Got marinade? Don’t grill without it

Thursday, Aug 09

Are you marinating your meat before grilling? You should be! Marinating meats doesn’t just enhance the flavor, it offers several health benefits as well. From increased flavor to reducing the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs), marinades can do amazing things with your food.

Does marinating your food improve flavor?

Of course! First of all, marinades typically contain oil, which holds in moisture to help prevent your food from drying out. In addition, the oils in marinades help keep food from sticking to the grill.

Besides oil, naturally acidic ingredients are common in marinades. These acidic ingredients are natural tenderizers for your food. Some popular acidic liquids for marinades include citrus juices, wine and beer.

Is marinating your food good for your health?

To the surprise of many, marinades are beneficial to your health for several reasons. One major benefit of marinating your meat is that marinades can reduce HCAs by as much as 99 percent, according to the American Cancer Research Institute.

Acidic marinades also slow the growth of harmful bacteria, like listeria.

What should you know before you start marinating?

One question many people have is how much marinade to use. According to Chef Tony Matassa, you only need to use a half-cup of marinade for every pound of meat, which will also help keep the calorie count down.

Once you’ve got your food in the marinade, many people think they should leave it out on the counter to marinate. Don’t! Put the marinating meat back in the refrigerator while it marinates. You’ll want to marinate for at least an hour. Tough or thick cuts of meat will require several hours, even up to a day. Don’t rush the process.

Finally, marinated meat can’t sit in the fridge forever. Chicken and other poultry must be used within two days of marinating. Beef and other types of meat should be used within five days, according to the USDA.

So the next time you pull out food to grill, don’t forget to pull out the marinade, too. You’ll be thankful when you bite into dinner.

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