Measurements and Conversions 101

Eyeballing and guesstimating ingredients can mean the difference between having a proper home cooked dinner and placing a last-minute pizza order.

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Proper measurement is imperative to the success or failure of a recipe. Although cooking is more flexible than baking, you still need to follow the basic rules of measuring in order to yield good results. 

IMPERIAL AND METRIC MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS

How often do you stumble upon an interesting recipe only to find out that the unit of measurement used is completely foreign to you? 

Even though the majority of the world’s countries run on the metric system, Liberia, Myanmar, and the USA still use imperial measurements, so the odds of coming across a recipe that uses units you’re not familiar with are quite high. That being said, it’s essential to know how to convert between these two measurement systems to be able to cook any recipe without having to worry about how you’re going to measure your ingredients.

Cooking measurement conversions can be really confusing, but don’t let this measurement madness sway you from trying new recipes. The key in converting measurements easily is knowing the difference in measuring wet and dry ingredients. Once you have that sorted out, it’s so much easier to convert them to whichever measurement system you need.

The key in converting measurements easily is knowing the difference in measuring wet and dry ingredients.

HOW TO MEASURE DRY INGREDIENTS

To properly measure dry ingredients such as flour, sugar, oats, cornmeal, and breadcrumbs, make sure to stir it first in its storage container before scooping it out. Dry ingredients such as flour tend to get compressed in its container, so it’s important to loosen it up before measuring. Using a spoon, gently scoop out your dry ingredient from its container and transfer it to the measuring cup. Directly scooping the measuring cup into the container will just yield an inaccurate measurement.

Do not tap, shake, or pack the ingredient into the measuring cup to level it off. Instead, use the back of a knife or a flat blade spatula to even it out with the cup’s top edge. The only exception to this rule is with brown sugar. Brown sugar must always be pressed or packed into your measuring cup.

You may have found that more recipe writers are including weight measurements in their recipes. That’s because weight measurement is by far the best way to guarantee accuracy, especially in baking. If you don't own a digital kitchen scale yet, get one. They're not that expensive and they’ll make your life a lot easier.  

Dry ingredients such as flour tend to get compressed in its container, so it’s important to loosen it up before measuring.

HOW TO MEASURE WET INGREDIENTS

Use a liquid measuring cup to properly measure ingredients such as water, stock, milk, and other liquids. A liquid measuring cup is a transparent plastic or glass cup with measurement markings such as cups, ounces, and milliliters printed outside the cup. These measuring cups also come with a handle and a pour spout for easy transfer.

To get the most accurate measurement, bend down and look at the liquid measuring cup at eye-level as you pour. Pour your liquid ingredient until the bottom of the meniscus is at the measurement you need.

A small amount of liquid ingredients can be measured using a measuring spoon. Just make sure that you don’t measure directly over your pot or mixing bowl to avoid spillage. 

Overall, you really do need both dry and liquid measuring cups. Technically, they hold the same volume, but they are specially designed to more accurately measure their respective ingredients.

HOW TO MEASURE VISCOUS INGREDIENTS

Viscous ingredients such as peanut butter, yogurt, sour cream, jams, and hummus can be measured just like dry ingredients. Spoon in the ingredient into your measuring cup and level it off without shaking, packing, and tapping. On the other hand, sticky ingredients such as molasses, maple syrup, and honey can be measured with either a dry or liquid measuring cup.