The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 25 April 2010]

Does lemon juice tenderize meat?

Nic goes all MythBusters on the idea that lemon juice tenderizes meat.
Flat Iron Steak with Lemon Juice
Flat iron steak.
Click for larger version.

I’m working at introducing my daughter to the scientific method. This is really important to me, as I firmly believe the scientific method is the only way we can rise above being apes throwing rocks at each other for believing in the wrong sky fairy.

My way of introducing the method is to perform blind tests on grilled meats. It’s been a huge hit with my daughter—every time we get ready to cook on the weekend she asks if we’re doing another blind test. We’ve already explored if salt will tenderize meat. If you don’t want to click the link, the answer is nope. Negatory.

Today we moved on to test if lemon juice tenderizes meat. From what I’ve been told, lemon juice contains enzymes that break down the proteins in the meat, thus rendering it more tender. Which seems reasonable to me.

The process is simple: Buy two slabs of meat—in our case, flat iron steaks, since they make wicked good burrito fillings—subject one piece of the meat to marinating in lemon juice for an hour, and leave the other as a control. Then the meat is grilled and my wife and daughter perform a taste test.

In this case, they both picked the wrong meat. So for short runs, I’m calling lemon juice snake oil. It’s quite possible marinating in lemon juice overnight would yield different results, but you know, that would take much more planning than I’m willing to put into this.

So far we’ve performed two tests and both have been negative. I hope to find one that actually works for the next time.

Stay tuned to the next episode of BBQing with SCIENCE!.

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