise the sodium level of food.