A marinade is a seasoned liquid medium in which food are soaked, particularly meats, before cooking. A marinade adds flavor to meat and makes them tenderer. A ‘marinade’, can either be acidic; contains ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine, or enzymatic made with ingredients with fruit sources, like pineapple, pawpaw or ginger. In respect to these ingredients listed above, a marinade also contains oils, herbs, and spices to further flavor the food items.
Marination is the process of immersing foods especially meat in a seasoned liquid medium before cooking. This liquid medium is most time acidic or enzymatic. Marination makes it possible for the protein to be broken down, thereby reducing the cooking time as well as minimizing moisture loss during the cooking process.
METHODS OF MARINATING MEAT:
1) WET MARINATING:
Wet Marinating is process whereby the meat is completely immersed in a Marinade liquid. With the Marinade covering the meat, it prevents it from going bad. It’s been said that piercing a meat with knife will increase the uptake of marinade by the meat, this is not true. Rather, you create more ways for the juices in the meat to escape or draw out. Also, do not used salt in wet Marinades, this gives the salt the opportunity of drawing out all the juices in the meat, rather than then having a tender meat, you meat end up getting tough. Note that it is advised that one should never re-use a used marinade, as bacteria from the former raw meat will be taken up by the new one. We have three types of wet marinades;
- ACIDIC MARINADES: ingredients such as wine or vinegar, acidic juices like tomato juice and citrus juices are used. The acid acts by loosening the bonds between proteins of the meat, causing them to loosen up. If a meat is left for too long in this medium, the bonds between the proteins start to form again, squeezing out the juices and making the meat really tough.
- ENZYMATIC MARINADES: Fruits such as kiwi, pawpaw and pineapple are used. They break down muscle fiber, and if a meat stays too long, the juices in the meat flows out, while your Wet Marinade will flows in. when cooking such meat, the Wet Marinade that was taken in just evaporates, and leaving the meat dry and tough.
- DAIRY MARINADES: this marinades makes use of buttermilk and yoghurt which are mildly acidic. The calcium in the dairy product activates the enzymes in the meat breaking down proteins in the meat.
2) DRY MARINATING
- DRY RUBS: also known as “barbeque spices.” are made up of ingredients such dried herbs, spices and salt. The downside of using salt is that it draws out draws out the meat’s juices. To apply Dry Rubs, one will need to dampen the surface of the meat, and then apply the dry mixtures allowing them to stick. The rubs creates a flavor and texture contrast between the inside and outside of the meat, thereby when it is cooked the inside tastes normal like it would, while the outside the given a better flavor with crunchiness. Dry Rubs are easier to apply, less and actually easily noticeable. Popular examples of Dry Rubs are Cajun, Tex-Mex, etc.
3) WET RUBS: popularly known as ‘Pastes’ are somewhat similar to Dry Rubs, except that the spices and herbs are mixed together with oil to form a paste. Paste makes a good Wet Rub for poultry meat; chicken, turkey, etc. and seafood.
Different flavors of Marinades are used for different meat cut. You use a wine or vinegar based Marinade for beef or pork cut, while you use fruit-based marinade for seafood and poultry.
FAQs About Marinating:
1. Q – Can meat marinate too long?
A – No, it is not advised to marinate your meat for too long. Not more than 24 hours, as the marinade start to act on the meat, sucking out the juice and making it tough.
2. Q – Can you marinate meat and freeze it?
A – Yes. This will prevent microbial growth on the meat, it is advised to seal the meat in porous plastic to prevent freeze burn. Note that over freezing will affect the texture and color of the meat.
3. Q – Can you marinate meat in an aluminum foil?
A – No. it is advised that only glass and food-safe containers should be used for marinating. Using aluminum foil will cause the aluminum to react with the acid in the marinade causing change in the color and taste of the meat, creating an off-taste.
4. Q – Does marinating meat make it last longer?
A – Because the acidic or alkaline nature of the marinade medium, and the antimicrobial or antioxidant activities of some marinade additives acts as preservatives for the meat reducing the growth of bacteria, thereby extending the shelf life.
It is advised to keep the marinating item in the refrigerator and not to marinate at room temperature. Make sure you use glass, zip-lock bag or plastic-safe container to marinate your meat, avoid using aluminum foil and metal bowls to marinate, as the acid from the marinade can react with the metal or aluminum causing a change in the color and taste of the meat. When a marinade comes in contact with raw meat it picks up any bacteria that are on the meat. Do not re-use any marinade that has come in contact with any raw meat, the bacteria from the old marinated meat can get into the new meat cut.