Homemade marinades: how to make them work and reap the benefits

The secret is in the fresh ingredients! Whether you’re cooking with poultry or red meat, a well-seasoned meat will always be tastier if it’s well marinated. The result will be even more satisfying if your spice blend or marinade is homemade. What is a marinade? A marinade is a dry or wet mix of spices and ingredients whose primary purpose is to enhance the flavour of the meat you’re cooking. In the past, marinades were also used to preserve meat. Some marinades can be kept for a long time, while others cannot. You can find them at just about any grocery store. Some marinades are artisanal, while others are mass-produced by large corporations. However, there are many advantages to making your own marinades. What are the perks and what ingredients should you choose? What is a wet marinade? A wet marinade is made up of tasty liquids that are used to tenderize the meat and add different layers of flavours adapted to your palate and the ingredients you have on hand. The meat is marinated in the flavourful mixture for several hours before cooking. What is a dry marinade? A dry marinade, as the name suggests, is made up of dry rather than wet ingredients, such as a mix of spices. This marinade is rubbed on the meat until well coated as a way to infuse it with aromas and enhance its flavour. The meat is then refrigerated for a few hours to allow it to absorb the fragrances, before being cooked. What are the benefits of a homemade marinade? There are many advantages to making your own homemade marinade. Obviously, you’ll need to take the time to put it together and have all the right ingredients on hand. Usually, a ready-made marinade is the go-to when there’s no time to make our own. But once you get the hang of making yours at home, all you’ll want to do is experiment! The benefits of making your own homemade marinade are many and include: • Choosing your favourite ingredients • Adjusting the taste if it doesn’t suit you • Incorporating fresh ingredients • Avoiding preservatives and unnecessary additives • Being healthier • Saving money by choosing quality ingredients that will be reused often • Avoiding waste How to pull off a successful homemade marinade Making a successful dry marinade is pretty simple. All you have to do is measure your spices, adding just enough, but not too much. The last thing you want is to fundamentally alter the taste of the meat. To make a successful homemade wet marinade, you should properly mix three basic ingredients – a fatty element, an aromatic element and an acidic liquid – in similar ratios. It’s all about trial and error so you can ultimately find what works best for you. The fatty element The fatty element helps bind all the food together, penetrates the meat, and allows for maximum moisture retention during cooking. It is mainly the element that distributes and binds the flavours together, but it can also add flavour. The following ingredients are generally used: • Canola oil, olive oil, sesame oil, flax oil, etc. • Mayonnaise • Coconut milk • Butter The acidic element The acidic element breaks down proteins, preserves the natural juices of the meat and helps tenderize it. The following ingredients are generally used: • Lemon or lime • White wine or red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, sherry or other flavoured vinegar • Citrus juice, apple juice, cranberry juice • Mustard • Beer • Yogurt The aromatic element The aromatic element is obviously the element that will add the most flavour to the meat. It is the key to achieving the infusion of additional flavours you are looking for. There are many elements you can use, including: • Maple syrup • Spicy Tabasco sauce, sriracha, Worcestershire, harissa or hot sauce • Soy, Tamari, Hoisin or fish sauce • Fine herbs • Spices, garlic or ginger • Pepper You now have all the keys in hand to start making delicious homemade marinades. The rest will depend on your palate, the ingredients at your disposal and the meat you’re cooking. Some people prefer marinades that are sweeter, more aromatic or spicier. Have fun and experiment! Three simple recipes for tasty marinades To help you out, here are three of our favourite marinades. They’re simple, tasty and pair well with any meat. Lime and honey marinade • 60 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil • Juice of one lime • 15 mL (1 tbsp) honey • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped Maple syrup marinade • 60 mL (1/4 cup) maple syrup • 60 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil • 30 mL (2 tbsp) lemon juice • 30 mL (2 tbsp) soy sauce • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped • Salt and pepper Asian-style marinade • 60 mL (1/4 cup) honey • 60 mL (1/4 cup) soy sauce • 30 mL (2 tbsp) toasted sesame oil • 30 mL (2 tbsp) rice vinegar • 15 mL (1 tbsp) sambal oelek • Pepper to taste For each of the suggested marinades above, mix all ingredients together and brush on your meat. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours, preferably overnight. Then, simply cook the meat, serve and enjoy. Bon appétit!

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