Acid-based marinades both tenderize and flavor many different types of foods, not just meats and seafood. Acids such as citrus juices, pineapple, yogurt, buttermilk, and wine tenderize by denaturing or unwinding protein strings. They also lend flavor to the end product. According to author Shirley Corriher, marinades containing oils with emulsifiers mono- and diglyceride (check the labels) penetrate deeper and faster. Extra-virgin olive oil naturally contains monoglycerides and is a good choice for marinades.
Marinate for Flavor
Dry marinades or rubs are used to enhance the flavor as opposed to tenderize, although some may have some beneficial tenderizing side effects. This type is usually a mixture of herbs and spices, sometimes mixed with an oil, which is rubbed into the meat, poultry, and seafood. Those recipes using dry rubs usually specify a grill, pan-fry or broil cooking method.
Nature gives us many tenderizers to choose from, both enzymatic and acidic. When using an acid-based marinade, be sure to use only containers made of glass, ceramic or stainless-steel, never aluminum. The chemical reaction produced between alkaline and aluminum not only imparts an unattractive discoloration to the food but can also darken and pit the aluminum container. Many marinades will include one of the following along with various herbs and spices: