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Feb 9, 2008 10:04 AM

quick vacuum marinating

Does anyone do this?

are you satisfied with the results?
any secrets or thoughts on the technique?

this is a technique i come back to every few years, and was just wondering what other CH's thought about it.

I just mixed some miso, ginger,garlic,sake, mirin, and water together, stuck a pork chop in the vacuum marinator and pumped away

as the way this works, from my understanding, is once u pull the air out of the protein, something needs to fill the spaces when u release the vacuum, so the juice rushes in, when u squeeze out a sponge and then release it underwater, i released the vacuum, and then pumped it again, so the inner meat would sit in the marinade too....

do you think that step makes any difference?

I'll report tonight or tomorrow on how it tasted

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  1. I don't do this as I have an older Foodsaver which doesn't seal wet edges as well as the new model.
    And I have lots of FS bags that lose their seal in the freezer. Newer might be better, but I would have to hear a lot of positive reports first.

    16 Replies
    1. re: jayt90

      i wasn't using a bag, but a container

      1. re: jayt90

        Just bought a "Foodsaver" brand, my third vacuum machine, I think (a no-name, and a Black & Decker). I wanted to try the container, and marinating some blade steaks. As well, I want to see if this unit seals any better than my B&D. Generally what I have been doing is after I seal an item, I run an electric iron (wax paper in between) over the seal, or between the machine seal and the end of the bag. I have gotten some long lasting seals this way. I will post a report on my success, or not, of spending yet another $150.00 on this latest toy.

        1. re: steveharper

          I spoke to a big-time grilling guy that uses a $200 Reveo marinade tumbler, which puts meat in a vacuum, then spins it on a rock tumbler to give a faster marinade, before grilling. (It was a gift from his wife, to get him to spend less time cooking)

          Once, he forgot to first form a vacuum with the cannister, then spun the meat for the usual 20-60 minutes on the machine. Surprise-The food was just as nicely marinated as before, when he used the vacuum!

          He realized it's not the vacuum that does the trick, it's the constant agitation in a slowly revolving drum.

          To be sure, He tried the experiment again and again. With and without vacuum. He sliced open the meat after marinade, but before cooking, and found the marinade penetrated the same distance into the meat, whether the vacuum was on or off! He's since stopped applying the vacuum to his Reveo. While the maker of Reveo advertises that the vacuum somehow "opens up meat pores", that doesn't hold water (or marinade), as the meat doesn't have air spaces or pores to breathe.

          I tried putting my steak and marinade in just a vacuum emptied Foodsaver bag, and again, the vacuum alone didn't do much for the marinade. I also do a double seal on my FS bags, as sometimes they lose their seal with just one sealing.

          People have been using rock tumblers for marinading for years, at home and commercially. No need for the vacuum. Wanna try it? Buy a $30-60 rock tumbler, put in marinade and meat or veggies, and have your marinade done in 20-40 minutes. Faster than taking 12-24 hours sitting in the fridge, and way less expensive than a $200 Reveo, (or the competing $89 Marinade Master Tumbler, and others) once you realize the constant agitation and stirring, just like a washing machine, is what bends the meat and opens the fibers to marinade, not the silly vacuum!

          Don't want to tumble? Just make quite a few 1/8" shallow, long knife slices in your steak, bend the meat to get marinade in the crevices, and marinade howerver you please.

          1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

            Very interesting! A rock tumbler . . . I never would have thought of that, even thought that used to be a hobby of mine - with rocks, not meat! I recently read an entry on a blog about fajita meat and they were saying that the best was the meat that had been in motion constantly to get the marinade in there. This is just a piece of the article about it:

            "Savell and Griffin said it's not that simple. When you marinate meat at home, you are lucky to get a 2 percent "take-up rate," as the measure of absorption is known in the biz. To increase the take-up rate, commercial meat packers do their marinating in a commercial vacuum tumbler. Mechanically tumbling the meat and the marinade in a rotating vacuum container with paddles breaks up and stretches out the protein fibers, increasing the meat's ability to absorb the liquid."

            They go on to say that it only takes 20 minutes of tumbling. Who would think your fajita meat had been tumbled? Amazing.

            And BTW - the article was mainly about fajita meat. It's a long article or I would put a link for it.

            1. re: danhole

              Wonder if you could put the meat in a big plastic baggie and tumble it in your clothes dryer.....

              1. re: greygarious

                Sounds pretty risky to me, grey - unless you like to marinate your laundry! ;-)

            2. re: An Insatiable Appetite

              "as the meat doesn't have air spaces or pores to breathe."

              this is, of course, completely untrue.

              especially as the way the vacuum thang is supposed to work is by sucking fluid and air from out of those very spaces, adn the marinade gets in when you release the seal, and the now empty spaces suck the liquid up like a sponge

              1. re: thew


                I welcome your opinion. It's great to quote what the manufacturer says, as you do, and be so convinced, and allege someone else to be untrue. Madoff said he had a better way to invest , and for over 20 years, many smart people believed him. Whether it's Reveo's claims for vacuum and pores, or Madoff's claims for 12% yearly returns, the proof is in the pudding, er marinade.

