A marinade is a well-seasoned liquid mixture used as a preliminary step in the preparation of many foods, primarily meat, poultry and fish. The marinade flavors foods and sometimes tenderizes meats by breaking down the collagen in animal protein. It is usually a mixture of oil for moistness; an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar, wine, citrus juice or yogurt, for flavor and tenderizing; and seasonings, such as herbs and garlic. For additional information about marinades and food safety, see Food Safety.
Dry marinades (also called dry rubs) are mixtures of herbs and spices that are rubbed onto the surface of meat and poultry and allowed to stand before cooking. The flavor of the herbs and spices permeates the meat and generally produces a more intense flavor than a liquid marinade.
- When a marinade contains an acid, place it in a glass, not a metal container, for marinating food.
- For best flavor, a liquid marinade should completely cover the food. Marinating in a resealable plastic food storage bag allows for better coverage and makes cleanup easy.
- Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
- If using leftover marinade as a sauce over cooked food, for food safety, the marinade should first be boiled for at least one minute.
- Fish should marinate briefly to prevent changes in texture. Chicken should be marinated for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Meats can be marinated up to 24 hours.