Marinating your poultry, meats and vegetables before cooking (or grilling) is a great way bring out the flavor of foods, as well as add the extra flavor provided by the marinade itself.  The following tips will help you get the most out of your marinade.

Ideal Marinating Times

Different foods require different marinating times, since each has a different density and ability to absorb the marinade. The marinade and food should be placed in a bowl or shallow pan, covered, and placed in the refigerator.

Food Ideal Marination Time
Fish/Seafood 15 minutes to 1 hour
Poultry (chicken,turkey...etc) 1/2 hour to 3 hours
Red meat (beef, lamb..etc) Overnight
Vegetables 1/2 hour

Make Your Marinade Penetrate
  • For fish, meats or poultry, remove any layers of fat and skin. It's better to have the marinade in the meat and not the parts you don't eat!
  • Do not poke holes in meat before marinating. This actually drains out the juices.
  • Don't use very thick marinades, since these don't penetrate the food very well.
  • Be sure to cover the food completely with the marinade. Occasionally turn the food while marinating to ensure a full coat.
Marinate Safely
  • Never reuse marinade for a different recipe. Marinades in contact with raw items (especially meat) can contaminate other foods, possibly causing food poisoning.  If using left over marinade as a baste while grilling, be sure to use the last of the marinade at least several minutes before you're done grilling (on both sides) to allow it to cook and kill off any harmful bacteria. Boilling the marinade for a few minutes before using can also kill bacteria.
  • Do not use metal containers. Acidic ingredients in marinade (i.e. vinegar, lemon juice) can react with the metal.  This not only introduces an unpleasant taste, but increases the risk of food poisoning. Ideally, use plastic, glass or ceramic containers, covered with plastic wrap.