Reduce or reduction in cooking means to thicken and intensify the flavour of a liquid by simmering until the liquid reduces in volume, so the flavour is concentrated.
This process is used generally on soups and sauces and is similar to deglazing.
To Deglaze involves less reduction and a slower cooking of the contents. (see Deglaze).
Reduction is performed by simmering or boiling a liquid such as stock, fruit or vegetable juices, wine, vinegar, or a sauce until the desired concentration is reached by the evaporation of the lighter liquid contents.
This is done without a lid, enabling the vapor to escape from the mixture.
While reduction in cooking does concentrate the flavours left in the pan, reducing too much will remove all the liquid in the sauce.
This will leave you with a burnt, sticky mess on your pan.
How To Reduce Sauce
This method works well with most sauces, because as a sauce heats up, the water will evaporate, leaving a thicker and more concentrated sauce behind.
Reducing a sauce will particularly concentrate sweet, sour, and salty flavours, but it may also reduce some of the herb and spice flavours, so taste the sauce as it reduces and be prepared to adjust the seasonings when it has fully reduced.
- Bring your sauce to a Simmer. Don’t let it boil.
- Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
As the water evaporates and the sauce reduces in quantity, it will continue thickening.
- Reduce until you achieve the desired consistency.
If you aren’t working from a recipe, the rule of thumb is that a sauce is ready when it reaches a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon without running off.
How To Reduce A Sauce
How to reduce liquid in a pan to concentrate its flavours for making a sauce or gravy.
How to make a simple reduction with Curtis Stone
What’s a reduction? Chef Curtis Stone explains, and shows how to prepare your own using balsamic vinegar.
You can also make an easy, thick reduction using port, red wine or even orange juice.
How To Reduce Balsamic Vinegar
Here KitchenLingo demonstrates what it means to “reduce” in cooking terms anyone can use.
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