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Dec 8, 2012 02:31 PM

When the recipe says, "Simmer until liquid is reduced by about half..." do you know when you've reached that point? I generally take a ruler, stick it into the pot to measure the depth of the sauce, then simmer until it's about half that depth. But surely there are other ways. How do you typically do it?

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  1. Most of the time, I measure the liquid before I start simmering then guessimate that the amount reduced is about right.

        1. re: foodieX2

          Definitely me as well. I just eyeball it and taste it.

          1. re: chefathome

            Me, too. If it's very shallow, I might tip the pan to see better how much it might measure, otherwise, I make a note of how high up on the side it is. Tasting for concentration is key, too.

      1. All of those tips and I'm looking for the actual consistency of the reduction. The back of the spoon coat or a syrupy consistency depending on the type of reduction. If the point is to concentrate flavors or develop a syrup or glaze the spoon coat test works.

        1. I guess at it. Or simply decide that it's ready when I'm bored watching it reduce.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            Ha! Boredom is what usually gets me cooking.

          2. Disposable wooden chopsticks were made for this! I dip it in the pot, remove and make a mark at the starting point. Very easy to see how much as reduced this way.

            4 Replies
            1. re: meatn3

              Mostly I taste test, but this chopstick idea is excellent.

              1. re: meatn3

                I use a skewer.

                I stick it into the full volume of liquid in the pan, remove it, then eyeball halfway down the wet part of the skewer, and bend the skewer at that point. That marks the level where I want to end up. To check how far along the reduction is, I straighten out the skewer, and stick it back into the liquid to see if the level is close to the mark or not.

                I only do this when when it's important I get it right -- like when I'm reducing a large quantity of cheap balsamic to make a balsamic reduction I keep in a squirt bottle. I reduce to a third of the original volume for that.

                1. re: meatn3

                  I LIKE that idea! Or even a bamboo skewer.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    I have some cookware with dark interiors which makes judging depth tricky. For much of my cooking this isn't necessary but it is handy for the times you need more precision!

                    I tried to get my Chinese take-out place not to give me chopsticks, soy sauce, etc. It morphed into "no sauce" and my order was delivered meat & veg. with no sauce...After that I gave up and am happy to be able to put the chopsticks to a good use!