Maximizing Flavor: A Deep Dive into Vacuum Marinators

There’s nothing that deepens a flavor experience quite like a marinade. Complex taste profiles dance with tender, succulent texture that simultaneously satisfies and leaves you wanting more.

The best marinades create an addictive signature flavor that lingers in customers mouths, driving them to come back again and again.

But while enjoying tasty, marinated food is easy, preparing it has its challenges.

The work behind the magic

As delicious as marination is, the process takes time, space and planning. Having a crystal ball wouldn’t hurt, either.

Marination times vary between proteins, and many popular choices require soaking for eight hours or more. To stay profitable, you need to be able to accurately predict demand in advance so you can prepare enough marinated product but avoid overpreparing and creating expensive waste.

Stacking proteins inside of marinating vessels can create bald spots where flavor can’t penetrate, and the vessels themselves take up a lot of prime real estate inside walk-in coolers that could be used for additional menu items.

These vessels also need to be filled with enough marinade to completely cover the product, which ends up getting dumped when the process is complete.

Why vacuum marinators are better

  • Reduces food waste
  • Decreases marinating times
  • Saves on labor
  • Improves product consistency
  • Saves money on ingredients
  • Frees up space in the walk-in

Want to reduce wasted product? Reclaim that walk-in space that’s currently reserved for marination? Save on marinade costs? Speed up process time? If the answer to these questions is a resounding yes, then a vacuum marinator is for you.

AyrKing’s vacuum marinator can dramatically shrink overnight marinating times to as little as 20-25 minutes, helping your operation respond quickly to unpredictable demand. If you sell out of a product during lunch rush, for instance, it’s easy to prep more for dinner. You could even marinate during rush times when you’re running low.

Automating your marination process also saves on labor, minimizing human error, and improves product consistency from shift to shift and between locations. Your operation could produce higher quality foods faster, with fewer operators.

Maybe you’ve been itching to add something new to the menu or increase organizational efficiency. The newly vacant space in your walk-in could be just what you need to make it happen.

And because the vacuum-tumble process infuses flavor while using significantly less marinade than traditional soaking, the money you save on marinades or flavor infusions from providers can go directly into profit.

How vacuum marinators work

Vacuum marinators have three parts: the motor, vacuum/tumble marinator vessel and vacuum pump.

When the vacuum pump removes air from the vessel, the fibers in the proteins inside expand, allowing the marinade to penetrate quickly and deeply. This happens relatively quickly — generally within 2-3 minutes — although you can choose a longer or shorter vacuum time if you wish.

Meanwhile, the barrel on the marinator spins vertically, gently massaging the marinade into the proteins as they fall against the barrel’s flat edge and center cross bar. The tumbling motion tenderizes the proteins and ensures all areas are thoroughly covered without any bare patches.

Marinating at scale

There are vacuum marinators of all sizes, from 50-100-lb. models geared toward restaurants and caterers to 3,000-5,000 lb.

Vacuum marinators in the wild

Chef Anthony Head of Chicken Head’s had high hopes when he invested in an AyrKing Vacuum Marinator, DrumRoll and BBS, but he had no idea how far his increased efficiency would end up taking him.

Read more in the Chicken Head’s case study.

How to use vacuum marinators

A whole new brine game

Brines are saltwater solutions, often with sugar and spices added, that increase the moisture and flavor in lean meats that tend toward drying, such as chicken, turkey and pork. Brines make lean cuts juicy and tender — but typically add hours to your prep process. With a vacuum marinator, you can get the same delicious results in a fraction of the time.

Simply place your proteins and brine solution in the vessel, apply vacuum for 2-3 minutes and let tumble for 15-20 minutes for a perfect plump.

Marvelous marinades

The marinating process is similar to the brining process, with the exception of the optimal types of proteins. Marinades make everything from beef and lamb to chicken and seafood delightfully moist and flavorful, helping even slow-cooked dishes — such as BBQ — burst with flavor.

As with brining, add your proteins and enough marinade to coat them into the tumbling vessel. Apply vacuum for 2-3 minutes and tumble for 15-20 minutes. Delicate proteins need less time and should be removed earlier to prevent over-tenderizing.

Vacuum marinator best practices

To get optimal performance from your vacuum marinator, it’s important to train your staff to use it correctly. Some common practices that can sabotage results are overfilling the unit and piling ingredients within the vessel.

Be sure to leave enough room in the drum so the proteins can tumble properly.

Adaptability and utility

Because vacuum marinators make short work of the process, it’s easy to offer multiple marinated items on the same menu. You can even combine marination with other preparation methods, such as adding a flavor infusion to your breaded chicken or layering a tangy marinade into a smoky grilled item.

Testing the limits

Vacuum marinators do have some important limits — size, mix, and balance.

Anything you want to marinate has to be able to fit through the vessel door. Larger items will need to be cut down or marinated through other methods. You need to be on your “chef math” to ensure you’re adding the right amount of liquid to the vessel. Too much, and the flavor will be overpowering and could result in a waste of your ingredients. Too little, and it may not completely cover your proteins.

There’s also a potential for over-tenderizing by tumbling too long. Chefs should set standards for balancing time and pressure with the proteins they marinate regularly. Delicate proteins will need less time and pressure. Tougher cuts will need more.

AyrKing helps make your operation more profitable

If your profitability’s tied up by the time, space and labor needed to soak foods in marinade, you can set it free with AyrKing’s vacuum marinator. Stop guessing at future demand and start slashing your expenses while producing better, consistently marinated foods, faster and with less effort.

Find out how AyrKing’s vacuum marinators can help enhance your culinary creations

Connect with AyrKing

No matter where you are around the globe, AyrKing is always ready to help you find the best commercial food prep equipment for your operation. Use our convenient online locator to connect with a distributor or representative in your area.