Heavy Cream Reduction

Joined Mar 21, 2001
I’m would appreciate some advise on how to make a heavy cream reduction.
My understanding is, simmer the heavy cream then boil to reduce. The two problem areas I’m concerned with are scalding the cream and breaking the reduction?. How do I avoid these problem areas and am I correctly beginning the reduction process? My initial application will be Alfredo sauce
Joined Mar 6, 2001
When making alfedo at home (I made it with dinner this evening about once a week) I reduce the cream right in with my noodles. And adjust by under cooking my pre-cooked pasta. It really doesn't take much reducing for a couple serving. Then turn down my heat and add my cheese, salt and pepper, toss abit and turn off the heat, let it sit for a minute before serving.

But when I'd make a large batch of pasta alfedo I do reduce my cream seperately. It's just a matter of boiling it long enough for evaporation to happen. Reducing is often done in frying pans (in professional kitchens) to speed up the process. By having a larger surface area for the evaporation you can reduce your liquid quicker. But any liquid can be reduced in a pot too, like you do your spagetti sauce, you boil your cream down the same way...

Your not going to scald the cream unless you have an extemely high heat or too thin of a pan. Just a regular high flame in a decent pan or pot will work fine. As far as breaking a reduction, hum I can't think of how you can. Adding lemon won't do it.....Maybe someone else knows how you would?

But what I'm trying to say is relax and don't worry. Have you done this and had a problem???
Joined Jul 22, 2000
For Alfredo I reduce shallots in white wine then add the cream and let it reduce then add parm .
To get to nape I watch the bubbles ... they will start to take longer to pop as the sauce becomes more viscous.

If you are doing a large batch make sure and use a tall sauce pan to keep the cream from boiling over. I have used sauté pans for this when making single order pan reductions, but you have to watch the heat closely to keep the sauce in the pan and off the stove.

The emulsification of heavy cream is HARD to break. There is a large enough amount of fat that it is almost "bullet proof".

One of my favorite chicken dishes uses a modification of this sauce ..

1) Sauté chix breast till 1/2 done, reserve
2) add shallot
3) deglaze with white wine, reduce to au sec
4) add sliced mushrooms, any type of shroom (can be precooked)
5) add heavy cream
6) add chicken base (can use stock if base not available)
7) when cream comes up to a strong simmer, add breast to finish cooking.
8) reduce to nape
9) finish with salt and white pepper.

If I am using chicken stock (instead of base) and uncooked mush, I will cook the mush in the chicken stock as it reduces then add the cream.
Joined Nov 19, 1999
I made a beautiful lemon/cream sauce at work one day, and froze a container of it to use for chicken. When I took the sauce out of the freezer and thawed it, I noticed that it was not as pretty. It had taken on a gray tone and the flavor of the onions in the recipe had taken over. Any advice? Thank you in advance.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
To the best of my experiences you can't freeze all cream sauces. Although I think I recall a couple times having successfully reheated, and it might have had to do with how it was re-warmed that made it successful in conjuction with the thickener used.

Obviously if you have gelatin in your cream mixture (like in mousses and bavarians) they defrost nicely with-out any loss of quality. So I'm thinking that you have to have something else that binds the liquids and solids in the cream to keep them bound thru defrost....but all thickners don't work thru freezing. For instance I think flour (as in a roux) holds thru defrosts and cornstarch won't.

