What is Reduction?


When a recipe says to reduce a liquid, what is reduction?


Reduction is a term used only when there is liquid involved in your recipe. Many recipes, especially those that end up with a nice thick sauce that you spoon over the meat when serving, ask you to reduce the sauce or perform reduction when nearing the end of the recipe. Often you are asked to reduce the sauce after adding a very thin liquid like broth or wine.


What is Reduction?

So, exactly what is reduction and how do you reduce a liquid?

Reduction is a technique that involves decreasing the volume of a liquid. In cooking, this is done by boiling the liquid rapidly in order to speed the evaporation process. While some liquid evaporates, the remaining liquid thickens and the flavor intensifies. Reduction is a great way to make a flavorful sauce for meats or vegetables. Recipes asking for reduction involve a liquid and most often that liquid contains either broth, stock, wine or vinegar.

When a recipe asks for reduction of the liquid, the amount of reduction is either specified as reducing the liquid by a general amount – usually one-third or on-half. Or, the recipe may say to keep boiling until the liquid has reached a specific volume, such as 1/2 cup. The second way is more difficult to measure since you are generally boiling in a pan without measurement markings.

Speaking of the pan, your pan size greatly affects the time it will take to reduce your liquid. Since a larger pan has a greater surface area, the evaporation process will be much quicker than in a smaller pan. For best results, be sure to use the pan size that is recommended in your recipe.

Additional Info

Check our cooking terms exposed for explanations of other confusing cooking terms.

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