This is a membership forum. As a guest, you can click around a bit. View 5 pages for free. If you are a member you must log in now. If you would like to participate, please join.

[ Pitmaster Club Information | Join Now | Login | Contact Us ]

There are 4 page views remaining.


No announcement yet.

No Oil In Marinades

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    No Oil In Marinades

    I have been running tests lately and I have discovered much to my chagrin, that most herbs and spices dissolv e better in water than oil. In the past I have advocated using oils with rubs to dissolve them, but that appears to be wrong. I will be going into the recipes and changing them soon. In addition, I have been challenged so many times when I say that oils in marinades don't penetrate meat that I did a simple experiment.
    Remember, meat is 75% water and oil and water don't mix. Here's proof that oil will not penetrate meat. In the image below, I dug a hole in a beef steak anout thimble size and filled it with a nic e greenish olive oil. I took the top picture 33 seconds after pouring in the oil. The bottom picture was after 3 hours, 9 minutes, and 58 seconds. As you can see, not a scintilla of oil penetrated.

    Click here for more on marinades and busting myths about them

    I will re-do this experiment and get better photography.


      Meathead, in your article on marinades linked above, it states that alcohol isn't desired or necessary. But in your Char Siu ribs recipe you state that adding bourbon or brandy helps the flavors penetrate. Time for an edit?


      • Meathead
        Meathead commented
        Editing a comment
        Certainly time for deeper investigation. As I say "Don't skip the booze. It helps penetrate, and even if you're a teetotaler, don't worry, there isn't any measurable alcohol in the meat. Yes, I know alcohol can dry meat out, but I just think it works well in this case. If you must skip it, use apple juice or water, but booze is better." What I think happens is the booze is tenderizing or maybe opening pores? In either case, it doesn't penetrate very far.

      I like it, I think a nice cut for a cross section would seal the deal.


        I can remember watching an episode of BBQ Pitmasters, and David Bouska put a little water on his ribs before applying his rub.


          Meathead when you're making the edits I think it'd be a nice value add to briefly mention what effect water/mustard/oil/etc... will have in regards to the pH balance of the marinade and the resulting smoke ring.


          Myron Mixon uses bottled water to rub on the meat, before applying the rub to a whole hog. Not sure about the other stuff. Just the one video I happen to catch.



            So I will be making a marinade later this week that uses equal parts of Soy Sauce & Vegetable Oil. Spices include Chili Pwd, Cumin, Cayenne. Should I skip the oil and substitute water? or use more Soy? I'm marinating Sirloin Flap, and it only sits in the marinade for about an hour.

            Thanks in advance!

            -- Ed


            • Meathead
              Meathead commented
              Editing a comment
              Clearly the oil does nothing. Water or nothing.

            Very interesting, I am curious as to why water works better than oil does?


            • Meathead
              Meathead commented
              Editing a comment
              Water dissolves spices and herbs, but neither the spices or herbs or water penetrate. As I explain, marinades only get into cracks and pores and penetrate very little. they are really a surface treatment. Click my link and read the article.

            • Spinaker
              Spinaker commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks Meathead, headed there now.

            All of this is very interesting. I think I'll try sprinkling some water as discussed above prior to the rubbing ribs, briskets, etc. I need to do more reading of MH's article and the associated discussion. For now, I'll throw this out... from America's Test Kitchen.

            Keep in mind they are talking about dissolving spices, not penetrating meat. I'll definitely go with MH's experiments here, and mebbe conduct some of my own - LOL!

            -- Ed

            While developing the recipe for Chicken alla Diavola, we were curious as to why we weren't able to extract much flavor from either ground black pepper or red pepper flakes when they were added to a brine or room-temperature marinade. We were further intrigued when their flavor blossomed, becoming deep and fragrant, after being briefly steeped in warm oil. After some research, we learned that it's simply a matter of solubility.

            The essential oils in both black pepper and red pepper flakes are oil-soluble as opposed to water-soluble. This means that they dissolve in oil rather than water. As they dissolve, their flavorful essential oils are released from a solid state into solution form, where they mix and interact, thereby producing a more complex flavor. Like most substances, these essential oils dissolve faster and to a greater extent in a hot solvent (in this case, olive oil) than in a cold solvent.

            However, if the oil is too hot, the spices can scorch. We prepared five batches of marinade, bringing them to temperatures of 150, 200, 250, 300, and 400 degrees. The differences were dramatic. The 150-degree batch tasted flat and boring, while the marinades brought to 250, 300, and 400 degrees tasted increasingly burnt. When heated to 200 degrees, however, the marinade tasted perfectly spicy and well rounded.

