As many of you already know, a few years back I made the decision to eliminate as many processed foods and products from our diets. This was the inspiration for creating The Zesty Moose Products! It has definitely been a challenge, but the effort in reducing it for the most part has been much more beneficial for our health and our pocket books! One of the most difficult food items to cut out was the already prepared bottled marinades, sauces and salad dressings. Who can pronounce all of those ingredients listed on the nutritional panel? Just keep cruising past all of those little dry packaged marinades that we are sold on as being convenient. The first three ingredients are usually salt, sugar and maltodextrin. Citric Acid, Corn Syrup Solids and Silicon Dioxide are not ingredients we cook with at home? I think it goes without saying we are not buying real food or quality ingredients in those packets!
Here are some ideas and tips on creating some simple, healthy and affordable marinades at home. The purpose of a marinade is to simply add flavor and then to tenderize the meat. A marinade contains 3 basic components:
1. Acid; which is typically some type of vinegar, lemon, lime or orange juice, or even wine.
2. Oil; usually olive oil, but you could use canola, safflower or peanut. There are flavored oils out there but remember the idea of a marinade is to flavor so refrain from getting to complex on your oil choice. The oil adds moisture, and not so much flavor to the meat, while the acid breaks down the protein especially in tougher cuts of meat. A simple vinaigrette dressing or marinade ratio is three parts oil for every one part acid used. This can easily be adjusted depending upon the choice of meat.
3. Flavor; generally accomplished by using a combination of herbs and spices.
Tips And Warnings On Marinades:
1. Pierce the meat with a fork as this allows the marinade to enter the tissue quicker.
2. Use a Non-Reactive container, such as glass, stainless steel or plastic zip lock bags. Never use aluminum as it reacts to the acid.
3. Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator, not on the counter as bacteria can grow, especially on pork and chicken.
4. Remove meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Placing cold meat directly onto the grill will make the cut tough.
5. Do Not Re-Use Any Marinade that has come into contact with raw meat! You can boil it first and then use it but I would not suggest doing this. You are safer to just discard it. If you want to use it for basting, I suggest reserving some of the marinade and set it aside before adding your meat.
6. For best results, always marinate over night or at least 4 hours. It really depends on the cut. Delicate cuts such as fish should be 30 minutes, while seafood, like shrimp should only be 15 minutes. This is because the acid will start to cook it.
7. Use Seasoning Blends instead of buying herbs and spices. You can easily spend $15 to $25 dollars alone in buying them individually. Again, in most store bought blends or packets; the first 3 ingredients are usually salt, sugar maltodextrin and sometimes MSG (monosodium glutamate); a chemically altered food enhancer.
Benefits Of Making Them At Home:
• More Affordable than store-bought brands
• No Preservatives, fillers or MSG
• Better Control over ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat
• Capability of creating different flavor profiles
Additional Ingredients And Substitutions:
(This is where you will save money, as these items are normally stocked in
most home pantries).
Grape Seed Oil
Red Wine, White Wine, Rice, Cider or Balsamic Vinegar
Lemon, Lime and Orange Juice
Red & White Wine
Horseradish or Wasabi Powder
Regular Tap Water
Fresh Onion – Red, White or Shallots
The Zesty Moose Favorites:
I use this marinade most of the time because it uses only three ingredients plus one of our Seasoning Blends! For this marinade, I use a one part olive oil to one part red wine vinegar to one part water. I then change up the flavor profile by using one of our many signature spice blends. These are two of our top sellers for creating marinades! The Twigs n’ Stix Southwest Seasoning Blend is a good choice for chicken, and the Rack Ragin’ Cajun Seasoning Blend works well with pork.
So give these marinades a try, and get creative with the ingredients! Generally I will always use some type of a marinade for preparing our meats whether we slow cook it in the oven or prior to placing it on the grill. The combination of marinating and using a good seasoning blend (that contains real food ingredients) adds to the infusion of flavor. This is known in the culinary world; as “The art of flavor layering.” We are always developing new recipes for our products so keep checking the food blog on the front page of our website. You can also get new recipes, receive notifications on product releases and updates by subscribing to our page! Click Here!