If you’re guilty of purchasing ‘budget’ cuts of beef from time to time, these natural tenderisers will come in really handy. Simply soak your beef cuts in these natural tenderisers before cooking, and we guarantee the beef will be fall-apart tender!
Tea contains tannins, which are a natural tenderiser. Method: Make 1-2 cups of strong black tea, allow it to cool, and then immerse the beef in the liquid for up to 24 hours. The longer you leave the beef to marinade, the more tender it will be.
Coffee adds flavour and acts as a natural tenderiser. Method: Brew a strong pot of coffee, allow it to cool, and then soak the beef in it for up to 24 hours before cooking.
The acid content of cola makes it a great tenderiser. Method: Marinate beef in coke (don’t use diet) for a minimum of 30 minutes or a maximum of 24 hours. Cola also adds a subtle spiced caramel flavour.
4) Pineapple, pawpaw, figs, kiwis
These fruits all have papain, an enzyme that’s used in commercial tenderising products. Like acids and salt, this enzyme breaks down tough muscle fibers. Method: Apply fuit slices or mash to the beef and leave for a few hours. Using fruit works best when applied to thin beef cuts.
Ginger is a common ingredient in marinades thanks to its uniquely spicy flavour and the fact that it contains a ‘proteolytic’ enzyme that naturally breaks down meat protein. Method: Add slices of ginger or ginger pulp to the surface of the beef and leave for a minimum of 2 hours.
6) Baking Soda
Baking soda is a miracle product. You can clean the house with it, brush your teeth with it, bake with it… and you can use it to tenderise meat! Baking soda breaks down meat proteins as it is absorbed. Method: Sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the beef, rub it in and then let it sit (in the fridge) for several hours. OR, make a paste out of soda + water, coat the beef and let it marinate for several hours. Make sure to rinse the beef before cooking so that your steak doesn’t taste like baking soda!
The acetic acid in vinegar breaks down meat fibres and makes them more tender and flavoursome. Method: Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to your cooking liquids or soak your meat in vinegar before you cook it. Cook the beef in a glass dish or a non-stick pan, as cast-iron and some other metals can react unfavourably with the acid.
8) Beer or wine
Wine and beer contain acids and tannins, which are both natural tenderisers. Beer/wine will also add great flavour to your meat dishes. Method: Soak beef in beer or wine for at least an hour before cooking.
9) Buttermilk or yoghurt
Buttermilk and yoghurt are acidic and also contain calcium, which activates enzymes within the meat that help to break down protein. Method: Soak the beef in buttermilk or yoghurt for several hours. Rinse before cooking.
- If marinating in a straight acid liquid (like vinegar, wine or lemon juice), don’t soak the meat for longer than 2 hours. Although acids tenderise the meat initially, over time they will actually start to toughen it!
- If you want to marinate your meat for a longer period of time (in order to achieve more flavour), use a recipe that includes oil rather than a straight acidic liquid.