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My wife and I had planned to cook a brisket for dinner tonight. Our plans have changed and we would now like to cook and eat the brisket tomorrow night instead. Yesterday, before we knew our plans would change we put the brisket into a marinade. Currently, our 3 pound brisket is in the refrigerator sitting in a bath of the low sodium version of Claude's BBQ Brisket Marinade Sauce.

Is it okay to continue to let the brisket marinade until we cook it tomorrow? Do we need to cook it today and serve the brisket as leftovers tomorrow? Or do we need to get the brisket out of the marinade, but still cook it tomorrow?

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Generally, yes, you can leave a brisket in a marinade for 48 hours or even longer. The exception would be a marinade that is very highly acidic, but not that's not likely to be a problem with a commercial marinade.

  • This particular product is mostly vinegar and tomato. If 48 hours is okay is there a maximum? – ahsteele Mar 7 '16 at 2:28
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    Considering the size of your roast and that the marinade is at least fairly acidic, I'd call 72 hours your max (for quality, not safety). For safety, consider the Use-By date on your label. – Jolenealaska Mar 7 '16 at 2:31
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I would remove the brisket from the marinade and transfer it to an air-tight large freezer bag (or something similar) with a flavor-neutral oil such as grapeseed if you can't cook it right now.

The level of acidity in that particular marinade is going to do two things to the brisket:

  • Interfere with the natural enzyme production that normally happens in wet aging, which tenderizes the meat
  • Cause the protein bonds in the meat to actually tighten rather than relax. This forces moisture out, and toughens the beef - which could result in a rather dry and tough brisket.

I don't think 48 hours is too long, but you should be able to tell if the adverse effects have taken place - you'll have more than a bit less brisket and more than a bit more liquid than you started with. If that's the case, don't panic but:

  • At least start it in a pressure cooker, if you have one. You can finish any way you like
  • If you don't have a cooker, go really low, and really slow on the cooking. 325 F max, covered, for at least a few hours.

As Joel noted, it's not a food safety concern, but more of a 'don't wreck your brisket before you start cooking it' sort of thing :) Leaving it to rest out of the marinade for another 24 hours in an air-tight covering might actually be the best idea.

  • I'm not entirely sure what the actual acidity levels of the marinade are, you'd get a good idea by giving it a taste (if you have any that you haven't used). If it's not too acidic, and the brisket looks the same size-wise, don't worry about it. – Tim Post Mar 7 '16 at 9:12

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