Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back to Basics--Proper Measuring Equipment

At the risk of boring you to death with stuff you already know, please bear with me!! Daily I watch folks professional chefs measure ingredients incorrectly.  The finished product they show their viewers is always perfect, and it should be with enough photographic touch ups.

Teaching my high school home economics students how to measure correctly was the spot we always began semester after semester. We will revisit how to read and analyze recipes a little later. But, for now let's look at just the equipment needed.

There are three basic types of measures required for cooking:
  1. Liquid
  2. Dry
  3. Weight
#1 For me, I relay on 3 basic liquid measuring cups: a 1-cup, a 2-cup and a 4 cup measure. I do have 8 and 12 cup batter bowls which look like a regular measuring cup on steroids, but the basic three are more than sufficient for the basic three. 

Basic 1-cup measure

Basic 2-cup measure

Basic 4-cup measure

What do you measure in liquid measuring cups? Just that, anything liquid. We will talk more about the correct way to do this in the next post. KEY POINT: Never, but never, measure anything that is dry in these cups.

#2 I rely on a 4-piece stainless steel set of dry measuring cups. Actually, I have several, but I cook a lot!

4-piece dry measure set
What type of ingredients can be measured in these? Anything that is dry--flours, meals, sugar, gluten free rolled oats, ground gluten free cookie crumbs and the list goes on and on and on. We will talk about this such as shortening, butter ad brown sugar in a later post. 

#3 I keep a set of accurate kitchen scales in my kitchen. Occasionally, a recipe will call for a specific weight, which is actually the most accurate method of measuring. Come on now--wouldn't 6-ounces of chopped onions be easier to measure accurately than say 1 small onion chopped, whatever that means.

Weight measure
#4 Measuring spoons are another tool required for accurate measure of dry OR liquid ingredients. For example, dry ingredients such spices and herbs, salt, leavening ingredients like baking powder or baking soda can be precisely measured as can liquid ingredients such as flavorings, olive oil and such. I prefer the longer handles, standard versions. 

Measuring Spoons
 The next post will describe with pictures how to use each of these, plus add a couple more measuring equipment that are needed to do a really good job.

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