Marvelous Marinades


'Marinade' photo (c) 2011, Naotake Murayama - license:
Types and Purpose

There are two purposes for marinades. One is for tenderizing, while the other is for flavor enhancement. You can prepare dry, paste or liquid marinades.

Marinades that are acid based will tenderize and add flavor to all types of food, not just seafood and meat. Acids from citrus fruits, yogurt, pineapple, wine, and buttermilk will tenderize your food by unwinding the strings in your protein. This also adds flavor. Marinades that contain oils will penetrate deeper and more quickly into your foods. Extra-virgin olive oil makes a wonderful base for dozens of marinade recipes.  

To enhance the flavor, cooks use rubs or dry marinades. Although some rubs may be beneficial for tenderizing, the main reason for dry marinades and rubs is for flavor enhancement. The dry marinades can be mixed with oil, which is rubbed into the seafood, poultry, or meat. Most dry rubs are used when broiling, pan-frying, or barbecuing.

Flat cuts of meat work best for tenderizing marinades. Larger roasts will only be penetrated so far, leaving you with a tough center, and a mushy exterior. Even if you puncture the meat for penetration, you will get an uneven result. When marinating for tenderizing, place your meat in a large, heavy zip-lock bag. Squeeze out the air, and turn often. 

When marinating with acidic or enzymatic ingredients, made sure that you use glass, stainless steel or ceramic as aluminum will cause a chemical reaction leaving a discoloration. The marinade could also damage your aluminum container.

Average Marinating Time

The longer you leave your food in the marinade, the more flavors it will have. With that being said, marinating time will depend on the size of your ingredients and the marinade that you use.
'Spiedie marinade' photo (c) 2011, whatleydude - license:
As a general guide, marinate beef, pork and lamb for two to four hours, whole roasts four to six hours or overnight. Poultry fillets, wings, drumsticks and cutlets two to four hours, and a whole chicken four to six hours or overnight. Seafood like squid, octopus, and prawns should be marinated for one to two hours, while whole fish, fillets, and steak take two to four hours. Never marinade for more than two or four days, as your marinade will not destroy bacteria. As a rule of thumb only marinate for as long as the meat would remain fresh without marinating in your refrigerator. 
'lamb marinading' photo (c) 2009, mjtmail (tiggy) - license:

Safety in handling proteins and marinades

If you are marinating fish, be sure and discard the marinade after use as it contains the raw juice from the fish. Never reuse marinade as it could be contaminated. If you do want to reuse your marinade, make sure that you boil it for at least five minutes before you use it again.  

Never baste meat or vegetables on the grill with the marinade or raw juice as it could be contaminated.
Before you add your food to the marinade, wash your hands with soap and water.

Marinade Recipes

14 Marinades and Rubs