In food preparation, maceration is softening or breaking into pieces using a liquid.
Raw, dried or preserved fruit or vegetables are soaked in a liquid to soften the food and/or absorb the flavor of the liquid into the food. In the case of fresh fruit, particularly soft fruit such as strawberries and raspberries, they are often just sprinkled with sugar (and sometimes a small amount of salt) then left to sit and release their own juices. This process makes the food more flavorful and easier to chew and digest.
Maceration is often confused with marination, which is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking.
Some herbal preparations call for maceration, as it is one way to extract delicate or highly volatile herbal essences "cold" and thus preserve their signature more accurately.
Sometimes a cooking oil is used as the liquid for maceration – especially olive or some other vegetable oil.
Maceration of byproducts from food processing plants sometimes involves the use of a chopper pump to create a "blended" slurry of food waste and other organic byproducts. The macerated substance, which can be described as a protein-rich slurry, is often used for animal feed, fertilizer, and for co-digestion feedstock in biogas plants.
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