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With the vacuum sealers that have hit the market, they're have been a lot of toys added onto the products. One such device is used for marinating meat. It just looks like a tupperware bin with a nozzle on the lid, and you use a hose to vacuum all the air out. The claim is that this will pull the fibers of the meat apart allowing you to marinade in half the time.

My question is, does this really work or is it just marketing hype? If it does work, is this a better way of marinating?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This works by increasing the porousness of the meat inside the bag. When a vacuum is created, there is a natural tendency for matter to occupy that space. It does this by increasing the amount of space between particles, otherwise known as density. This increases the size of the microscopic holes in the meat, and thus effectively increases the surface area in which the marinade can contact the meat. More surface area means by marinade sticks to your food.

If you'd like to see the effects of vacuum pressure on foods greatly exagerrated, put a marshmallow in a vacuum seal bag and see what happens. :-)

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I like this explanation even better. It would be like suddenly opening a second door to a crowded club, and letting the people flow in. –  Ocaasi Jul 27 '10 at 18:08
While you are correct in the physics aspect, if you think about it you are maybe opening up an additional 1 mm of pore space on the surface of the meat. Not much improvement that your taste buds would notice. –  user21259 Nov 13 '13 at 2:14
@Mark Meat doesn't have "pores", this is a wild speculation by Leibnitz which has been well refuted in the following centuries. Also, do you have any evidence how much space gets opened, and how large the effect is on taste? (I'm voting neither up nor down, because your explanation is possibly true, I just would like to see evidence before I believe it). –  rumtscho Nov 13 '13 at 11:34
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It works. It's just physics. Vacuuming out air creates lower pressure inside the container. Lower pressure acts like suction, and the liquid 'rushes' into the meat much faster than during normal osmosis (marinating).

It's the difference between letting guests linger on your porch and come in as they please, or grabbing each one by the arm and yanking them inside as they arrive.

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