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Useful Kitchen Advice

Measuring Equipment / Dry and Solid Ingredients / Liquid Measurement / Measuring Tips

How to measure your ingredients is essential to successful cooking and baking. Some ingredients can affect considerably your dish, such as salt, baking soda, baking powder and hot or spicy ingredients, such as cayenne pepper. Here are some tips for measuring techniques every cook must know:

Measuring Equipment

There are different types of measuring tools used to measure the ingredients properly. The most used ones are listed below with a brief description.

Measuring Spoons

Measuring Spoons: Usually have at least 4 spoons, which are made of plastic or metal. They are used to measure small quantities of both dry and liquid ingredients. The set includes 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon. There are also sets that include 1/8 teaspoon, 3/4 teaspoon and 1/2 tablespoon.

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dry measuring cups

Dry Measuring Cups: They usually come in plastic or metal and in various sizes. There are also adjustable measuring cups available. The cup has a slide bar that can be adjusted to measure different amounts. Graduated and adjustable measuring cups are used to measure dry ingredients, such as flour, sugar, rice and solid ingredients, such as shortening and peanut butter.

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liquid measuring cups


Liquid Measuring Cups: Containers of glass or clear plastic with a pour spout and handle. They are generally available in 1 cup, 2 cup, 4 cup and 8 cup sizes, which have graduated measures on the side.

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Scales: Balance or spring scales are used to measure the weight of ingredients. Balance scales are more accurate than spring scales. Using a scale will assure a more accurate measurement of the ingredients than using the method of measuring by volume. Scales are available in manual and digital models.

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portion scoop



Portioning Scoops: These scoops are used for measuring, portioning, and forming. The measuring scoops are a popular utensil used by professional chefs. They are available in several sizes, which are numbered according to their volume, the higher the number, the smaller the volume. They are useful when making cookies, muffins or meatballs.

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mixing bowlsMixing Bowls: These are plastic, glass, or metal containers of different shapes into which ingredients can be placed, measured, and mixed.

There are glass and plastic measuring cups also available that are large enough to be used as mixing bowls. They range from an 8 to 12 cup capacity and are similar to liquid measuring cups in that they have a spout, handle, and measure markings down the side. They work well for large jobs and can be used for mixing and pouring batters, such as pancake or waffle batter.

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Dry and Solid Ingredients

For baking, in most cases, use a kitchen scale and measure the ingredient by weight for the most accurate quantity. Why? There can be a difference in how much of a dry ingredient, such as flour, is actually in a measuring tool. This depends on in which way it is added in measuring cup and by how much the ingredient is packed. Humidity is also a major factor in the weight of the dry ingredient. Using a scale to weigh the ingredient will ensure a more accurate measurement.

Methods for measuring dry and solid ingredients 

Here are some methods that should be used for some of the common ingredients measured using graduated measuring cups and spoons. 

For flour, sugar, oats, cornmeal, cereal, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and breadcrumbs, add enough in the measuring cup so that it is mounding over the top, and using the back of a knife, push the excess ingredient off by running the edge of the knife along the border of the cup or spoon.

 When measuring large ingredients such as shredded cheese, rice, coconut, chopped nuts, baking chips and other bulky dry ingredients, spoon them into the measuring device then pat them lightly to level the content. Do not pat down.

 When measuring brown sugar or solid fats like shortening, spoon the ingredients into the measuring tool and pack firmly to eliminate any air pockets. After firmly packed, level with a knife. The brown sugar will have the shape of the cup after removed from the measuring cup, if packed you correctly.

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Liquid Measurement

Methods for measuring liquid ingredients

 Use large transparent plastic or glass measuring cups, with pour spouts, to measure large quantities.

Use measuring spoons to measure small quantities of liquid ingredients.

When checking to see if the ingredient is at the desired level, have the measuring cup sitting on a flat, level surface and make sure it is  at your eye level. Do not hold the cup up to eye level because the cup may not be level when viewing and it may result in an inaccurate reading.

To make sure sticky liquids such as honey or molasses won't cling to the measuring cup, grease the cup or spray it with nonstick cooking spray first.

Or you can remove sticky ingredients by using metal measuring cups or spoons and filling them with boiling water for a few minutes and then pouring the ingredients in them.

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Measuring Tips

 Never measure over the mixing bowl containing the other ingredients. You may accidentally spill the measuring device or the ingredients the mixture. This could ruin the whole batch. You must measure over the sink, another bowl, or a sheet of paper.

 Measure the dry ingredients first and then use the measuring cups and spoons for the liquid ingredients.

 Store loose dry ingredients, such as salt, in a lidded container. The ingredient can then be spooned out and leveled, rather than trying to pour it into a measuring spoon and having it spill over the edges.

 To help you remember easier which ingredients you have measured and added in the mixing bowl, place all the ingredients on one side of the mixing bowl and once you have measure and add an ingredient, move its container to the opposite side of the bowl.

 Try to calculate approximately the small measurements of ingredient to save time. Pour the measured amount of an ingredient into the palm of your hand. Observe the look and feel of the quantity and then try to pour that same amount into your palm without measuring first. Do not use this method when measuring ingredients for baking. When baking, it is more critical to measure the ingredients accurately.

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