From my understanding, if you add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to chicken soup, the acidic ingredients will denature the proteins.

  1. If I want the protein in the soup to be denatured using these ingredients, what is the best way to go about it and get manximum denaturation and depth of penetration? Eg. should I marinade it, should I simply slow cook it with ingredients added at start, or should I brine in a cider/lemon solution? Please post the recipe I need.

  2. Is it true when using a marinade, like salt, lemon and cider vinegar will only penetrate the surface?

  3. What other ingredients can I use besides lemon and apple cider to do this job, or are lemon and cider vinegar the most effective?


  • 3
    You've gotten a lot of previous answers about how liquid penetrates into chicken. Marinades are no different. The only new part of your question (3), about various acids.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 18:10
  • Oops, "The only new part of your question is (3)".
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


When meat proteins get denatured excessively my the marinade, a cook would normally call that a failure (the texture is generally considered undesirable). So we're not really experts in causing it—we try to avoid it!

For any substantial effect, the acidity has to be pretty high. Adding a little acid to a soup won't do it. You need to add enough to bring the pH fairly low; your soup will be as sour as lemon juice. You probably don't want this, so instead marinate.

When you put meat in marinade, only the outside of the meat is exposed to the marinade. So penetration starts from the outside. It slowly moves inward, but of course marinading time is limited, even in the fridge you can't go too long to prevent spoilage (and freezing will stop the marinade from penetrating). You can add enzymes (papain, also known as "meat tenderizer") to help. But it still has to get through from outside in.

To get full penetration, you want little distance from edge to middle as possible—that is, as little "inside" as possible. You could:

  • cut raw chicken into small chunks
  • cut raw chicken into thin slices
  • run raw chicken through a meat grinder, or buy ground chicken
  • run raw chicken through a food processor, etc.

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