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Measurement and Conversions

It is important to weigh or measure all ingredients accurately, especially for beginners. There are cooks and chefs who seem to be able to produce good results by guesswork and intuition but they are generally people who have long experience of cooking, and have learnt by bitter experience and many failures.
Weighing Scale

Weighing is more accurate than measuring but it is essential to buy a good pair of scales as they should last a lifetime. The only accurate way of measuring is to use a level measures ie. Level off to the top of the measure or spoon with knife. A heaped spoonful can contain anything from 2 to 4 times as much as a level spoonful. A good selection of measuring cups and spoons (as listed below) can be very handy.

  • 1 Cup (C)
  • 1/2 C
  • 1/3 C
  • 1/4 C
  • 1/8 C
  • 1 Tablespoon (tbsp or T)
  • 1 Teaspoon (tsp or t)
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp

A clear glass measuring cup is necessary to get precise liquid measurements.


Dry Ingredients - The most important thing to know about measuring dry ingredients is that they should be level with the top of your measuring cup. Dip your cup into the bin, fill to overflowing and level it off by sweeping the edge of a knife across the top. Spoon flour and similar ingredients into measuring cups. Do not scoop the ingredient using the cup itself because this “packs” the cup too much and the measurement won’t be precise. Be careful if you are using a cup larger than what is needed (as in a 1 cup measure to get 1/2 C worth of ingredients). The same leveling technique should be used with measuring spoons.

Tips : Measure dry ingredients over a plate or bowl so you can catch the excess and put it back in the container.

Most ingredients don't need to be packed into the measuring cup. Granulated sugar does it for you. Flour should actually be aerated of fluffed up before measuring. Brown sugar is the one exception, this you want to pack down while measuring in order to get the proper amount.

Measure liquids at eye level. In other words, place the cup on a flat surface and crouch down so your eyes are at the same level as the cup in order to check the accuracy of the amount in the cup.

To measure solid fats (shortening, butter etc.) : Most butter has measurements listed on the wrapper, so you can simply cut off the amount you need. If that information is not available, to measure fats accurately, pack them down in the cup to get rid of air pockets. It’s easier to pack fats at room temperature. Another method that works well for butter and especially shortening is water displacement (this works for any fraction of a cup measurement). For instance, if you need 1/2 C shortening fill a 1 cup measure 1/2 full with water. Carefully add shortening to the cup until the water reaches the top of the cup. Drain the water and use the shortening.





fl. oz.
fluid ounce


See Also:

Temperature Measurements and Conversions
Weight Measurements and Conversions
Liquid Measurements and Conversions
Length Measurement and Conversions



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Last Modified: 11/28/11.