Maybe you'll see something that helps explain this at www.foodstarch.com .
Joined Nov 19, 1999
Thank you! That was exactly what I was looking for. I had used a little corn starch to thicken the sauce. Now I know better.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I'll be very curious to see how did work. Please PC let me know how the cream freezes with the starch.
Joined Mar 21, 2001
I've read that rice flour it the stach of choice if you plan to freeze and reheat. However, I've never tried it.
Joined Nov 19, 1999
Hi Isa, What I was saying here was that using the corn starch made my sauce ugly when it froze. Rice flour? I will definitely give that one a try. Sometimes I have to really rush things along at the sorority, so I didn't have time to reduce the sauce by boiling it any longer. That's when I used the little bit of corn starch to thicken it just a little.
Joined Oct 13, 2001
If you use roux as a part of your cream sauce it will reheat OK
from the freezer or the fridge . When I make a white sauce I also normally use a little corn starch white wash in conjunction with the roux ( it gives a nice glossy appearance to the sauce ) but the roux is the main thickening agent . Ive never had a problem with this as long as I have followed these procedures but I"ll tell you that I am not a big fan of reusing leftover anything . I much prefer these sauces to be made to order at the sauciers station,
however when a large banquet is the order of the day and you need quantity roux with a touch of whitewash cornstarch is the way to go . Of course thats just my opinion.......................:cool:
Joined May 29, 2006
Sometimes the pan you prepare the sauce in (cheap aluminum) could effect the color and taste. the lemon is citric acid which would cause a reaction with the pan. This is why I told all my students never freeze with aluminum foil as it has a reaction with almost all foods. It forms grey dots on the surface of the food, this is aluminum oxide which in another form is great for treating ulcers but not for storeing food. The foil industry tells you to use foil on everything so they can sell more. Ed Buchanan
Joined Apr 20, 2007
Please remember that corn starch is not designed to be frozen. If you're using corn starch, only use enough to add a sheen to your sauce. The majority of your thickening should come from a quality roux. If you dislike using roux, go find a modified starch that is designed for freezing, like arrowroot. You'll have success this way.
Just my opinion though....
Joined Jun 27, 2006
I certainly hope Cooking_Sherry is still not trying to reduce the cream and Pastachef figured out the color difference. After all it's only been 6 years!!!!!!!!!!:lol: I'm all for recycling but c'mon gang. :beer::rolleyes: Although it is interesting to see what was going on here "so many years ago":D
Joined Aug 11, 2000
I started picking up cream that had a short life span for greatly reduced price and boiled it to a very very thick goo, froze for quick additions. There is a ready made Italian thick cream that comes in cryovac container....figured out that I could make my own version for much less.

Oldschool......some of the past threads have an amazing life, it's fun to read back through what was written by whom "in the day".
Some are no longer active, others have changed their name, still others have hopefully grown as cooks/chefs....;)
Joined Feb 26, 2011
And some of us are reading it for the first time...years since the last post! LOL Thanks for the info!
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Interesting thread - i didn't realize it was so old and was surprised not to hear some familiar voices chiming in with their hair on end for various points being made.  Now i realize why!

I reduce cream for a really simple steak sauce (simmer cream till it's thick and then add mustard and chopped parsley) - my very generous, then-vegetarian son-in-law, knowing how much i like meat, bought me this book by John Torode on beef and it had this recipe - i turn to it all the time when i have a nice steak and want something special with it, but don't have time to make any of the more elaborate sauces. 

The italian thick cream tastes awful - it's the mainstay of many a family to feed kids quickly and easily and know they'll eat it - boil some packaged tortellini and pour the cream on them from the UHT package and put some grated cheese, but i can taste the UHT taste (UHT=ultra high temperature - you can buy milk like this and keep it out of the fridge before opening for several months, same for cream). 

I also reduce cream for certain dishes i got from British recipes, where the cream is sooo dreamy and thick already you have to spoon it!  Simple things like blanched spinach and celeriac cooked in the oven with double cream.  I have to reduce it here. 

I would NEVER put any starch in it.  I'd be able to taste it.  And roux - forget it, it tastes like bechamel, which is fine, but a totally different thing.  No way.  Cream has a freshness that gets ruined, i think, if put with thickeners. 

And let's not get into fettuccine alfredo with all the concoctions it's become associated with. 
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Cornstarch will always bind when frozen, when defrosted should be simmered mixed with s/s wire whip and strained. Arrowroot a little better.but same procedure applies.. Frozen food manufacturers use guava gum, and other forms of modified food starches.that hold when frozen. Roux will hold better then any starches the average person has in their pantry. Best thing is don't overproduce , try and make as you require it.
Joined Apr 2, 2014
When reducing heavy cream, start the simmer before 20 to 30 minutes, (up to 30oz cream). When you get to the "turning up the heat time", You must be very attentive to the sauce and stir it often.  I like to saute my protein,(e.g.Shrimp scalllops , chicken) in whatever spices and liquids the recipe calls for, remove the par cooked protein, add the cream.  Let it thicken and finish the protein off in the thickened sauce.  This makes an unbelievably scrumtuous meal.
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