A marinade is a seasoned liquid used for soaking meat, poultry, fish or vegetables in order to tenderize or to add flavour. Most marinades contain oil, herbs and spices, as well as an acid ingredient which serves as a tenderizer. Acid ingredients may include vinegar, lemon juice, wine, beer, tomato juice or citrus juice. For variety, experiment with different ingredients, as each will give the marinade its own distinct flavour.
Keep the following tips in mind when using marinades.
- Marinate meat, poultry, fish and vegetables separately. Reserve a small amount of unused marinade for basting purposes, if desired.
- As most marinades contain an acid ingredient, marinating should be done in a glass or plastic container. Marinating food in a double plastic bag or heavy zip-top plastic bag is both convenient and effective. Do not use metal containers for marinating food as the acidic mixture may react with the metal.
- A marinating time of 8 - 24 hours is usually required for tenderizing meat. If a marinade is to be used only to flavour food, marinating times are usually in the range of 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Marinades do not prevent bacterial growth. When marinating food for longer than 30 minutes, marinating must be carried out in the refrigerator.
- Marinating for too long may produce a product that is mushy or has an overpowering flavour. Follow recipe directions for marinating time.
- Previously used marinades should not be saved or reused for another occasion as the marinade will contain juices from the raw food which could be contaminated with bacteria.