Marinades – Maximum solubility, maximum yields
Even seasoned suppliers will agree that, when trying to meet a customer’s desired flavour profile, selecting and blending flavouring ingredients pose challenges. We look at troubleshooting reasons and solutions.
Seasoning types for meat applications typically include spices, herbs, flavours, yeast extracts, salt and phosphates, and may include sweeteners, starches, soy proteins and hydrocolloids.
Added moisture in meat products is accompanied by added flavour loss because the natural flavour of the meat becomes diluted. To make up for this loss, meat flavours are often incorporated with marinades and flavouring solutions to increase meatiness. Autolysed yeast extracts, which provide meaty and salty notes, are often used synergistically with meat flavours.
Oven-roasting is a slow process that gives meats and poultry a rich aroma, but food processors do not have the time to cook meats in this manner. The fastest way to cook chicken is by using steam or a multi-purpose oven, but this method results in a very insipid product with no roasted nuances. Some cuts of meat, such as roast beef, are frequently water-cooked by processor, but, again, this technique does not permit the development of the flavours associated with oven-roasting.
Fat carries much of the flavour in meat, and once it is lowered or removed, it is necessary to boost the flavour with meaty and fatty notes by using meat flavours, which are available in liquid water-soluble, oil-soluble, dry (spray-dried and vacuum-dried)and paste form.
With non-meat flavours, getting certain aromas to come through in meat and poultry applications can be tricky, for example, coming up with a good honey aroma in chicken. The flavour components of honey tend to be volatile during cooking. If one puts real honey on the outside of a product, it tends to caramelise and burn. The solution lies in using molasses or other sweet flavours, which give the impression of honey flavour.
The use of sucrose in meat products is common, but somewhat limited because of its high degree of sweetness and browning effect. Bland, water-soluble products that provide solids and improved texture can be found in maltodextrins and corn syrup solids, but they offer reduced sweetness and browning.
Although dextrose is commonly used in meat formulations, too much of it in a formulation can cause excessive browning and sweetness, which can be controlled through the use of corn syrup solids, which modify texture, viscosity and sweetness, depending on the dextrose equivalent (DE).
Marinade addition by means of injection needles give rise to two chief considerations: solubility and appearance. Injection solutions necessitate very soluble systems to avoid clogged injection needles. In addition, unwanted effects such as “track marks” left on chicken after injection may occur when incorrect formulations are used.
Depending on the solution injected, gray or coloured streaks may appear on the meat, for instance, if a Cajun flavour with too much red pepper in it is used, a lot of red streaks throughout the meat will appear. But if a soluble, colourless capsicum is used, it would disperse and be less readily noticeable when the meat is cut.
For maximum solubility, using water-soluble oleoresins, liquid or spray-dried flavours and extracts is recommended. Ground spices or seasoning particles are usually steered clear of because they tend to obstruct injector needles.
Maximising the solubility of flavouring solutions is also important in vacuum-tumbled meats. Usually a combination of coarsely and finely ground spices is mixed for external appearance and internal flavour improvement.
When using injection systems in a product for higher yields, package purge can be a problem. Soluble carbohydrates can be included to increase solids, and water-binding agents such as starches, hydrocolloids and soy proteins can be used alone or in combination to help minimise purge.
Carrageenan can be used for injection systems and formed products where small pieces of meat are restructured in a brine. Carrageenan gives deli items a firmer, less soggy bite and presents a more eye-catching appearance.
Soy protein concentrates (SPCs) are added to injection solutions to improve product yield, boost tenderness and add juiciness. SPCs have a significant effect on the pH of meat systems because of their buffering capacity.
In a meat system where the pH is 6.0, as in poultry, an increase of even 0.1 to 0.2 pH units due to the inclusion of SPC could mean a considerable increase in the muscle’s ability to bind additional solutions and increase the water-holding capacity, allowing the muscles to retain more moisture.
Starches are chosen primarily on the basis of their gelatinisation (hydration) temperature for a specific meat application. A low gelatinisation temperature is the key to selecting a modified starch for use in most meat applications.
Marinades are one of the most popular ingredients for flavouring meats. Marinade flavour trends indicate that, over the last few years, there has been a change in the types of flavours that meat processors are willing to consider and consumers are willing to accept. This has led the industry to go from straightforward to rather intricate flavour systems.
Ethnic foods are definitely in, and authenticity is atop requirement. Consumers want to see true Mexican cuisine rather than the Westernised version.
Ethnic flavour trends include Thai, Caribbean, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Greek. Other popular essences include honey, orange, coconut ginger, garlic, and specific chilli pepper flavours.
In spite of the trend toward flavoured marinades, there will still be customers who just want a salt, water and phosphate marinade. In this instance, various chicken profiles may be added to these marinades.
The water-holding capacity of meat is of utmost importance in influencing its texture and flavour. Water-binding ability can be increased dramatically with only relatively small pH changes in uncooked meats. Ions of salts, such as sodium chloride and sodium phosphates, as well as pH, strongly affect the water-holding capacity of meats and are used extensively in commercial marinades.
Salt and phosphates are commonly used together for a synergistic effect on moisture and flavour retention. But although salts increase cooking yields on the alkaline side, they decrease yields in high-acid conditions. Below pH 5.0, the salt-soluble proteins become less soluble. For these reasons, the use of both sodium chloride and sodium phosphate should be curbed in high-acid (low pH) conditions, as in the case of marinades that contain vinegar or citrus juices.
When formulating acidic marinades, a spray-dried vinegar flavour may be used to replace either actual vinegar or synthetic vinegar powder in order to decrease the amount of acetic acid. Citric acid may be used at low levels to enhance marinades without significant pH reduction.
Rubs, in dry or in paste form, serve as exterior meat coating seasoning mixtures, and can provide added aesthetics, crunch and flavour. They are typically applied after injection and/or vacuum tumbling when the surface is sticky, or they may be added directly into the tumbler.
While rubs can be as simple as salt and pepper, they usually contain a combination of spices and seasonings, as well as carriers such as oil, flour and maltodextrin.
Rubs pose a challenge for food product designers because of their tendency to burn, which may leave a charred flavour instead of an enjoyable spiciness. Formulations with high tomato solids, such as barbecue rubs, also tend to burn under high heat. To avoid this problem, carbohydrates must be limited. Carriers such as low-DE maltodextrin, wheat and corn flour are used for even distribution of spice mixtures, while using encapsulated flavourings and spices help preserve the aromas.
Rotisserie chicken is a popular rub-enhanced item, but flavouring the chicken is not always easy. A combination of marinades, dry rubs and glazes can be used for maximum flavour impact and eye appeal.
It must be kept in mind that most of the flavour in rotisserie chicken comes from the injection marinade, not from the rub. Rubs used in rotisserie products are largely eye candy.
During cooking, the fats drip from the meat, taking with them most of the flavour.
Topically applied glazes give a distinguishing aroma and look to meats. Although liquid glazes are used most often, dry glazes are also employed. Maltodextrin’s film-forming properties are useful in glaze formulations.
A dry glaze usually contains flavours, seasonings, starches and gums that form a liquid glaze once they absorb the natural juices of the meat during cooking. Liquid glazes are normally applied cold. Their viscosity depends on the amount and type of hydrocolloids and starches in the formulation.
Caution must be used in putting together glazes. The same factors that cause dry rubs to burn also impinge on glazes. For a fully-cooked product, glazes are applied before cooking, but some acidic glazes may be applied after cooking. If the product is steam-cooked, care should be taken since the steam can remove the glaze from the chicken.