What is marination?
Have you tasted juicy ribs that had you asking the cook for a recipe? The chef will mostly likely say the secret was in the marinating. Marinating involves soaking foods in your preferred seasoning, or the chef’s secret seasoning, before cooking it.
This article will discuss the different kinds of marinade, which is the liquid seasoning where the meat is soaked. We will also talk about the benefits of marinating, especially with meat. Which food items do you marinate before cooking? How long does it take to thoroughly marinate a food item? Will using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer really cut down the marinating time? These questions and more will be discussed here.
What is marinade?
This is the liquid seasoning which flavors and tenderizes the meat. A marinade can be either acidic or enzymatic. Either way, you also add oils, herbs and spices to flavor the food to your preference:
- Acidic marinade uses lemon juice, wine, beer or vinegar. Aside from soaking the food in delicious flavor, this kind of marinade can also toughen food;
- Enzymatic marinade uses pineapple, papaya, yoghurt or milk. This marinade turns food into mush.
Adjust your marinade according to the food you are going to use. It is okay to use acidic marinade on meat if it is a tight-textured cut of steak, like flank. Because of its texture, the acid will not seep down through the meat so it will not cause it to toughen.
If you are marinating shrimp, use lesser acid. In that case, you can mix one part acid to four parts of oil. This will give a good texture to your shrimp.
The general rule to have a perfect marinade is to combine 1 part acid with 3 parts oil and your seasoning.
Acids can be wine, beer, vinegar or lemon juice.
For the oil, you can choose from a selection of basil oil, sesame oil, virgin oil, mayonnaise or buttermilk.
And the seasoning can be – according to your taste – fresh or dried herbs, garlic, ginger, onions or hot pepper flakes.
Use acidic marinade for meat and fish, but don’t let it sit too long, and adjust the portion of the acid – the wine or vinegar – especially for the seafood.
To make this marinade, use enzymes from bromelain, like pineapple, and papain in papaya. Use of this marinade is not as common as acidic marinade. Mainly because if left too long, the enzymes can turn the meats into mush.
Foods you can marinate
The most delicious food we like marinated is burgers, steaks and barbecued ribs. But we can also marinate other food products:
- Broccoli and red wine marinade go well together;
- Portobello can enjoy some flavor from balsamic vinegar marinade;
- Chicken can be spiced up with heady mix of tequila, triple sec and lime juice. You won’t even get drunk; just the chicken;
- Lamb will be delicious with olive oil and some rosemary or oregano;
- Pork can have olive oil and some mustard;
- Beef will love balsamic vinegar;
- Tuna steaks will be delicious with soy sauce and orange juice;
- Shrimp tastes great with an olive oil and lime juice combination.
Health benefits of marinating meat
The marinating process is a science. Raw meat is tough because of the collagen and elastin fibers in the connective tissues. To tenderize meat, you can choose to apply moist heat, like braising and stewing, with the meat being submerged in hot water at low temperature but for a long period of time. The other option to tenderize meat is to use acid or enzyme to break down its connective tissues, which toughen the meat. To marinate is a better option not only because it takes less work, but also because it adds flavor to the meat.
Using some common ingredients as a marinade, we can already get so many benefits when using this process:
- Using the right ingredients and the right proportion, it can tenderize your meat giving you a tender juicy steak barbecue;
- Tenderized food is healthy because it requires lesser effort to digest the protein in the meat;
- Marinating locks in the moisture so your food is not dry, and remains juicy;
- It is full of flavor because marinating takes time, allowing the seasoning to thoroughly seep into the food;
- It is good for health. It minimizes cancer risks. One, because some fresh herbs are anti-oxidants. And second, the process of cooking on high heat, like grilling, can increase the carcinogenic HCA’s, but marinating reduces the risk by 99%;
- Using acidic marinade stops bacteria growth. It will slow down the process of spoilage, and you can keep the food longer;
- Marinated foods can be cooked in a variety of ways. The most common is to grill it, but it can also be roasted, boiled, fried or baked. The most special way is for sous vide cooking.
