For centuries, cultures around the world have used marinating and brining to add flavor and moisture to different kinds of meat. Nowadays, as the popularity of meat injectors rises, many home cooks find themselves wondering how exactly these two traditional methods differ from the use of a meat injector and whether a meat injector has any real advantages.
To answer these common questions and help you discover whether it makes sense to invest in one of the top meat injectors on the market, we will take a look at all three options and explain why today so many cooks and chefs give preference to meat injectors.
A marinade is a savory flavoring solution that usually contains acidic or enzymatic components that can tenderize meat to some extent. When marinating meat, you soak it in a marinade and keep it in the fridge anywhere between 30 minutes and upwards of 24 hours, depending on the type of meat and dish you are cooking. Poultry can be marinated for 2 days at most while denser meats may remain in a marinade for up to 5 days – although with significant changes in texture.
Marinating has several drawbacks. First, it may take quite a while, with many recipes requiring meat to be marinated overnight or for 12+ hours. Second, it requires you to take multiple precautions to ensure food safety.
You need to make sure that you marinate meat in the fridge, as room temperature promotes bacteria growth. You also need to use an adequate container, made of plastic – or even better, glass. Metal containers can react with the acid in the marinade, thus causing food contamination.
Finally, marinating is not as simple and fail-proof as some may believe. If marinated for too long, meat can become mushy or tough, depending on meat and marinade type. If the marinating period is too short, the effects of the process can be virtually unnoticeable. Likewise, if the cut is not thin, it is likely to remain bland on the inside, as the marinade may not reach the center of the cut.
Brining is a process similar to marinating and it is normally used for poultry. You can brine meat using a solution of salt in water or you can opt for dry brining, using salt only. Like in the case of marinating, meat soaked in brine or covered in coarse salt is kept in a plastic container in the fridge. Unlike with marinating, brining is usually applied to a whole bird, although it is possible to brine individual cuts.
In the standard scenario when a whole turkey or chicken is brined, you need a lot of room in the fridge to store the meat in a large container. Keeping it at room temperature comes with significant health risks. It also takes longer for brining to take full effect, sometimes up to 2 days. Again, optimal flavoring results are not guaranteed, as the effects depend on the brining period, the brine type, and the size of the bird or cut. In other words, brining comes with disadvantages similar to those associated with marinating.
The traditional methods of brining and marinating are undeniably imperfect and that is exactly why meat injectors were created. These useful tools come in the form of a syringe or a gun and they allow you to easily inject the marinade into any kind of meat in a matter of minutes.
The long and sharp needles of a meat injector effortlessly penetrate both soft and tough meat and make it possible for the marinade to instantly reach the center of the cut. The whole injection process can take mere seconds, as all you need to do is insert the needle into the meat and push the plunger. Depending on the size of the cut, you can insert the needle at different angles, thus evenly distributing the marinade all across the cut.
In contrast to marinating and brining, injection is a fast process that does not require you to wait for hours or days before cooking. After injecting the marinade, you can wait for up to an hour or cook straight away, without any delays. That also means that the risk of food contamination is reduced to a minimum since the meat does not sit in a container for a prolonged period of time.
The amount of marinade used with meat injectors is much smaller than with classic marinating or brining, as you inject it directly into the flesh, so you do not have to deal with large amounts of leftover marinade that normally goes to waste.
Plus, with a meat injector, you do not have to worry about the flavor remaining close to the surface, as you marinate the meat from the inside and take full control over the marinade distribution process. Thus, it is perfectly easy to achieve perfect results.
In comparison to marinating and brining, injection is quicker, simpler, and more effective. Plus, it does not come with the health risks associated with keeping meat in a marinade or brine for many hours. It saves time and allows even absolute beginners to cook flavorful, juicy meat without much effort. That is why it is now used not only by professional chefs but numerous meat lovers around the globe.