Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 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. :-)

share|improve this answer
    
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

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.

share|improve this answer

I'd love a factual scientific explanation on this.

I know from experience that vacuum marinating does work and works faster than without vacuum. You can marinate meat like steak in minutes as apposed to hours and hours otherwise.

But why does this work? I haven't read an convincing explanation. I know it does work....from experience...but why?

I'm thinking as such:

1) you are lowering the pressure outside of the meat. Of course 2) So...the internal pressure in any cavity inside any pores or spaces inside the meat will be greater that the outside...at least for a time until equalized. 4) So what ??? How does that help marinate the meat any faster?

Maybe since the marinade starts out below the meat at the bottom of the container...it is drawn up into the meat thru any pores or cavities via pressure differential.

This would require a pressure differential between the bottom of the container, where the fluid marinade is, and the atmosphere above the meat. So in effect you are drawing the liquid marinade from the bottom of the vacuum container through the meat to equalized the pressure differential. I can believe that...but is that what's actually happening?? I don't know for sure.

Opening or widening of any cavities is possible too. Put a marsh mellow in a food saver container and draw a vacuum and you can watch it expand. But this would only work with closed cell cavities. Pressure inside the cavities remains at one atmosphere but the outside becomes less that one atmosphere.

So why would that help draw a liquid into a piece of meat? I don't think it would. I also don't see a piece of steak expanding when I put it in a food saver container and draw a vacuum.

I think my first explanation makes the most sense. When you draw a vacuum in the container it first develops above the meat. Below is a pool of liquid marinade...an incompressible fluid. The meat acts like a gasket or seal between the area below it, filled with fluid marinade, and the low pressure area above.

This imbalance isn't natural...and lower pressure region seaks to balance with the higher pressure region below....so the marinate fluid is drawn up and thru any pores or cavities in the meat, trying to fill the vacuum above...because nature abhors a vacuum.

Meat may or may not have pores. I don't thing it does....but it certainly does have gaps and spaces in it's mass.

So to be succinct and scientific...I suspect...you are just sucking the marinade thru the meat with a vacuum marinade system like a food saver container.

I will totally consider other theories.

share|improve this answer
    
Oooh! Please excuse some rather poor spelling errors above. LOL –  MCRodgers2 Aug 16 at 7:40

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.