Marinating pork before cooking it is a great way to infuse it with different flavors as well as tenderize the flesh.
But how long can you marinate pork? Marinate pork for at least 30 minutes to an hour before cooking it. The longest you should leave pork meat in the marinade is 48 hours though tougher cuts of pork may be safely kept in the marinating liquid for up to 4 days.
In this article, you will learn why it makes sense to marinate pork, how to do it, for how long, if you can freeze marinated pork, and much more!
Why Should You Marinate Pork?
Some people consider marinating meat to be a waste of time. While in some cases you can skip this step, marinating meat is always a good idea. Though it should be noted that you should know how to do it right too.
Pork, similar to other types of meat, benefits from marinades. First off, marinades make the flavor of the meat a lot richer. While marinades do not penetrate the meat very far, they can improve the flavor of the meat significantly.
The second and most important reason why you should marinate pork before cooking is that marinades improve the texture of the meat too.
Lean cuts of meat become a lot more tender when you soak them in marinades that contain acidic ingredients. These include lemon juice, vinegar, and wine.
Marinades can also introduce more moisture into dry cuts of pork, making them juicier.
Lastly, marinades allow you to get creative. You can cook the same cuts of pork over and over again.
Making different marinades each time helps you achieve different flavors. So, pork will never get boring even if you are using the same cooking method every time.
So, if you have always avoided the extra work with your pork cuts, try marinating them next time and you will surely feel the difference.
Which Cuts Of Pork Are Best For Marinating?
Marinating is an important preparation step especially for the tougher cuts of pork, such as pork butt and shoulder.
However, there are cuts of pork that are very tough, and marinating them may not always be helpful. These cuts include ham hocks and pig feet.
To make these cuts palatable and tender, long and slow cooking is required. So, don’t spend time marinating these cuts. Simply cook them as long as needed.
As for the tender cuts of pork, such as pork loin, tenderloin, ribs, and belly, you don’t have to them just because these cuts are tender enough in and of themselves if cooked right.
But these cuts absorb marinade flavors really well. Thus, if you have time, we do recommend making some kind of marinade for them. You won’t need to marinate these cuts for too long.
How To Marinate Pork? – Things You Should Know
There is nothing complicated involved in marinating meat. Nonetheless, there are certain things you should know about marinating meat.
Here’s how to marinate pork, or any meat you are working with at the moment.
- Start with choosing a proper marinating container. It is best to use glass or food-safe plastic containers for marinating meat (we’d recommend these ones). Avoid using metal containers as acidic ingredients in the marinade may interact with them.
- Mix the marinade ingredients. If the container you are using is not convenient for mixing the ingredients, do it in a bowl and then pour the marinade into the container.
- Place the pork cuts into the marinade and give them a good rub.
- Cover the container and place it in the fridge. It is essential to choose a container with a tight-fitting lid. Firstly, it will protect the meat from contact with air and quick deterioration. Secondly, the lid will prevent the meat and marinade smells from spreading in the fridge. Never marinate meat at room temperature.
- If you are going for a picnic, make sure to keep the marinated pork in a portable refrigerator.
- Lastly, never reuse pork marinade. You may be tempted to reuse the marinade left behind. Never do it. You can always make extra marinade if you like. Making a new batch of marinade isn’t all that hard and time-consuming.
Some marinades are good as sauces for cooked meat too. However, it is crucial to remember that marinade that has been in contact with raw pork should never be used for cooked pork.
Used marinades coming in contact with cooked food are a potential cause of cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses.
How Long Should You Marinate Pork?
As pork is denser than chicken or seafood, its marinating time largely differs from the marinating time of lighter meats.
But as you don’t always have time to marinate the meat before cooking it, it is good to know what the minimum amount of time is to marinate pork.
We recommend you marinate pork before cooking for at least 30-60 minutes.
As for the maximum marinating time for pork, we would recommend aiming for 24-48 hours. While you can leave the pork in the marinade for up to 4 days, there is no point in doing it.
Leave pork in the marinade for longer than 48 hours if you have already marinated the meat but don’t need to cook it yet.
With all this being said, the tougher is the cut of pork you are marinating the more it will benefit from sitting longer in the marinating liquid.
This way the marinade has time to penetrate as deep as possible into the meat and the connective tissues.
What Happens If You Marinate Pork For Too Long?
Giving meat enough time to soak up the marinade flavors is important. But you shouldn’t leave pork in the marinade for too long.
As noted above, the maximum time to marinate pork is 4 days. Leaving pork longer in the marinade is not recommended for two reasons.
First, you shouldn’t keep pork in the fridge longer than that anyway. If you have had pork in marinade for longer than 4 days, chances are it has already gone bad.
And second, as dense as it may be, pork may become off-putting and mushy as a result of sitting for too long in acidic liquids. Avoid over-marinating pork especially if you are working with tender cuts.
Can You Freeze Marinated Pork?
You can freeze marinated pork whether it is store-bought or you have marinated the meat yourself.
So long as the pork and the products used for marinating it are within their use-by dates, it is completely safe to freeze marinated pork.
For best results, here are a few things we recommend you do. Firstly, it is good to freeze the meat immediately after marinating it. The meat will have time to absorb the flavors in the marinade when you defrost it later.
Secondly, if your pork cuts aren’t too big, freeze them in zip-top bags. And lastly, we recommend you use your marinated frozen pork within 3 months or as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture.
3 Marinating Tips For Pork
Now that you know how long you should marinate pork, here are a few marinating tips you can use for better results.
1. Marinate In Zip-Top Bags If You Have Little Time
Marinating meat in zip-top bags is a good idea.
Make sure the bags seal well and you remove all the excess air out of them, this way the marinade will penetrate the meat better and quicker as you get the most contact between the meat and the marinade.
So, if you have little time for marinating your pork, do it in a zip-top bag rather than in a container.
2. Use Leftover Marinade To Baste The Pork
Basting meat refers to moistening the meat while cooking it with the juices accumulated in the pan, melted butter, and various sauces.
You can also use the marinade you have made to baste the pork. Doing this will help you keep the pork moist while also adding extra flavor to it.
If you decide to do this, make sure you are using the extra marinade you have and not the liquid that has already been in contact with the raw meat.
If you don’t have leftover marinade but still want to baste the pork, you should bring the leftover marinating liquid to a boil.
Doing this will kill the germs from the raw meat. Once you have boiled the marinade, you can safely use it to baste the meat.
3. Experiment With You Marinades
One of the best tips we can give you for marinating pork is to never stop trying new marinade recipes. There are numerous flavor combinations to try out.
Some of the best pork marinade ideas include BBQ marinade, Asian-style marinade, pineapple and ginger marinade, and a mustard marinade!
One of our favorite pork marinades is covered in this video from the folks over at Binging With Babish! Make sure to check it out!
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