Brining refers to soaking meat in salt water before cooking. Through a process called osmosis, the meat's cells absorb the water in which they are submerged. Brining is particularly beneficial for meats whose quality is easily compromised by overcooking. Soaking pork loins, other pork cuts and poultry in brine helps prevent them from drying out and becoming tough during cooking. Brining also enhances the flavor of the meat, especially when a sweetening agent is added to the solution. You can even add flavors to a brine for pork loins, so the solution doubles as a marinade.
Select a clean container with a lid that's large enough to hold the pork loin and 3 qts. of liquid. Try a big pot, cooler or plastic container.
Pour 3 qts. of cold water into the container.
Mix 3/4 cup of table salt or coarse kosher salt into the water until it fully dissolves.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey or maple syrup into the brining solution, and mix it in completely. The sweetener is optional, but it greatly enhances the flavor of the pork loin.
Submerge the pork loin in the brining solution, and put the lid on the container. Soak the meat in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours for optimal results. However, brining for as little as an hour provides some benefit.
Transfer the pork loin to a plate after brining, and let it air dry in the refrigerator for half an hour before cooking.
Three qts. of water is adequate to fully submerge average-sized pork loins. You may need to use 4 qts. of water and 1 cup of table or coarse kosher salt for particularly large pork loins. Use 1/2 cup of sugar or other sweetener.
Add other flavors to pork loins by replacing half the quantity of water in the brine with other liquids, such as apple juice, orange juice or red wine. You can also put herbs and spices into a brine.