- Extract the essence from (something) by heating or boiling it.
“The first step in the recipe is to decoct the flavor from the onions by simmering them slowly in butter.”
“I decoct overripe fruit to give my bread a rich banana flavor.”
“I make holiday gifts by decocting vanilla and peppermint extracts and bottling them in pretty containers.”
Latin, mid-16th century
Why this word?
The word “decoct” is almost exclusively found in the kitchen. It means “to extract the essence (flavor) from something by heating or boiling it.” When a bundle of herbs is added to a stew, then removed after simmering, that decocts the flavor of the herbs but a diner doesn’t have to deal with leaves and stems in their meal. Or when fruit and sugar are added to a pot of water, and it turns into a thickened syrup infused with flavor, that’s a decoction (the noun form of the term). The Latin verb “decoquere” is formed from “de-” (meaning “down”) and “coquere” (meaning “to cook”).
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