Using Papaya As a Natural Meat Tenderizer

There is nothing more delicious than some juicy, tender meat fresh from the grill, but getting hold of the most tender cuts can cost a small fortune. While buying poor quality meat is never going to work out well for you, buying meat that would, on its own, come out just a little tough and using a tenderizer can make for savings as well as a great meal. There are a number of ways to tenderize meat, including of course the classic ‘beating it up with a mallet’ method, however marinating is the best option because it also makes the meat tastier, juicier, and healthier because it prevents the formation of HCAs which are believed to be a carcinogen when the meat is cooked.

When it comes to making a marinade for your meat that will really tenderize it as well as adding a great flavor, natural papaya is a fantastic option. Papaya is known for its delicious taste as well as its many health benefits, but it is also one of nature’s best tenderizing agents.

How Does Papaya Work as a Meat Tenderizer?

Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which breaks down the collagen and various other connective tissues in meat. Meat becomes tough and stringy because of these connective tissues, which stop you being able to bite through it easily and chew it without having to put in too much work! The papaya will gently destroy these tissues, leaving you with nothing but the tender, juicy meat you want to enjoy when you throw it on the grill or put it in your other dishes. Papaya also has a delicious, fruity, tropical flavor that is a good addition to flavored marinades.

How to Use Papaya in a Marinade

There are lots of ways you can use papaya in your food to tenderize your meat. You can add grated papaya to a mixed marinade with other ingredients of your choice. Using some oil, for example olive oil, will help the marinade permeate the meat and will enable you to tenderize the meat even if you have thicker steaks or other cuts. It will also make the meat taste juicier. Blending a wet mixture of oil, grated papaya and other seasonings of your choice and sitting steaks or other meats in it for a few hours is the easiest way to get the flavor and tenderization benefits.

You can also use grated papaya in a rub for meat. Mix it with the herbs and spices of your choice and it will make a kind of paste you should massage into the meat. Again, this should be done a few hours before cooking to give the papain a chance to work.

Timing Your Marinade

The papain enzyme doesn’t activate when it is very cold, so you will need to leave the meat out at room temperature in the marinade or with the rub applied for three to four hours before cooking to let it work its magic. If you prepare the meat well in advance, for example applying the marinade the day before, leave it in the fridge (while the tenderizing action won’t start, the meat will still be soaking up flavor) until a few hours before it is time to cook it.