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Apr 13, 2012 12:54 AM

Marinade with acid -- how long?

Going camping and planning to make kebabs! I'm trying to decide what marinades to use on my chicken, shrimp, and veggies and from looking at recipes online, nearly all of them have lemon juice or red wine vinegar in them. I'm a little concerned that if I start marinating them tomorrow night, when we leave, and don't grill them to the night after, the acid will break down the meat and make it mushy. Is it okay to leave meat in an acidic marinade for 24 hours? In addition, should the shrimp be marinated less lengthily than the chicken?

I could put the marinade in bottles and do it the morning of to reduce the amount of time, but would rather be able to just do everything tomorrow night before leaving.

thank you!

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  1. In my experience, I have not noticed that a 24 hour acidic marination in the refrigerator made the meat mushy, but I am not an expert in this area, so I would like to hear what others have to say. I have noticed more of a trouble of the basic method of using baking soda, which can easily over-tenderize the meat.

    If you really worry about over-tenderize the meat with acid, then another way is to use less.

    1. No expert here, but you might want to consider using lemon zest instead of the juice, as in this recipe.

      1. I say you can safely use the acidic marinade with the meats, but I wouldn't leave them to marinate more than a day or two. The shrimp are a different matter. The acid (usually a citrus juice) will "cook" them (and all seafood) if they're left more than 30 minutes...

        7 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          This is my experience, too. I wouldn't want the meat marinated longer than 24 hours, but I find it's often best if marinated that long or close to it.

          1. re: Gio

            Ditto. We frequently marinate beef and chicken for 1-2 days with no discernible effects.

            1. re: ferret

              You mean no *bad* effects, right? Otherwise, what a waste of marinade. ;-)

            2. re: Gio

              Thanks all! I think I will do the chicken in a 24hr marinade with some but not too much lemon juice, while I'll only use zest/olive oil/spices on the shrimp but squirt in a little lemon juice right before cooking it.

              1. re: betterbeheaven

                I use a Nigella Lawson recipe for chicken that instructs 24 hours marinating and it has plenty of acid, white wine, lemon juice included. I also use Walkers Wood jerk marinade for a minimum of 24 hours on chicken... there is nothing but more flavor and moisture that comes from it. Only caveat I would have would be for thin steaks.... the outer border can get a little acid "cooked." Nothing bad, just a bit less attractive. I marinate flank and skirt steaks 24 hours routinely.

                1. re: betterbeheaven

                  I wouldn't do the shrimp until the 15-30 minutes before cooking.

                  1. re: mcf

                    Not do the lemon juice until 15-30mins prior, or anything at all?