To Weigh or Not to Weigh, That is the Question…

Have you ever been perusing the cookbook section at your local bookstore looking for the latest and greatest to read in the bathtub?  I do.  Ok, I’m a little odd in that I not only read cookbooks from cover to cover, but yes, I do actually read them while relaxing in a hot bubble bath.  Uhem…. back to the subject…

If you look at a lot of professional cookbooks, especially in the baking section, you will notice that a lot of them measure by weight instead of by standard measuring equipment.  Let us take a brief minute to discuss my all time favorite kitchen collectible; measuring cups and spoons.  Yup, I love ’em.  I can never have enough of the little beauties.  With so many beautiful measuring cups and spoons available, why in the world would any chef or cook want to measure by weight you ask?  Because weight is a true method of measurement.  When it comes to liquid ingredients measure cups work (IF you use a LIQUID measuring cup, liquid and dry measuring cups are different for a reason…and not just because it is easier to pour the liquids from the measuring cups with the use of a spout).  When it comes to dry ingredients things can become a little tricky when accuracy is key to turning out a dish, especially in baking.

Dry goods weigh differently than liquid, so a fluid ounce will not weigh the same as two tablespoons of flour.  Also in standard American measuring equipment there can be slight variations in the actual sizes.  Adding to the problem with accurate measurement is home cooks will measure differently.  For example flour, if you spoon your flour into the measuring cup lightly then level it off the flour would weigh less than if you scoop your flour into the measuring cup and then level it off.  Chances are pretty good when using the scooping method the flour will weigh more than the spoon method (which, by the way, is the preferred method for measuring flour).  While it may be a little daunting at first, measuring ingredients will ensure accurate, even results in recipes every time.  So next time you pick up a cookbook that uses weight measurements, don’t put it back on the shelf just because measuring by weight is unfamiliar.  Pick yourself up a small scale and give those recipes a try, you just might be amazed by the results.

Happy Cooking!

Chef’s Tip:

For ease when using a scale to measure food, place the container you intend to use to hold your ingredients on the scale and then tare (zero) the scale so that the scale does not count the weight of your container, just the substance you are actually weighing.

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 9:43 AM  Leave a Comment  

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