How to Make Marinade

Marinades add flavor and improve tenderness. Learn how to make marinade for your beef, poultry, seafood and pork, and you'll have another weapon in your arsenal of cooking methods.

The ingredients used in a marinade are chosen by the type of food to be marinated. Meats with a lot of flavor require stronger flavored ingredients, and can include a greater amount of the acidic ingredient.

Lighter fare like seafood and poultry require a lighter flavored marinade, and it's important to keep the acid level lower to prevent the fish or chicken from becoming mushy.




How to Make Marinade - Seafood

Foods like fish and shrimp have subtle flavor, so to prevent overpowering that taste use a light hand with ingredients. Choose white wines over the more intensely flavored red wines. When using vinegars or citrus juices, a couple of teaspoons of either added to a cup of water will provide light flavor and the low acidity required to keep the seafood firm.

A little oil in the seafood marinade doesn't hurt at all, and will help prevent sticking to the grill. Seasonings to add include salt, black or white pepper, or a touch of cayenne pepper if you prefer some heat.




Making Marinade for Poultry

A lot of the guidelines for seafood marinades apply here, but the flavors and acidity can be a little stronger. Red wine diluted with some water is good, as is white wine. Beers and fruit juices, especially apple juice are great bases for the poultry marinade too.

You can be a little bolder with seasoning flavors too. Try adding a bit of powdered sage, onion powder or garlic powder to the recipes. Citrus works great with poultry too, and you can add thinly sliced lemons, limes or oranges to the marinades you make.




Beef and Pork Marinades

These full flavored meats can handles intense marinades. Full strength red wine, heavier concentrations of lemon or lime juice or vinegar, and richer flavored seasonings are called for.

Liquid flavorings come in handy here, with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke adding the deep flavors required. Of the vinegars, balsamic vinegar is a great choice. Its deep, rich flavor adds much to beef and pork marinades.


How To Make Marinades - General Tips

  • Make enough marinade to do the job. Make 1/3 to 1/2 cup for each pound of fish or meat. But if you're marinating large cuts like briskets or pork butts, make about two cups, and turn the meat regularly for even coverage of flavor.
  • Use shorter marinating times for delicate foods, like fish and other seafood. Usually 30 to 60 minutes is plenty. For cut poultry, one to two hours is good, and whole poultry double that time. Small cuts of beef and pork one to four hours, depending on thickness (figure one hour per inch, average). Big things like whole brisket can marinate for one or even two full days, again, turning regularly for even flavor.
  • Marinate in plastic, glass or stainless steel. The acidic marinade can create off flavors if used in a reactive container made of regular steel, cast iron or copper. And gallon freezer storage bags make ideal marinating containers, but place the bag in a bowl or dish, just in case it leaks.



Learning how to make marinade isn't at all difficult, and making marinades can be a lot of fun! Experiment with different seasonings, or try a variety of finely chopped vegetables, or even a bottle of that favorite beer you've been sipping!

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