Reduced Cream

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

When heavy cream is added to another liquid to enrich and thicken it—to a meat sauce, or deglazing liquid, or a vegetable puree—then of course its fat globules are diluted and its consistency thins down. In order to make cream a more effective thickener, cooks concentrate it even further by boiling off water from the continuous phase. When the volume of cream is reduced by a third, the globule concentration reaches 55% and the consistency is like that of a light starchthickened sauce; when reduced by half, the globules take up 75% of the volume and the consistency is very thick, almost semisolid. Stirred into a thinner liquid, these reduced creams have enough fat globules to fill it and lend a substantial body. Cream reduction and thickening can also be done at the last minute, for example after a sauté pan has been deglazed; the cook adds cream to the deglazing liquid and boils the mixture until it reaches the desired consistency.