There are some arguments against marinating foods, but the points can be rebutted. The bottom line of it is to use proper ingredients and correct methods for food safety. In the end, the benefits still outweigh the possible risks. The fact that the marinating used is common in daily cooking everywhere.
How to marinate meat properly – The best advice
Get it right and you can enjoy tender, juicy burger steaks or back ribs for dinner. Marinating is an easy process, and here are the tips to help you:
- Marinate the meat thawed. If you marinate frozen, the outer layer will turn mushy;
- After making the marinade and mixing it with the meat or food, place it in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. Do not marinate in room temperature;
- Do not use the used marinade as a sauce. If you wish to, boil it beforehand to make it edible for consumption as table sauce;
- Or instead, make a different marinade to be placed on the table as sauce;
- It is safest to marinate in a glass container as acid does not react to glass. You can also use food-grade plastic containers. Other kinds of material can react with acid and would not be safe when ingested;
- Save the used marinade for future use by storing it in the refrigerator. Don’t forget to label;
- If you are using the same marinade for chicken and another kind of meat, it is best to use separate containers for each;
- Make enough marinade to submerge your meat or fish;
- You can make indentions in your meat to allow absorption of the marinade.
How long to marinate food?
This can be a trick question. As earlier stated, acidic marinade may toughen up meat, while enzymatic marinade may render it mush.
On the premise that you have properly used the correct ratio of acid or enzymes in relation to the seasonings and oils, here is a guide as to how long you should marinate your food prior to cooking:
General rule: at the shortest, 30 minutes is needed for flavors to seep in. Any time shorter than that means the flavors will only be on the surface, and not deep down in the meat.
- Vegetables – minimum time up to a few hours;
- Fish and other seafood – maximum of one hour;
- Chicken – minimum of 3 hours, maximum of 12 hours;
- Pork – minimum of 3 hours, maximum of 12 hours;
- Beef – minimum of 3 hours, maximum of 24 hours;
- Lamb – minimum of 3 hours, maximum of 24 hours.
If you are asking if you seriously have to wait that long, well, yes if you want your food savory, delicious, juicy and tender. Surely, you have many related questions such as:
How to speed up marinating?
How to marinate meat quickly?
How to marinate meat fast?
So what is the solution? Yes, technology is our choice; there is the quickest way to marinade and still get the best results that is to use a good vacuum sealer and its accessories.
What items do you need to speed up marinating?
- FoodSaver vacuum sealer. There are so many models to choose from. The trick is to choose the model which can work with a marinator. This model would usually already come with accessory hose attachments;
- Quick Marinator. This is a glass container which has a lid. The lid would have settings for the FoodSaver model of vacuum sealer you are using. The lid also has an adapter to attach the hose;
- Accessory hose attachment. Some FoodSaver models have this as part of the kit, while for some, you may have to purchase it separately.
Why using the vacuum sealing system help to speed up marinating?
Ever had that craving for a juicy steak but you can’t wait too long to get it marinated and cooked? With a FoodSaver vacuum sealer, you get the most benefits when it comes to marinating your food:
- The marinating time is very obviously minimized to just 12 minutes instead of hours of waiting;
- The marinator, a glass container, is a safe container to use and can withstand even your acidic marinade;
- Because of the vacuum process, the flavors effectively and evenly seep through the foods being marinated. This happens because when you vacuum meat, it increases its porousness, meaning the microscopic holes in the meat get bigger, making more room for the marinade to enter and seep in;
- The vacuum process creates a pressure on the liquid marinade to ‘rush’ into the meat and seep deeper into it;
- Repeating the vacuum process in the Quick Marinator 2 to 3 times works best because the air and some liquid is removed from the meat during vacuum, and on the release, the marinade moves in a rush into the meat. This results to marinade being more infused into the food.