                I have a machine that marinated in less time, by only using rare earth magnets and a gold plated tumbler. Do you believe the magnets theory , the vacuum theory, or will you do the experiment yourself, and prove or disprove any theory, yourself?

                . Show me the beef, er the anatomy and physiology of muscle that has these advertising "pores" you are so certain exist. This is in my area of study, with microscope, and you will turn veterinary medicine on it's head with such proof of such "pores".

                Here's an article (below), not from me, not from the tumbler's writer, but from the USDA, that did the research, and found that the vacuum or pressure is not what does the fast marinade. It's the agitation, much as if it were in Greygarious's clothes dryer! (I hope you don't tumble your steaks in with the whites!)


                It says "Vacuum pressure during tumbling was no better than a lack of pressure (other than normal atmospheric pressure) or the opposite of vacuum, positive pressure. "

                For years, commercial marinades have been made in huge tumblers that hold hundreds of pounds of meat at a time. Some have vacuums, many don't. The better sales pitch wins. I'd love to see an unbiased article that can show if any more marinade is taken up at vacuum than at ambient pressure, without the tumbling in either situation. Sorry, the article has to come from someone who is independent of the vacuum sellers!

                Danhole, you are right about the low "take up rate" for meat pretty much sitting in a bag in a refrigerator at home. The tumbling is what greatly increases the rate of take up, maybe even 10 fold. I'd like to see the proof that vacuuming while tumbling, really makes any difference over not vacuuming while tumbling.

                The grill guy who told me about his experiment is on to the ONLY way to tell. I wish he published photos of his experiment.

                Bottom line, if you or I had one of the vacuum tumblers, either of us could do the experiment and see if vacuum has any effect. Till then, unlike you, I'm open minded as to what's true and untrue.

                1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                  Here's another article, more recent, which notes that before people have disagreed on vacuum's importance.
                  The scientists do the experiments to see what is vacuum's effect, and also the effect of adding phosphates:.


                  The authors start out by noting: "Equipment manufacturers’
                  advertising materials tout the efficacy of vacuum marination
                  in hastening marination and promoting greater
                  marinade retention compare with marination at ambient
                  atmospheric pressure, but rigorous peer-reviewed studies are not readily available in the scientific literature. The
                  objective of this study was to evaluate effects of vacuum
                  on moisture retention and quality characteristics of marinated
                  chicken breast fillets."

                  The describe thier experimental methods. The last line, the summary states: "Nevertheless, the
                  conclusion drawn from this study must be that under the
                  conditions applied here, use of vacuum during marination
                  offered no real advantage in terms of yield or
                  texture of the final product."

                  1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                    i'm not saying anything about tumbling v vacuuming.(note i used the word "supposed" in my post)

                    i'm saying that meat is not one solid block with no airspaces in it. if it were there would be no grain in meat.

                    1. re: thew

                      I have been tempted to buy the vacuum marinade container from Foodsaver, but wanted an opinion from someone else. How satisfied are you with it, and is it worth the money? It is cheaper than a tumbler!

                      1. re: danhole

                        My older model makes seals that do not hold. I am so leery of it that I think I'll pass on the new improved models.

                        I can marinate effectively with a large Zip Lock freezer bag.

                        1. re: jayt90

                          Are you saying that the foodsaver doesn't make good seals, or the marinating container doesn't? My foodsaver is fairly new and it makes great seals. I really like it a lot, but I use it mainly for freezing food.For marinating I do what you do and use a ziploc bag. But still am curious about the marinating containers for the FS.

                          1. re: danhole

                            I don't have the marinating container.
                            There have been numerous complaints on these boards about the bags losing their seal even when double sealed.
                            The bags are expensive, and the problem seems to be getting a consistent seal across a broad area, up to 10-12".
                            There are other sealers using cheaper bags, and sealing a much smaller area, with greater reliability.

                            Before I replace my foodsaver, I am going to try the simple tumble method.
                            Food and marinade in a ziploc bag, then double bag it and place in the gentle fluff cycle of the dryer.
                            What convinced me was USDA tests with and without vacuum: a simple tumble for 20 minutes was just as effective in marinade penetration.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                Here it is. Tandoori marinade with yogurt, on a deeply scored chicken, double bagged and tossed in the dryer 20 minutes. Then slowly cooked in a covered charcoal fire (Weber).

                                I liked it, it is quick and expedient, but I prefer leaving a chicken or other meat and fish in the fridge for a day.

                                I would do this again if time was of the essence. And that is why big food corporations do the the toss method.

          2. On some thread or other, someone recommended putting a folded paper towel inside the bag just below the point where it will be sealed. This prevents any marinade from getting sucked out. Or, freeze cubes of marinade and put them in the bag with the meat before sealing. When cubes melt, mush the bag around so the meat is surrounded by it.

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