Marinating adds flavor and moisture to food and is an easy technique to incorporate into your cooking skill set. It is the process of soaking meats or vegetables in a seasoned liquid before cooking. Marinades often use an acid (like vinegar or citrus) to enhance flavors. You can buy store-bought marinades, but making your own marinades lets you control the ingredients. The basic ingredients in a marinade are: fat, salt, acid, seasonings, herbs, and sweeteners.
Essentials for Marinating
Food Safety: Make sure to marinate food in the refrigerator. If the marinade is to be used as a sauce, save fresh marinade that has not touched raw meat in a separate container. If you forget to keep some marinade separate, you can also boil the sauce used to marinate raw meat, which will kill harmful bacteria that could cause illness.
Time: Read the recipe and follow the recommendations for marinade times. Marinating some food too long can result in tough, dry or poor texture. Meat can be marinated for anything from 15 minutes to 24 hours. For example, don’t prepare marinated shrimp or chicken and wait several days to cook it.
Acid: It is important to find the right balance of marinade ingredients. Adding too much acid to a marinade can dry out and toughen meats and seafood.
Sweeteners: Marinades that contain sweeteners like sugar or honey will burn quicker, so keep an eye on the food while cooking.