How to marinate meat quickly by using FoodSaver vacuum sealer?
The magic of marinating can be done in lesser time using a FoodSaver quick marinator and vacuum sealer. Here is how:
- Mix your marinade together in a separate bowl;
- Then put in your meat and rub the marinade over it;
- Transfer the meat inside your FoodSaver quick marinator;
- Pour your marinade into the glass container as well, and mix it together with the meat;
- Leave at least one inch from the top;
- Cover the marinator with its lid;
- On the lid, choose which model of FoodSaver you are using and set the dial to that;
- Get the accessory hose from the vacuum sealer, usually at the bottom part;
- Attach the end of the hose to the adapter at the top of the marinator;
- Turn your FoodSaver vacuum sealer on and set on marinate;
- It will vacuum the marinator until you hear a beep to signal the end of the process;
- The marinade will bubble a bit while being vacuumed;
- You can repeat this process up to three times to get best results;
- At the beep, remove the accessory hose attachment to the marinator;
- You will hear the sound of air being released;
- You can go ahead cook the meat, or transfer it to a different container for refrigeration.
Top-notch tips on using Quick marinator and Vacuum sealer
It can give you the juiciest and most tender steaks, at so much lesser time. Get the best out of your marinator and vacuum sealer:
- Use lesser marinade, just enough to cover the meat. The vacuum process will make the marinade so concentrated so use sparingly;
- One marinate cycle in the vacuum sealer can last about 4 minutes so you can do the cycle 3 times;
- For fish, you can do just 2 cycles.
Try this two-step process – The UNIQUE TIPS:
- Put the meat inside the Quick Marinator. Put it on top of a support, like a rectangular glass for butter. The point is to have the meat dripping, the liquid not touching the meat;
- Vacuum the Quick Marinator, stopping only when the meat is not dripping any liquid;
- Open the Quick Marinator and remove the rectangular glass support. Leave the meat inside;
- Pour the marinade into the meat. Vacuum until bubbles stop.
Quick Marinator vs. Plastic Bags Comparison
A glass marinator would be the best container to use for the quick marinating. However, there is another option if you don’t have one: plastic bags. Just remember though that it has to be BPA-free to make it safe to use considering the acid content of your marinade. Here is a comparison of these two containers:
|Quick Marinator||Plastic Bag|
|Less messy, less spills||Possible spill because the bag can’t stand up by itself|
|Glass is safe to use with acid||Has to be food-grade to be safe|
|Can be reused safely and quickly||Has to be thrown after a few uses|
|Needs adapter and hose attachment||No need for adapter or hose attachment|
|Marinates in 12 minutes||Marinates in 30 minutes|
|No problem with the liquid marinade||Countertop vacuum sealers cannot efficiently vacuum seal liquids. Chamber vacuum sealers do the best job.|
|More expensive||Not expensive|
The key problem when using plastic bags on your vacuum sealer is that the more common countertop vacuum sealers do not effectively vacuum seal liquids. The tendency is to have the liquid marinade being sucked out. There are, however, the best tips to make it work:
- Freeze the marinade before putting it inside the bag to be vacuumed;
- Use an extra long bag to have more space at the top, then put some folded paper towels there to absorb the liquids so it would not be sucked out during vacuum sealing.
Marinating food makes it delicious, juicy and for the meat, tender. There are two secrets to it – the recipe of the marinade and the process of marinating. We have provided you with the chef’s secrets on how to portion your acids and seasonings. We have also given tips on what kind of marinade goes best with certain foods. The last and most important secret is on the process. Sadly, using conventional ways, the process can take up to 24 hours to get tender juicy meat. Thanks to the technology of FoodSaver, using their Quick Marinator and their vacuum sealer, the process can be shortened to just 12 minutes. How quick is that! In 12 short minutes, you can get your meat to top condition ready for grilling or cooking.