What Does Lemon Do to Beef?

You probably already use lemon juice on a lot of things. Just like vinegar, it serves many culinary and household purposes. Besides making marinades, the citric taste of lemon can be used to flavor foods and beverages as well as help to preserve vegetables and fruits. But what about beef? What can lemon do to beef? Lemon juice can turn your ordinary plate of beef into a culinary masterpiece.

Lemon juice has about 5-6% citric acid and has a pH of about 2.2. Because of its distinctive sour taste, here at Chad’s BBQ, we use it as an ingredient in many of our drinks and foods. Here’s a detailed look at what lemon juice does to our beef.

1. Lemon Juice is a Great Beef Tenderizer

lemon do to beef feature

Ran out of vinegar? Worried about your beef chunks being too tough to chew? Squeeze out some lemons! The acidity in lemon juice disintegrates the connective fibers within the chunks of meat, making it deliciously tender.

Marinating beef in lemon juice also adds flavor to your meal. Unlike vinegar, the meat easily soaks up the aromatic citrus juice. This enables other ingredients within the marinade (like oil and spices) to have a more pronounced effect on the beef’s taste, juiciness, and texture.

The tenderness also allows the seasoning to seep deeper into the now-soft meat tissue. This is why Chad’s smoked kielbasa links taste much better when seasoned with pickled red onions and mustard.

To achieve a more intense flavor without leaving the meat in the marinade for too long, we cut our beef chunks into smaller pieces before marination. This makes the cooking process more effective and you can enjoy softer beef with uniform marination.

2. Lemon Juice “Cooks” Beef

The citric acid in lemon juice penetrates the elastic tissue in beef through a process known as denaturation. This has the same effect as heating the beef – both methods stimulate the disintegration of the protein structure. However, beef cooked solely by soaking in citric marinade has a slightly different taste to that cooked with heat. The marination duration for the beef can range anywhere from 2-48 hours – depending on how chunky it is.

Additionally, it’s not advisable to eat a beefsteak that’s been solely denaturized. While this idea may work for softer types of meat like fish, beef has more connective fibers and eating it in this “semi-cooked” form may result in food poisoning. The dense connective tissues inhibit the extent to which the lemon juice can seep into the meat.

3. Lemon Juice Can Sterilize Beef

At Chad’s BBQ, in instances where we need to preserve our beef chunks a little longer before cooking them, we first sterilize the meat by dousing them in fresh lemon juice. The acidic solution inhibits bacterial growth, while maintaining freshness, making our beef safe for everyone.

Enjoy Delicious Beef at Chad’s BBQ

At Chad’s BBQ, we take pride in expertly marinating our beef for a yummy and tender taste. Feel free to step into our restaurant for a scrumptious family-friendly menu. We also offer catering services for all types of events including birthday parties, graduation celebrations, holiday gatherings, and fundraisers. Contact us at (410) 956-7774 to make a reservation or place an order. We’re located at 158 W Central Ave. Edgewater, MD 21037.