“What is meat tenderizer?” is not a new question, but it is one that many people have. So if you do not know about them before or how to make tough meats softer without compromising their nutrients, taste, or texture, this post can open your mind.
The ugly truth is that some juicy and tender steak might not come at an affordable price. But there are ways to soften other tough meat cuts to fit your tight budget. And it is when a meat tenderizer shines to create many appetizing dinner dishes that your family will love.
So in this article, I will provide every detail about meat tenderizers, their types, benefits or disadvantages, and the best tenderizers on the market to help you prepare the juiciest meaty dishes without too much effort and money as well.
Table of Contents
Meat Tenderizer By Mechanical Tools
There are 2 main types of tenderizer: mechanical means and powdered ingredients. Let’s start with the first type with tools.
What Are They?
Many people prefer these mechanical tools as meat pounders. These tools can be made from varied materials with various styles, but there are 2 primary categories: Mallet/Pounder and Blade/Needle. And they are for manual use.
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Regardless of what types you choose, they are excellent in breaking down or flattening the tough raw cuts and tenderizing them so you can cook faster or allow the marinade or seasonings to be absorbed fully.
Features of 2 Mechanical Tenderizer Styles
The next sections will outline the distinguishing characteristics of each type. Continue reading to discover which type would be best for you.
Mallet meat tenderizer has the look of a hammer, and this is the most typical type that people choose to beat the meats and make them softer. Hence, you can reduce your cooking time and increase the flavor-absorption efficiency of the flesh.
They are normally designed with 2 sides; 1 has many small pyramid-shaped points for breaking down the tough fiber, the other one has a smooth and flat surface that you can flatten your meat cuts for an even thickness.
These tools can soften any type, like beef, pork, chicken, etc., and reduce your cooking time, making them a perfect solution for busy people.
So why don’t you use it to prepare any big dinner, even at mid-week? And if you also wonder what should be prepared, try these hearty and tasty Wednesday night ideas with different meat types.
In addition, make sure you have enough room to swing the mallet. And cover your countertop or wear an apron because your food can splash out. Moreover, you should understand how to use your meat tenderizer correctly to ensure your safety.
How to use a meat mallet correctly? Check here now!
These tools feature several small blades/needles that can go through 1.5 to 2-inch meat thickness. It also forms numerous tiny spaces inside the meat to increase seasoning, rubbing or marinading efficiency.
You just have to press down your tool to use it, and the blades/needles will pierce the meat cuts and break up the tough fiber.
They can also shorten your cooking time because the heat and moisture can run through the muscle and soften them faster. However, this style might not be compatible with thin cuts as it can tear them apart.
If you prefer an appliance with tiny blades, make sure you know how it operates.
In general, each of the 2 categories has different features. And you can have various choices for good-quality meat tenderizer tools, but make sure that you choose a safe and durable one.
Meat Tenderizer By Powder
The use of biochemistry to tenderize meat is another effective way. And the most popular style of this one is meat tenderizer powder.
Components In Powdered Meat Tenderizer
These meat tenderizers use the naturally derived enzyme in powdered form. Two primary active ingredients in powdered tenderizers are bromelain (derived from pineapples (1)) and papain (from papayas (2)). Some products might include ficin (from figs) as well.
These powders can be sold commercially in 2 forms: seasoned and unseasoned, also known as plain tenderizers. With the seasoned type, many manufacturers add other spices (e.g., salt and sugar) to add more flavors. Some also add anticaking components as calcium stearate.
How It Works
Technically, they are a protein-cleaving enzyme that can attack and break down the muscle fibers and collagen in meats, denature the protein, and make them tender. So just sprinkle the powder over your food and wait for the enzyme to do its job.
And that is why you cannot use a meat tenderizer or add papaya or pineapple to any gelatin-based dishes. Because gelatin is made from animal collagen, enzymes can break it down.
However, you should carefully check the instructions to find the appropriate ratio when using. And it would take a few minutes or more based on the thickness. So for thick and tough cuts, this tenderizing process with these powders might take around 30 minutes before cooking.
Chicken, pork, or beef are ideal meat types for fondue, so whenever you want to enjoy this dish, you should use a little bit of these meat tenderizer powders and make the cuts soften enough for easy chewing.
Overall, these powders use biochemistry to soften the toughest ones without any mechanical means.
Try meat tenderizer powder and make your steak simpler to cook. You can see this video to know more:
Are There Other Potential Meat Tenderizers?
Besides these artificial and commercial meat tenderizers above, you can find other options to tenderize your foods effectively. And the best thing about them is these ingredients are totally natural. Let’s check the table for comprehensive information.
