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Measuring Different Ingredients in Cooking...by Jerry Drew
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Learning how to measure ingredients is essential when you are learning how to
cook. The correct balance of ingredients is what makes food taste good. We all
know when there is too much salt in something, and can certainly tell when
something is too spicy or bitter.

Professional cooks make it look so easy by just throwing in a dash of this or a
pinch of that, but they have the experience and the feel for measuring without
always having to use the exact measuring tool.
When you are learning how to cook, it is best to try to be precise with all your
measurements.

My guest blogger from England, Jon Sacker, taught us how to measure by weight.
In the US, we mostly measure by volume.

(Be sure not to confuse the term “fluid ounces�� with the term “ounces�� that we
use when referring to weight. Ounces measure weight, fluid ounces measure
volume.)

The three basic tools used to measure ingredients in cooking are:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cups

Measuring Spoons
A basic set of measuring spoons
come with 5 spoons:

  • 1/8 teaspoon
  • ¼ teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 Tablespoon
Recipes are always written with the small t representing teaspoon and the capital T
representing tablespoon.

By the way,
3 teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon; Who Knew?

Even though the words are the same, standard measuring spoons are *not* the
same as the teaspoons and tablespoons in the drawer that you use to eat with.

Even though the words are the same, standard measuring spoons are *not* the
same as the teaspoons and tablespoons in the drawer that you use to eat with.
It is very important to be exact when measuring things like baking powder and
baking soda.

(These are leavening agents which means they make things rise.) Always even off
the top of the measuring spoon with the straight edge of a knife.
When measuring spices the spoon often doesn’t fit into the mouth of the spice jar.
Pour some spice in a small bowl and then measure.
To get the spice back into the jar make a funnel out of paper and it just pour the
unused spice back into the jar!
Dry Measuring Cups
Dry measuring cups are usually made of metal or plastic and have an even rim.
You dip the cup into the dry ingredients and level off with the straight edge of a
knife.

(Again, don’t confuse the word “cup" in a recipe with cups that are used for
drinking.)
This is method of measuring is called “dip and sweep"
To measure brown sugar always use dry measuring cups. You need to always
pack the brown sugar into the measuring cup. This would be very difficult and not
very accurate with a liquid measuring cup.
If you need to measure anything sticky like honey, syrups, or even peanut butter,
spray the measuring cup with vegetable spray. This will help the sticky ingredients
slip right out of the measure when you’re done.
Liquid Measuring Cups
Finally, there are liquid measuring cups, which have a pour spout and a handle
which helps when adding the liquid ingredients to your other ingredients. The
measurement markings are down from the rim, which helps to prevent spilling.
There are 8 fluid ounces per cup.

Tempted as you might be to use your kitchen glasses to measure, do you know
how many ounces of liquid your kitchen glasses hold?
When you’re measuring liquids, be sure to look on the outside, not the inside of
the cup. Always look at eye level, but don’t hold the cup up to your eye level. I
guarantee you will not be able to hold it steady or level and your measuring will be
off.

Put the cup on a flat surface, bend down and look at the outside of the cup to get
an accurate measurement

There are some liquid measuring cups on the market today, specifically designed
to look down into the cup for the proper measurement. For today, we are using
only the classic glass measuring cup.
Measuring Tips
It’s best not to measure ingredients over your mixing bowl. If you are adding a
teaspoon of salt, for example, and are measuring it over a cup of flour, if the box of
salt slips, you could ruin your creation!

If a recipe calls for a pinch of something, it is literally what fits between your thumb
and forefinger, or about 1/16 teaspoon!

A pinch is smaller than a dash.

So a dash is bigger than 1/16 of a teaspoon but... less than and 1/8 teaspoon of
dry ingredients. I know this sounds ridiculous!

Fortunately a pinch and a dash usually refer to salt, and that is according to your
own taste!

Scant, on the other hand just means “slightly less than." For example a scant ½
cup would mean slightly less than ½ cup.

And of course heaping is slightly more, in fact overflowing!

For now...that’s all you need to know about measuring!

Cheers!
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JANUARY 2010 EDITION - Updated Weekly