            Other oil-soluble spices include:

            Almond oil
            Anise Seed
            Celery Seed
            Nutmeg oil
            Bay Leaf
            Black pepper
            Caraway oil
            Cardamom seed oil


              But spices do not penetrate neither.
              When I use oil in marinades I'm not looking for it to penetrate, I want it to waken up the spices.
              When I have time I place the spices in oil and warm that mess. Use the "infused" oil in marinades.


              • Jerod Broussard
                Jerod Broussard commented
                Editing a comment
                "Wake up a little spicey, Well, what are we gonna tell your mama? What are we gonna tell your pa? What are we gonna tell the other spices when they say ooh-la-la," Wake up little spicey, wake up little spicey....

                Loooong day work, read this this morning EARLY....hence the long day....

              • Medusa
                Medusa commented
                Editing a comment
                I think "waking up the spices is exactly" what the article from ATK is talking about. Haven't tried heating oil yet, but do have a pork loin that I'll sprinkle some water on before rubbing.

              Its got me thinking. Meat is muscle. Muscle is made up from very long cells. Cells are bags filled with water (cytosol), proteins, and lipid (fat) membrane organelles. Cells are surrounded by phospholipid membranes, with proteins and sugars interspersed. Also, cells sit in a matrix of varous moelcules in water. Someone (not me) should make a molecular model of this....


                do it! I need a new avatar...


                  What about oil extraction from dry herbs (such as in S&G rub)? Do you still stand by using an oil prior to dry herbs to bring out their natural oils?


                    Originally posted by W.A. View Post
                    Its got me thinking. Meat is muscle. Muscle is made up from very long cells. Cells are bags filled with water (cytosol), proteins, and lipid (fat) membrane organelles. Cells are surrounded by phospholipid membranes, with proteins and sugars interspersed. Also, cells sit in a matrix of varous moelcules in water. Someone (not me) should make a molecular model of this....
                    Further to the biology of cellular construction, water is used across the cell membrane against their concentration gradients, for a number of reasons one is to maintain a neutral Ph (alkaline/acidic). When you brine (acidic) meat the sodium (salt) draws more water from the cells (osmosis) in reaction to the imbalance in Ph (neutral-7), that is why a water based injection (alkaline) would be more appropriate after brining as the water transfer would work in the opposite direction.

                    So it would make sense that a paste with water as it's binding medium would allow the flavour molecules to attach themselves to the water molecules and pass thru the cellular membrane increasing the flavour profile in the meat and also retaining moisture during cooking and relaxed distribution will resting. External rubs and marinades would only be suitable if they are an alkaline mixture and that the crust/bark is kept moist with a mob or spritz during the first few hours of smoking.
                    Please don't take this as scientifically accurate just trying to apply something I learnt at school for once! But appears sound logic.


                    • Papa Bob
                      Papa Bob commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Yea I thought the same thing lol but I have been under the impression buy Dr. blonder and other research (I only say that to sound smart like the rest of you all) that salt molecules are the only ones that get small enough to penetrate the cell wall of most proteins fish not included

                    • Dr ROK
                      Dr ROK commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Your logic would work if the flavor molecules were as small as water molecules, but from everything I've read from MH, the flavor molecules are too large to pass through the cell membrane.


                  No announcement yet.


                  These are not paid ads, they are a curated selection of products we love.

                  All of the products below have been tested and are highly recommended. Click here to read more about our review process.

                  Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

                  Many merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click our “buy now” links. This has zero impact on the price you pay but helps support the site.

                  Big. Bold. Flavor.

                  Meathead's Amazing rubs and sauce

                  Introduce big, bold flavor to your BBQ and grilling creations thanks to the Meathead’s Amazing line of pork, red meat, and poultry rubs as well as a KC-style BBQ sauce. Click here to read more and to purchase.

                  BBQ And Grilling Gifts For Every Occasion

                  Looking for the perfect gift for the BBQ and grilling enthusiasts in your life? Here’s our suggestion for platinum and gold medal-winning products at a variety of price points. Click here to see our list of Gold Medal Gifts.

                  Groundbreaking Hybrid Thermometer!

                  Thermapen One Instant Read Thermometer

                  The FireBoard Spark is a hybrid combining instant-read capability, a cabled temperature probe, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Couple that with high standards of design and workmanship and it’s a “must own.” Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review.

                  The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy

                  The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It’s among the best bargains for a smoker in the world. This baby cooks circles around cheap offset smokers because temperature control is so much easier. Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.