4 Basic Things You Need To Know About Measures!
Photo and text by Panos Diotis and Mirella Kaloglou
Every cook (professional or amateur) knows the importance of using the right measurements when counting and weighing the ingredients.
In this article we‘ll try to give you some essential information regarding spoon measures, oven temperatures, cups & milliliters, pounds, ounces and kilograms (we also used as a source the famous Larousse Gastronomique).
First, a general tip: Usually when cooking, it's best to follow only one type of measures, to avoid confusion. So it's either a) cups, b) metric or c) imperial.
The web has provided us with millions of recipes from around the world. But since we don’t use the same system in all countries, it’s important to have a point of reference to look up to, when measuring the ingredients.
So here are the basic things about measures you will need for your culinary creations!
1. Spoon measures:
As far as spoon measures are concerned, it's best to use the standard measuring utensils and not regular teaspoons or tablespoons you have for everyday usage, because their capacity differs due to design or manufacturing process.
After all, when you read a recipe on a book or the web, the tablespoons or teaspoons referenced have a specific capacity which is the following:
2. Oven temperatures
The temperatures below are set for domestic ovens. But you must have in mind that each oven performs differently.
So, when cooking a chef's recipe, keep in mind that they are accustomed to cooking in high temperatures and professional ovens. This means that if you try cooking their recipes at home, you must always adjust the cooking time for a domestic oven or appliance, usually adding much more time.
If you’re cooking a blog’s / home cook’s recipe, it will most probably have been tested using a domestic oven, so the cooking time is more less the one you‘ll also need as well. But always, always, take a good look at your food, to see if it’s ready.
A basic oven temperature conversion chart is the following:
3. Liquids: Cups and Milliliters
In most parts of Europe, we’re quite accustomed to using ml (Mililiters) to measuring liquid materials. Many home appliances have imprinted such measurements on their bowls / pitchers.
Similar cup and fl oz measurements are imprinted in countries using the imperial system.
In both cases, do try to use those, when cooking a recipe. We know that you don’t want to add more stuff on your kitchen counter when preparing food, but it’s important to follow the cook’s instructions. You’ll see that soon that it’s very important using them, to avoid oily or dry results.
Many cooks (us included), also use measuring cups, which also have the equivalent to milliliters imprinted on them. We think they’re pretty handy, so give them a try if you spot them while shopping for your kitchen.
A basic conversion table for liquids is the following:
Depending on the country (and sometimes the cook) the cup may be equal to 240ml or 250ml. When a recipes calls for a cup of liquid(which is plenty), then you don’t have to worry that much if it’s 240ml or 250ml, as the difference between them is just 2 tablespoons, which won’t make or break your dish. The same goes for measuring in cups instead of liters.
When you‘re making sweets/desserts though, measuring is very very important and you have to be accurate. In such cases, always prefer using weight instead of volume when measuring the ingredients. Many pastry chefs are providing their recipes using weight measurements instead of cups and spoons, for reasons of accuracy.
4. Weighing kilograms, grams, ounces and pounds (or livres):
The unit of mass in the imperial system is the pound (lb). When measuring smaller quantity of ingredients, we also use ounces (oz).
In the metric system, used in the greater part of Europe, we‘re accustomed to using grams and Kilograms. So, what’s the equivalence between the two systems?
Here’s a basic weight conversion chart with key measures for the metric and the imperial systems:
We see in the table above that a 1 kilogram is about the same with 2lbs. The difference is only 90gr/3oz, which isn’t that important when you cook meat or vegetables and the recipe calls for 1 kilogram of them. The same goes for the half a kilogram, which is about the same with 1lb.
Again, as mentioned before, this does not work when making desserts & sweets, where we must always be very accurate.