How Long is Overnight?
Defining Marinate Overnight, Rise Overnight
The term “overnight”, when used in the kitchen, allows for a range of time from 8 to 24 hours. This is a safe timeframe that works whenever a recipe calls for an overnight procedure. For instance “marinate overnight”, “let rise overnight”, “chill overnight”, or “freeze overnight”. The term overnight allows you to begin the process either early in the morning on the same day or the night before your planned completion.
Going under the 8 hours could be detrimental to your finished product, as could going over the allotted overnight timeframe. The main purpose of marinating, besides adding flavor, is most often to soften a tough cut of meat. Marinating for less than 8 hours could leave you with a very chewy dinner.
The problem with going over the 24 hour overnight limit when marinating meats (unless the recipe specifically allows it), is that the acidic element that was meant to soften the meat can actually cause it to toughen when given more time to react.
When letting dough “rise overnight” (most often done in the refrigerator unless just a small bit of yeast is used in the recipe) the issue with less than 8 hours is that the dough may not rise resulting in hard bread and going beyond 24 hours the dough may loose it’s structure and simply collapse.
How Long is Overnight?
Never re-use a marinade. Toss out any marinade that remains after the overnight period is done. Raw meat juices enter a marinade, which provides a great place for bacteria to multiply. If you would like to use part of the marinade for serving the meat, then set some aside for this purpose in a separate container that does not touch the meat. If you forgot to set it aside, the marinade can come to a full boil for at least a full minute before being used to top or dip cooked meat (which could change the structure of the marinade) – but this can only be done for that same dinner. Never try to save a marinade that has touched raw meat for another day.
If a crock pot or slow cooker recipe calls to “cook overnight on low”, they are most likely thinking of an 8-12 hour timeframe. A meal cooked much longer than that will generally become unidentifiable mush.
Make sure your meats reach the proper internal temperature before consumption.