How to Reduce by Half

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Some of you are here to find out how to make my pinot gris reduction for the East of Eden, and as the directions will tell you, you’ll need to reduce the wine by half. But how can you tell when a liquid is reduced by half without pouring it into a measuring cup every five minutes? Here’s what I do:

Before you apply heat to your liquid, dip the end of a wooden spoon into the pot and let it sit there for a few seconds. You know, so that it soaks into the wood a little bit.

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Then, using your fingernail or a table knife, make a mark where the liquid level was on the wooden spoon.

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Make another mark halfway between your nail mark and the end of the spoon. Now you have a gauge that will tell you when you’re done. When the liquid in the pot is the same height as your halfway mark, you’ve reduced that liquid by half.

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A couple of notes:

This is only mildly accurate with straight-sided, flat-bottomed saucepots. Anything with curved or beveled edges won’t quite have the same effect.

This technique works equally well for recipes that call for a liquid to be reduced by two-thirds, or a fourth, or what-have-you. Fingernail your spoon accordingly.

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