What Juices Tenderize Steak?

Written by athena hessong Google
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  • Introduction

    What Juices Tenderize Steak?

    Marinating a steak with a fruit juice concoction not only adds flavour, but it also tenderises the meat; however, not all juices work equally well for tenderising meat. Juices with tenderising enzymes and those high in acid work best for tenderising. For best results, choose a juice to complement the other flavours of your steak's marinade while tenderising it.

    Juices play dual roles in steak marinades as flavour enhancers and tenderizers. (Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

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    Papaya juice contains an enzyme called papain. This natural enzyme is used in commercial meat tenderising products, but those do not add a tropical touch to the steak when used in a marinade. Add papaya juice or mashed papaya to marinades to take advantage of the enzyme to tenderise your meat. The natural sweetness of the papaya juice will also foil the savoriness of the steak.

    Papayas are bright, tropical fruits with a sweet flesh. (PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

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    Pineapple juice contains both acids and enzymes to tenderise steak. Fully ripened pineapples contain about 2 per cent acid, based on the variety. This acid helps the marinade to penetrate the meat and get deeper into the steak tissue. Bromelain is an enzyme in pineapple that breaks down protein. Add a splash of pineapple juice to a steak marinade for a tropical flavour to make use of the enzyme and the acid.

    Pineapple juice is both a sweet and tangy tenderising juice. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

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    The enzyme in figs that breaks down protein and tenderises steak is called ficin. For this to tenderise meat, the juice must directly touch the portion of the meat it will tenderise. No matter how long the meat is soaked in a marinade, it will not tenderise the piece all the way to the centre, only the surface. Fresh fig juice is not easy to find, but purée some fresh figs or dried figs that have been soaked with their soaking juices and strain off the solids for a homemade fig juice to marinate steak.

    Figs will add a super-sweet flavour to a marinade without the need for extra sugar. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

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    Citrus Juices

    Acids do not tenderise as well as enzymes, but they do begin to unravel proteins in the meat in a process called denaturing. This softens the texture of the meat and changes the proteins in the meat to resemble cooked meat. Some thin, lean cuts in ceviche recipes, such as fish, are cooked using acid alone and not heat. The high acidity of citrus juices makes them ideal for use in steak marinades. Lemon juice, lime juice and orange juice all appear in recipes for steak marinades to tenderise the meat and add flavour.

    Your morning orange juice has culinary uses, too. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

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