also known as marinating, is the process of soaking foods
in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking. The origins
of the word allude to the use of brine (aqua marina) in
the pickling process, which led to the technique of adding
flavor by immersion in liquid. The liquid in question, the
'marinade', is often a vinegar (or other acidic liquid such as
lemon juice or wine) and oil mixture. It can also contain herbs
It is commonly used to flavor
foods and to tenderize tougher cuts of meat or harder vegetables
such as beetroot, eggplant, and zucchini. The process may last
seconds or days. Different marinades are used in different
cuisines. In Indian cuisine the marinade is usually prepared
with yogurt and spices.
In meats, the acid causes the
tissue to break down, allowing more moisture to be absorbed and
giving a juicier end product. However, too much acid can be
detrimental to the end product. A good marinade will have a
delicate balance of spices, acid and oil.
Often confused with marinating,
"macerating" is also a form of food preparation. Often
soft vegetables, legumes or fruits are used and are also coated
in a liquid. This process, again, makes the food tastier and
easier to chew and digest.