Dave, what I've heard about the koshering process from a variety of sources is that meat needs to be made kosher through brining because brining "draws out the blood."
Although I am by no means an expert on Kosher law, this does not seem to be entirely accurate. Brine is a solution of liquid and salt. Something that is "brined" is soaked in such a solution.
Kosher law, and I'm going on what I read here
, does not specify that meats be brined. Rather, they are soaked in tepid water for at least half an hour, the idea being, I gather, to soak it until the water no longer becomes reddened by the "blood" (actually probably myoglobin and dissolved minerals). After that, the water is drained away, salt is applied to every surface of the meat and the meat is placed where the "blood" can easily drain off. After an hour of salting, the salt is shaken off and the meat is rinsed three times (hopefully under the supervision of a G-d-fearing woman).
I would call this "salting" rather than "brining." As revealed in this thread
, not everyone in these forums would agree with me. Call me conservative, but I hold that brining requires brine.
Does brining indeed draw out the blood? And if so, does it draw it all out, or just some of it?
I had always understood that there was no blood in the flesh of animals slaughtered by modern methods anyway. I have placed quotes around "blood" above because I think the salt part of koshering doesn't actually remove any blood. Perhaps one of the meat biz people can chime in here about whether there is any actual blood in meat. Regardless, I am at a complete loss as to any scientific explanation for how salting could "draw blood" out of meat.
The more I poke around the Internet reading about this, the more I think that many of the koshering procedures are designed to eliminate the appearance
of blood or things that seem like they might be blood. For example, it's not clear to me that kashering
(broiling, more or less) will really get rid of any blood that is potentially in a liver... but I imagine it makes the liver seem
And is there anything actually kosher about kosher salt, or is it called kosher salt only because it's used in the koshering process?
No on one and yes on two. According to the site I referenced at the top, "the salt should not be as fine as flour, as it would dissolve too quickly and would not properly drain the blood. Neither should the salt be too coarse as it may drop from the meat. The salt should be of medium size, like that used for cooking, and should be kept dry enough to be easily sprinkled."