Tenderizing meat naturally can help your steak, chicken, and other meat be juicier and more tender when you eat it. Check out these 5 natural ways to tenderize meat to help you impress your family and friends at your next meal.
“Tenderizing” is a way to prepare meat to make it easier to cut, chew, and digest. Tenderizing meat is perfect for thicker cuts and will help your fried or boiled meat be succulent, tender, juicy and delicious. You can tenderize meat using a few different ways such as pounding the meat with a meat tenderizer or a mallet, soaking it in a marinade, or slow cooking it to perfection.
Why should you tenderize meat naturally
When animals exercise and move, their muscles become tighter and tougher which makes the meat more often hard to chew or digest for you. Tenderizing the meat is one of the best ways to make a mouthwatering, juicy, and flavorful steak, pork, lamb, veal, or chicken.
You can buy pre-tenderized cuts of meat at the store or you can tenderize it yourself.
Store bought, pre-tenderized meat may be easier and less time consuming, but pre-tenderized meat also can have a couple drawbacks.
First, pre-tenderized meat is typically more expensive, and second, commercially tenderized cuts move the meat through a machine that stabs little blades or needles through the cut, which tenderizes them, but there is a risk that the needles could invite harmful bacteria into the center of the meat, making it harder to get rid of.
Of course, if buying pre-tenderized meat is what you want to do, go for it. But, if you want to tenderize your own meat, for budget, health, or any other reasons, there are many natural and easy ways you can do it at home.
Natural ways to tenderize meat quickly
Meat tenderizer or mallet
Using a meat tenderizer or a mallet is one of the easiest ways to tenderizing meat by pounding it and breaking apart some of the muscle fibers in the meat.
Coffee or Tea
Make some coffee or tea and allow it to cool. Marinate the meat in it for up to 24 hours for a flavorful and tender cut.
Vinegar or lemon juice
The acidity in vinegar and lemon juice works really well in breaking down and tenderizing meat. Either soak the meat in vinegar before you cook it, or add a tablespoon of it in with your cooking liquid.
Beer or Wine
Similar to the acidity in vinegar and lemon juice, beer and wine contain tannins and other acids that help tenderize meat as well.
Ginger is a great meat tenderizer because it contains natural enzymes that break down meat protein. It also adds a great flavor to your meat. Leave slices of ginger on the surface of the meat for at least two hours to make the meat tender.
Pineapple, along with papayas, figs, and kiwis, are great fruit for tenderizing meat. Containing enzymes that help break down the tough muscle fibers, pineapple is a great way to tenderize meat. Try placing fresh fruit slices to the meat or marinating it in fresh pineapple juice for a delicious, perfectly tenderized meal.
Either sprinkle and rub some baking soda on the meat and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, or make a paste with baking soda and water and then rub it on the meat and let it sit in the fridge before cooking. Make sure to rinse off the meat before you cook it so it doesn’t taste like baking soda.
Five great tips for tasty and tenderized meat
Try out these five best tips to make your meat nice and tender.
1. Slice against the grain
The “grain” of a steak or other piece of meat refers to the direction the muscle fibers run. “Slicing against the grain,” means to cut the meat perpendicular to the grain so that the muscle fibers get broken down, becoming shorter and more tender.
2. Tenderizing time
The time spent tenderizing is important. If you don’t give your meat enough tenderizing time it may not get as tender and juicy as it could be, and it you cook it too long the juices may run out and leave it dry.
The general rule for marinating or soaking meat in an acid substance like pineapple or vinegar is to only soak it up to two hours. After that the acids may work to toughen up the meat instead of tenderize it, so you want to stick with the two hours.
Every cut is different and has different tenderness levels, so researching and experimenting to find what works great for you is a good idea.
After cooking the meat make sure to have a 5-10 minute rest time (depending on the thickness) so that the juices can redistribute in the meat and keep it tender.
3. Pan or bowl type
Choosing the right pan to cook your meat in, and the right bowl to hold the tenderized meat is another great tip to keeping your meat nice and tender. Some types of metals may react weird to an acid substance (if that is what you are using to tenderize it,) and may be harmful or throw the flavor of the chicken off.
Marinating is a great tenderizing tool that is pretty hand off as well. Throw a delicious flavor combination in a bag with the meat and let it sit in the refrigerator for 6-14 hours for a delicious meal. Remember, if your marinade is acid based only let it marinade for 2 hours for the tenderest results.
Choosing the right temperature is another tip for making juicy, tender meat. Slow cooking meat is one of the ways to naturally tenderize it, like in a pot roast or a stew. It is also important to use a meat thermometer and don’t overcook the meat. Overcooking can cause it to come out dry and chewy.
Tenderizing is an important step in the cooking process in order to serve the best, most tender, and juiciest meat. Using these five tips can help you naturally prepare the best cuts of meat at home for very tasty meals.
Know any other tips for tenderizing meat? Let us know in the comments below.