Hey everyone! I’m thinking of doing some marination in the vacuum bag, but I was wondering what’s the maximum “safe” amount of liquid to use. I have a very basic sealer, with no option to control the vacuum strength. Thanks in advance!
One way to deal with liquids is to freeze the liquid in the bag (with the bag still open), and then vacuum seal the bag once the contents are frozen.
Or freeze the liquid in ice cube trays
As far as ‘safe’ goes, as much as you can get to stay in the bag by whatever method you choose. But personally, I don’t think marinating is much worth the effort that it takes.
It doesn’t penetrate very far into the meat, unless we’re talking weeks of soaking. Better to use your marinade flavours in a sauce where they will have full impact.
Ice cubes sort of work, but not that well. (I tried.). With ice cubes, there is a lot of air space between the cubes. Even vacuuming at the highest setting, a lot of dead space is left between the ice cubes, and the vacuum sealer isn’t strong enough to really evacuate the air that remains in the dead spaces.
So, once you put the bag with frozen cubes into the water and the ice/sauce/marinade has melted, the bag ends up with a fair amount of air in it, which makes the bag float. Not a big deal, but it means you have to weigh or force the bag down somehow to keep it submerged.
Shaved ice works better than ice cubes because there is much less air space overall between the shavings. But shavings don’t really work for marinades and sauces, only for water. (I’m assuming a freezer with an ice maker; I don’t think I’d want to use the ice maker in my freezer to shave frozen beef bullion…)
If you need additional water for a recipe (such as making veggie stock), shaved ice works really well. For sauces and marinades, I wouldn’t bother with shaving the frozen liquid. Too messy. Instead, just freeze the whole lot in the bag so you get a solid lump, and then vacuum seal the bag once the contents are frozen.
As @Ember indicated, vacuum marinating isn’t really worth the effort, even with the containers sold with the popular vacuum sealers (like the one that begins with “F”). I usually get better results with a good dry or web rub.
And as @michihenning recommended, freezing the liquid in an open bag and then sealing is the easiest and least messy way. Even with a “moist” setting, it’s difficult to handle a bag of liquid in the sealer.
I often do the freezing method with soups, chilis and stews done in a slow cooker and then re-heated later in the Anova.
Thank you all for the replies and suggestions! Perhaps I will stick to dry rubs after all.
May I also ask, in your experience, does it matter if you season the food (let’s say a steak or fish, nothing above 3 h cook time) before or after cooking? The reason I ask this is because my meat supplier already vacuum-packs the meat which is delivered to my house. It seems like a waste of effort and bags to cut open the bag of the pre-packed meat, season it, then re-bag and reseal it.
Salting before cooking is another of those things that come down to personal preference. Salt is absorbed by the muscle, unlike other things. If you salt a piece of meat and leave it for a while you’ll see it draw out some moisture. However, if you leave it long enough that moisture will be reabsorbed. So, that seems to banish the idea that salting prior to cooking dries the meat out. I do feel at times that it can impact the texture of the meat a little.
I find much more impact by seasoning meat prior to searing, as the salt at this stage assists promotion of the Maillard reaction and adds a little brightness to the flavour.
As far as the meat from your butcher goes, I’d still recommend repackaging. There are many different qualities of plastic used for vacuum packing and not all are suitable for sous vide processing. Repackaging also offers you a chance to inspect the product, trim if desired, match sizes and thicknesses or truss for presentation.
For liquid marinate, I would use silicon bag and seal it with water displacement method.
I just got a top of the line vacuum sealer that should be coming in within the week. I’m going to attempt to do some vacuum marinading. I’m typically a marinading/smoking type of guy myself so I’ll be certain to let you know my thoughts on the matter. The feedback may not help you since you state you have a, “very basic sealer” but perhaps it’ll assist you in future reference.
Aside from that Gestons suggestion is a very good alternative as I myself currently use the displacement method. It’s not really ‘vacuum marinading’ but will still certainly marinade your meat in a traditional sense though and It’s only limited usefulness as far as shelf life is concerned(I wouldn’t keep it frozen for two years) although you may be able to displace it, marinade it, freeze it, then reseal it using your actual vacuum sealer.
I also fully agree with Embers comments.
RE vacuum marinading: If you let it sit for awhile after applying the vacuum the vacuum sucks air out of the food. The idea is that IF the marinade is covering the food when air is let back in, the vacuum pockets in the food get refilled with marinade instead of air I would think that giving it time to sit, both in the vacuum and then with the marinade still covering the food after releasing the vacuum would give better results. I suspect that those not getting good results from vacuum marinades may be cutting the time too short at one of those stages. JMHO
Example; what the marshmallow does when air is reintroduced into the mason jar.
interesting video but hardly applicable to most food. Marshmallows have a highly elastic composition in a closed cell structure. so on the air In the cells expands it doesn’t go anywhere it just makes the cells larger and when the vacuum is the least the cell just returns to its previous size.
Most foods have a high cellulose content that makes the structure inelastic and there are microscopic gaps between the cells (
Pssst… it doesn’t work guys.
Ember, could you please explain?
Outlier, I agree with your statements; it was mainly just an exaggerated visual example. Also, here’s another fun video.
The best explanation is the one by Meathead Goldwyn of Amazing Ribs. Here is his article on Brines and Marinades. There is a little paragraph on vaccuum marination before he goes into his test on the penetration (or lack thereof) of marinades.
Marinating meat can have some flavour benefits on a surface level. But the idea of applying and releasing a vacuum being able to ‘pump’ a marinade into meat is on a level with Rinse and Repeat on a shampoo bottle, ie) it’s an idea that someone came up with to sell more product.
The marshmallow example is always fun to watch, but a marshmallow really isn’t a good analogue for a piece of muscle. A far better analogue would be a wet sponge, but even this fails because the cells in a sponge are large enough to accept particles carried by the water…
Ember, I suppose I should mention that I never believed marinades penetrated much into meat in general even in a traditional sense. I’ve always felt a marinade is more used to break down the meat a bit. Really I think what you’re arguing is the efficiency of a marinade compared to other methods such as a brine in which case I’d be inclined to agree with you. Whilst I’m more interested in the time it takes to achieve the same result for a marinade for traditional vs vacuum for both penetration and tenderness.
You’re article does offer some interesting links I’ll be looking into though so definitely thank-you for that!
Ahhhh… I knew I had a bookmarked article on why pressure marination doesn’t work. Finally found it. (No. I wasn’t searching for 10 days. I just lucked on it today while looking for something else.)