Illustration for item titled Use a Plate to Check Your Sauce Photo: Africa Studio (Shutterstock)

If you’ve ever made gravy, or a sauce, or something similar to it, that has a thickener added to it, you know that it works very differently when you take it out of a hot, boiling saucepan and place it on a plate. Gravy, jams, and many sauces thicken as they cool, and it can be difficult to tell when they’re “done” while they’re bubbling away. Instead of relying on how they coat a spoon, put a little on a cold platter or room temperature platter and see how it behaves. (If you’re happy with the spoon trick, great, but I’m always curious to see if the spoon is coated enough or not, and I end up staring at spoons for way too long.)

Illustration for item titled Use a Plate to Check Your Sauce

When choosing the temperature of your plate, keep in mind how you plan to store or serve what you are going to cook. Jam makers test their goods with a cold plate to see how they gel. This makes sense because jams are usually stored in a cold environment. A little jam is placed on a plate that has been in the freezer for five minutes, then the plate is held vertically. When the jam slowly descends, it’s done. (You can also put the jam on a plate and then Put the plate in the freezer. If it gets stuck after a few minutes, you should be good.)

The plate doesn’t have to be so cold for sauces and sauces. Both are usually served on plates at room temperature (or slightly warm), so it makes more sense to test them on these than on something that has been chilled. When you think your sauce or sauce has reached its “end point”, take a spoon and pour it onto a plate at room temperature. Let him rest for a few seconds and watch how he behaves. If it’s a little more runny than you’d like, cook it longer and repeat the process until it’s thickened to your liking.