|Types||Reason||How To Use|
|Papaya, Pineapple, Fig, Or Kiwi||These fruits have enzymes to break down protein. This way is ideal for thin cuts||Option 1: Cut in slices, apply them on the meat surface, and let it sit for a few hours |
Option 2: Use their juice and soak foods in for hours
|Tea||The tannin in tea is a green tenderizer agent||Use 1 to 2 cups to cool strong black tee and soak the meat for up to 1 day (24 hours)|
|Coffee||The acidic compounds in coffee can act as a tenderizing component||Make a pot of strong coffee and leave it cool before immersing meat. Soak it in up to 24 hours|
|Coke||Coke also contains acid content to help soften meat||Marinate foods with this drink in at least 30 minutes or a maximum of 24 hours|
|Beer or Wine||Both have tannins and acids||Soak meats in beer/wine for a minimum of 1 hour|
|Baking Soda||Baking soda can alkalize meat surface as it is an antacid ingredient, which can break down proteins and make the cuts tender as well||Option 1: Sprinkle it on the surface, give it a little rub and allow the meats to sit for a few hours (in the fridge) |
Option 2: Mix baking soda and water, marinate meats for hours. Rinse your foods before cooking
|Salt||Salt can absorb the water out of the meat, then break down the protein cells||Sprinkle a little bit of salt over the cuts, let it sit for at least 1 hour. Rinse it with water before cooking|
|Vinegar||Vinegar contains acetic acid||Option 1: Soak meats in vinegar |
Option 2: Add 1 tablespoon to the cooking liquid
Tips: Avoid using cast-iron and metal-made pans when cooking foods with vinegar because they will react to your food and pan
|Ginger||The proteolytic in ginger is an enzyme to tender meat cuts||Slice ginger into thin pieces and place on the surface of meats for at least 2 hours|
|Yogurt or Buttermilk||Both contain acidic and calcium, which are active enzymes||Soak them in yogurt or buttermilk for hours. Rinse before cooking|
There is another way for tendering, referred to as “slow and long cooking”. The longer you cook, the softer and juicier the meat cuts, as this method will break down all the connective tissue, fibers, and fat.
This method is ideal for pulled pork dishes, which require a long cooking time. And they are perfect for cooking in a slow cooker/crockpot. So if you have this cookware at home, you should try some authentic Mexican crockpot recipes and mesmerize your beloved people.
What are the best tricks for tenderizing? You can see this video to know more:
Using Meat Tenderizer – Yes Or No?
Let’s discuss a little bit about the advantages and disadvantages of both mechanically and biochemistry ways in softening tough cuts of meat.
Pros and Cons Of Meat Tenderizer Tools
Here are some reasons you want and might not want to use a tool to pound, flatten, stab raw meat cuts.
- Offer thinner, softer foods to chew easier
- Ensure the same thickness for even cooking
- Reduce cooking time
- Save your money because these tools can well-treat cheaper steak, which might be tougher than other expensive cuts
- Help meats absorb flavors from marinades or seasonings quickly and effectively
- Some heavy mallet/pounder can affect the meat’s structure and moisture during operation
- Or some products can tear the cuts, especially the thin ones
Pros and Cons Of Powdered/Enzymatic/Acid-based Meat Tenderizer
Like manual tools, these biochemical types also have pluses and minuses that you have to consider before using.
- Soften foods ideally without using any physical effort
- Many commercial meat tenderizers can reduce a significant preparation and cooking time
- Some seasoned powdered can also add more flavors to your dishes
- Improve the texture for even and easy cook, cut, and eat
- There is a temperature limitation for enzymatic tenderizers as they can only work at room temperature (from 140 to 160 degrees F)
- Those meat cuts that were treated by enzyme-based tenderizers might result in slimy surfaces
- Some people also claim acid and enzyme can only work on the surface, not into the meat core
Combine a tool and enzymatic meat tenderizers to soften your pork chop for the best result.
Some Other Fun Fact About Meat Tenderizer
In fact, this part mainly focuses on powdered/enzyme-based tenderizer types. And I guess you are also surprised with their fun facts in terms of other benefits for you and your fur babies.
Good Treatment For Jelly/Bee/Warp Bites
The papain enzyme in the meat tenderizer prevents swells and itches from these bites. This ingredient will break down the proteins causing pain.
For the best result, you should use a non-seasoned type, mix it with water, then apply it to the affected skin and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes (3).
Ideal Solution For Dogs That Like Eating Their Feces
Sounds so interesting, right? How can it work to prevent this issue? Some dogs have this manner as they are suffering from “coprophagia”. They can eat their own waste or other dogs’ as these feces might contain undigested nutrients.
With the papain enzyme, meat tenderizers can promote full digestion and make their feces unappetizing, reducing the chance of poop-eating in dogs. So all you have to do is add it to the dog’s food. And do not worry about any side effects to your 4-leg babies; it is totally safe.
Best Products Of Both Styles Of Tenderizer
Below are 4 worth-trying products which include 2 items for tenderizer tools and 2 for powdered style.
The dual sides (one is for flattening and one is for tenderizing) will not limit your prep job for any type of meat. Also, as this product is constructed with sturdy aluminum, its durability is undoubted.
So if you are seeking the best and easy-to-use tool to support in preparing dinner for your family in no time, you should definitely try this product.
Can you believe that with only a few bucks, you can have versatile kitchenware that not only improves the texture and flavor of your foods but also shortens your cooking time? Well, its 24 stainless steel needles can handle the toughest fibers and connective tissues efficiently.
Just 1 teaspoon of McCormick for each pound of pork, beef, or chicken, and let it do the magic in 30 minutes. Indeed, this is a high-quality mixture of salt, dextrose, bromelain, and calcium silicate to tenderize and add flavor to the food at the same time.
Including sea salt, extraction of pineapple fruit, and sugar, this unseasoned tenderizer is perfect for your dishes. Plus, no MSG is contained, which means better for your health when used.
If you still have other worries about using meat tenderizer, this section will clear things up in the shortest way.
How Do You Think About Using Meat Tenderizer?
At this point, I believe you grasped everything about these useful tricks to make your favorite foods softer and juicier, even if they are not expensive meat cuts.
So, what types of meat tenderizer do you prefer? And can you tell me more about why you choose it in the comment part? I look forward to hearing your feedback regarding this subject. If you like this post, do not forget to click like and share.
- En.wikipedia.org. 2022. Bromelain.
- En.wikipedia.org. 2022. Papain.
- Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2022. Insect Stings.