Tenderising meat makes tough cuts more palatable. Physical methods for tenderising meat include pounding it with a meat mallet or cooking it. Chemical methods include using a commercially prepared meat tenderizer or another type of additive, such as a marinade, to make the meat easier to cut and chew. Science projects can be devised to explore the process of tenderising meat.
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Types of Tenderizers
Test the different methods of meat tenderising on one piece of raw meat that has been cut into five equal pieces. Sprinkle commercial meat tenderizer granules from the spice section of your grocery store on the first sample, an acid-based marinade on the second, physically pound the third sample with a wooden meat mallet, add a slice of pineapple on top of the fourth sample and use nothing on the last piece as a control. Cover each of the samples with cling film and leave them overnight. The next day, examine the samples and cut each with a knife, rating how easily it can be cut.
How and Whys
Research how meat tenderizers work. What are the ingredients in a commercial meat tenderizer that break down the meat and make it easier to chew? Look at the different means of tenderising meat: chemical and physical. Compare and contrast how these methods are alike or different. Does cooking play a role in tenderising meat? Display your findings on a poster or in a written essay.
Study the ingredients of different brands of meat tenderizer. Note which ingredients are similar and different in each brand. How does each of the ingredients in the products act to tenderise the meat? Make a chart showing the differences and similarities between the brands you studied.
Examine the role cooking plays in tenderising meat. Do different cooking methods determine how tender the cooked meat will be? Will the same cut of meat cooked in a slow cooker be as tender as if it were grilled on a barbecue or seared in a skillet? Test different cooking methods with meat cuts of similar size and type and stop cooking as soon as the meat reaches 71.1 degrees Celsius. This will ensure that all of the meat cuts were cooked to the same degree of doneness. Take note whether cooking methods with added liquid, such as braising, make meat more tender than dry cooking methods, such as roasting.
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