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From my experience it is always best to marinate meat for a decent amount of time, so the meat can "soak" up the marinade and be more flavourful.

However, I came across this recipe here:

In the directions, it says: Add pork and marinade for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight, but no longer than 12 hours.

I was wondering, why does it say "no longer than 12 hours"? Isn't it good to let meat marinate for as long as possible?


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I marinated a steak in bbq sauce overnight once... so for about 24 hours. And it disappeared. I waited too long and my dad came along and ate it. : ) I know not the answer you are looking for. – terry Mar 29 '11 at 0:55
hahaha i hope to do that to my son one day! well played sir! – Brendan Dec 6 '12 at 1:15
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Two things-

If the marinade is very strong or salty then the meat could simply become over flavored.

If the marinade includes a meat digesting enzyme such as papain then leaving it too long could turn the meat to mush.

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what type of marinade ingredients will contain 'meat digesting enzymes' ? – pyko Mar 30 '11 at 9:53
@pyko- This is not something I am an expert at but... Some ingredients contain proteases, protein digesting enzymes. Two that are common are papain ( and bromelain ( These are found in papaya and pineapple respectively. They can also be purchased as Meat Tenderizer powder and added to marinade separately. – Sobachatina Mar 30 '11 at 12:41
In my very limited experience the over-flavoring has been my most common mistake, especially for things that soak up marinade quickly, if you leave it too long it loses a lot of its normal "meat" flavor, which may or may not go against the taste you're looking for. – Jason C Jun 5 '15 at 22:47

I've also found that if there's a citric acid i.e. lime or lemon juice in the marinade it changes the texture of the meat. Sort of like the process "ceviche" undergoes.

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In Sibiria we used to marinate chicken over 24 before BBQ on open flames. We marinated in lemon juice with a lot of sliced onions and sometimes added wine.

One more thing to consider, when we did that we stored it in cold place. almost at temperature of fridge.

I guess in article they want to make sure that pork does not become bad and start to collect bacteria.

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Marinades typically are more dense, acidic, and can sometimes contain a tenderizer. However, marinating typically only has a significant effect on the surface of the meat so most recipes recommend shorter marinating times so that the outer layers don't get too salty/over-flavored/mushy etc. If you are concerned with making a more tender, juicy, and overall better tasting piece of meat a brine is really what you want.

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