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How to Marinate

Want to bump up the flavor and tenderness of entrees and vegetables by several notches? Marinades are the way to go—they tenderize and transform flavor and are ideal for grilled and broiled foods.


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  • Plan for 1/4 to 1/2 cup of marinade for each 1 to 2 pounds of meat, poultry, seafood, fish or vegetables. Marinades soak about 1/4 inch into the surface of the food.
  • Use heavy plastic food-storage bags or nonmetal containers for marinating. Glass and plastic won't react with acidic liquids in the marinade (such as vinegar, wine or lemon juice). Avoid porous earthenware containers because marinades may seep into the pottery.
  • Marinate food, covered, in the refrigerator (not at room temperature) for 15 minutes to 2 hours or longer, and turn food occasionally to evenly distribute the marinade.
  • To tenderize meat, marinate it for up to 24 hours (after 24 hours, the texture of the meat may become mushy). Marinate fish only 15 to 30 minutes; otherwise, it has a tendency to become mushy over a long period.
  • For food safety’s sake, never serve cooked meat on the unwashed platter you used to carry raw marinated meat, poultry, seafood or fish to the oven or grill. Otherwise, bacteria in the raw juices can transfer to the cooked food.
  • Planning on serving a side sauce of marinade? Set aside extra marinade before you marinate raw meat, poultry, seafood or fish, and refrigerate it (covered) until serving time. Prevent bacterial contamination by either discarding used marinade or first bringing it to a rolling boil in a saucepan, boiling for 1 minute and stirring constantly, before serving.

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