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How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

Have you ever reached for a favorite recipe to find that it requires you marinate the chicken overnight? You had to rule out that recipe as an option for the evening and need to rethink your plans. This question may have popped into your head: is it necessary to marinate food and for how long exactly?

Should you bother to marinate your meat overnight, or skip it entirely?

I advise that you try your recipe with the marinade anyway, because even a few minutes sitting in a marinade can greatly enhance the flavor of your ingredients.

That marinade will also improve the texture. Chicken thighs marinated will seem more succulent and juicy than regular chicken thigh fillets.

So should marinating really take hours? It doesn’t have to, but if you have the time, there are two primary reasons to consider marinades: They add flavor and they tenderize the meat.

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Here are some further tips for delicious and safe marinating.

1. Marinating doesn’t have to be complicated.

The best marinades are often very simple, some oil and vinegar or lemon juice will do. Herbs, spices or garlic can add interest, but aren’t essential.

2. Use “non-reactive” containers.

You should mix your marinade in a glass or ceramic bowl and toss the meat in. Metal or plastic containers are best avoided. You could also use a zip lock bag because it’s a great way to get lots of contact between the marinade and the surface of the food, but I often worry about plastic leaching into food.

3. Know when to refrigerate.

If you’re going to cook right away, just leave the marinating ingredients sit while you get ready to cook. However, if you’re not going to be cooking for a few hours or longer, do cover and refrigerate.

4. Cook or discard any used marinade.

You can use the leftover marinade for a sauce. If a marinade has been used for raw food, definitely discard it or boil vigorously for at least 5 minutes before using as a sauce.

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5. Consider a “post-cooking” marinade.

This works when you’re short on time because you can get the food on to cook and mix up your marinade or sauce while it cooks. The post-cooking technique works well for meat because as it rests in the marinade, the juices combine with the marinade to make a delicious sauce. Try cooking a steak then drizzling over lemon juice and olive oil while it rests.

Marinating is also a wonderful way to add flavor to grilled or barbecued vegetables. Try tossing grilled zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant in a post-cooking marinade of one part balsamic vinegar and three parts oil spiked with a clove of garlic and some chopped rosemary. Just remember to remove the raw garlic before serving.

In the recipe below, you can get the same great harissa marinade flavor merely by applying the harissa to the meat before it goes into the pan. If you have time to marinate, do go ahead.

Harissa is a hot spice paste from Morocco and Tunisia. You can buy it in tubes from a good deli. I usually cook my steaks at a very high heat, but I find it’s better to use a more gentle heat here to keep the harissa from burning.

Harissa Steaks with Yogurt Sauce

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Harissa Steak by Jules Clancy

    Serves 2

    2 steaks, trimmed

    2-4 tablespoons harissa

    6-8 tablespoons natural yogurt

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    3-4 handfuls baby spinach

    1. Heat a frying pan or BBQ on a medium high heat.

    2. Combine harissa with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Taste and if it’s not hot enough add more harissa. Toss steaks in the harissa mixture.

    3. Sear steaks for 2-3 minutes each side or until well browned and cooked to your liking.

    4. Season yogurt with salt and pepper and divide between 2 serving plates. Top with steaks and baby spinach leaves.

    Featured photo credit: Jules Clancy via flic.kr

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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