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How Long is too Long?

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Post Fri Jan 23, 2004 5:13 pm
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
With regards to rubs and marinades we all know that the longer the sit the more intense the flavor. But at what point does the flavor reach saturation? Is there a point that even if let to sit longer the flavor would not increase any. At what point is it too long for meat to sit before cooking? Does the imersion in a marinade extend this period? Does it depend on the type of meat, beef, chicken, lamb?

Personally (my uneducated opinion) I have let londonbroil sit for a week. Start marinating Sunday and cook the following Sunday. However I would feel very uncomfortable (and probably wouldn't) cook it on Monday.

I'm hoping some of you science guys can shed some more light on the subject.

Post Fri Jan 23, 2004 6:03 pm
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3209
Location: Atlanta-GA
Generally, marinades contain an acid, salt and sugar based ingredients. These ingredients can usually cook or cure the meat if they’re left on it for a long time. The degree of marinades effectiveness also depends on the shape, cut and type of meat. For instance, fish can be cooked in an acid based marinade in about 2 hours. Where as beef or lamb roast could last a week the refrigerator. If you were trying to marinade red meat, you’d want time it based on the thickness of the meat. A steak may need 2-4 hours, where as a roast may need several days. This also depends on the type of steak you’re cooking. A flank steak we’ll require more time then a rib eye steak. For best results, marinate thick/dense cuts of meats for 8-12 hours, and small/thin cuts of meat 2-6 hours. Seafood needs no more than 2 hours. These are just estimated times, you really have to experiment and judge what works best for you.
I hope this helps.

Post Fri Jan 23, 2004 6:19 pm
YardBurner BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5469
Location: Damascus, Maryland
Be careful with any commercial marinades that contain papain (spelling?) Lawrey's etc.

This is usually the main ingredient in meat tenderizer. It's an extract of the papaya.

If you leave it on too long the surface of the meat starts to turn all mushy and slimy. It's as if it's being digested.

Rather than overly long soaking times or if i'm short on time I'll break out the old hypodermic (hold still chagan!) but be careful with the salt level in a injection heavy salt on the outside is balanced by unsalted meat on the inside. If you filler up with salty injection it tatses like wet jerky.

Fish soaked too long in a high acid marinade turns into ceviche. Very delish if done right, tates like chum if done wrong.

Post Fri Jan 23, 2004 11:16 pm
hickory pete well done
well done

Posts: 403
I'm sure that I'm way too cautious when it comes to marinade, and because of that some flavor is sacrificed. I only like to marinade a few hours, but no longer than overnight.


Post Sat Jan 24, 2004 2:02 am
GrillGuy rare

Posts: 22
Location: Midwest
the whole marinating process is confusing. i have read a million different takes on marinades--but i have taken them all with a grain of salt and gone by my own past experience.
i've got marinades that truely take 20 minutes to achieve 'full flavor', and i've got some that IMO really need 2 full days to provide the same full flavor.
my general process is to marinate any type of beef, pork, or bird for 12-36 hours (although 3 hours or so is good too in some cases). fish is a different story, as described above.
i've read before that any type of marinade will at best only penetrate the meat about a quarter of an inch. don't know how true this is, but (once again excluding fish) i find that marinating too long never hurts, and often times helps.
hope i've added to the confusion!!

Post Sun Jan 25, 2004 11:32 am
chagan well done
well done

Posts: 1350
Location: Central NJ by way of NY
I'm juicy enough YB, and how long have you been eating chum? :) I marinade the Buffa-Q wings overnight as directed, but that is ok, bucause there is only a half cup of lemon juice in the mix. The time will depend on the acid content and the food in question. Can't be stressed enough about fish and in some cases chicken or other poultry that a high acid content will cook the meat if left too long. Many marinades call for 30 minutes to an hour for fish, so check visually and make sure that the fish or chicken is not changing color around the edges. If you use the Jarred Meat tenderizer (or similar product) as mentioned in the "secret meat weapon" thread, you will be able to get the marinade to penetrate deeper and in a shorter time. Don't worry about the concerns about "punching holes" in the meat and having the juices run out- the meat will be at room temp and no juices will be lost. An additional benefit of this method is that it seperates the connecting tissue and results in a more tender product. Another option would be to get a vacume marinader. I have one that is a shallow plastic dish in which you put your marinadee in and cover with the lid. You squeeze the air out using a hand pump that fits on the lid. This seems to enable the meat to pull the marinade in much faster than usual. Always marinade in the fridge, and take the meat out about a half hour or so before going on the grill so that the middle isn't too cold resulting in the burnt outside-not done inside horror show. Salute!

PS I've purchased the Lawry's 30 minute marinade in the past and it was awful- tasted like shoe polish and coffee- not too bad, but I don't like coffee. Won't be visiting that section of the supermarket again.
Last edited by chagan on Mon Jan 26, 2004 11:10 am, edited 2 times in total.

No, it ain't burnt- it's barbecue

Post Mon Jan 26, 2004 10:20 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
Thanks guys for the advise.
I'm walking away with three key bits.
1: To each his own.
2: There is such a thing as too long.
3: I personally have probably being going too long in many cases.

Thanks for the help guys.
Thats why I love this place.

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