The kitchen provides a vast range of opportunities for us, as long as we’re motivated enough to take the plunge. There are so many baking and cooking recipes to try out, though you can also concentrate on making different kinds of sauces.
No matter what you want to work on, it’s essential that you know about measuring ingredients properly. A pinch of this, a dash of that, and you may end up with a failed recipe, with wanted ingredients and a broken heart. For the benefit of everyone concerned–including the state of the kitchen–every novice cook or baker should learn how they can measure things out in the kitchen.
It’s not just about measuring ingredients, either. One should know how to measure many other items, such as seasonings, pasta, cereals, etc. Let’s get on this discussion in more detail:
Measuring Cups and Spoons
A decent set of measuring cups and spoons will help you get the amounts of ingredients just right when following a recipe. These tools might be made of plastic, silicone, stainless steel, or even wood in some cases. There might not be an industry standard for the measurements yet, but look around to find the sizes that you most commonly use.
When you’re measuring with these tools, there are certain rules and hacks that can help you out. Some examples include:
- Oil the inside of a cup or spoon before pouring in a sticky ingredient like honey or syrup. This will make the whole amount slip out easily with minimal mess, also saving your time.
- Level off the dry ingredients unless the recipe says otherwise
- There are different measuring cups for dry and wet ingredients. You’d probably have to get a clear jug for the liquid items.
- Make sure the materials for your measuring cups and spoons are BPA-free and/or food grade.
- There are several models of cups and spoons on the market today, with some having a sliding apparatus for leveling off the contents.
- If you want to save as much space as possible, there are also adjustable measuring cups and spoons available.
Managing Without Measuring Cups or Spoons
If you find yourself without a set of measuring cups or spoons, there’s no need to panic just yet. You can always buy a new set if you don’t have one yet. The same goes for when your set is lost, broken, or lent out to someone. Fortunately, as long as your recipe isn’t too precise, there are ways to measure ingredients when you don’t have measuring cups.
One way of measuring fairly accurately is to estimate the measurements with items of a similar size. For instance, you can keep in mind that a ping-pong ball’s volume is almost equal to that of two tablespoons. A standard ice-cube or the depression on a soda can’s underside will be roughly equal to a tablespoon.
For the teaspoon measure, you can take half the teaspoon we usually have for eating desserts. Estimate the volume of a baseball for one whole cup, a light bulb or tennis ball for half a cup. A quarter cup is roughly equal to a medium-sized egg.
When you have these items around, other odd measures might also seem easier. For example, the tennis ball measure will help you get one-third of a cup—make it a little less than the whole ball.
Estimate With the Hands
There’s also a way to use your hands for measuring ingredients. Don’t get confused here; we all have different hand sizes. If you think you have overly large hands, go for a slightly smaller amount than they give. The opposite goes for those with smaller hands than average. Once you get the hang of it, cooking might become a lot quicker and easier.
Take a pinch of a dry ingredient between your thumb, middle finger, and index finger. This is known as a pinch, and is generally equal to one-eighth of a teaspoon. Double this to make a quarter teaspoon, and so on.
One teaspoon will be equal to the top joint of your index finger, while a tablespoon will be around the size of your thumb. A heaping handful or your whole fist will probably measure around one cup.
If you’re going with this practice, make sure to have good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly beforehand and after touching any surface. You can also choose to wear disposable gloves, but they might make the dry ingredients slip around.
Cookie scoops usually come with a trigger on the handle, which makes it easy to release the ingredient you’ve scooped. This ingredient could be cookie dough, ice cream, or any thick substance that you want to measure.
These scoops also come in various sizes, similar to measuring spoons. They’re great for doling out your cookie dough in exactly the same size, ensuring that you get a uniform and professional result. You can select a scoop that takes out two tablespoons of dough at a time; this will give a nice regular-sized cookie.
Cookie scoops will also help you measure out ice cream at parties or any other occasion. If you’re making muffins or cupcakes, these scoops will also help you get the same size of cakes each time.
If you’re experienced or confident enough, simply eyeballing an ingredient might work for some recipes. However, this isn’t usually a recommended practice. Even professional chefs may utilize measuring cups, spoons, and other tools just to make sure of their ingredients. If they have to do it, we should also take this precaution.
However, many cooking recipes could allow you to estimate some of its ingredients. You may also want to adjust a certain item, such as salt or sugar, according to taste. If that’s the case, just looking at a certain amount could help you decide whether it’s enough or not.
It might also be possible to train yourself in eyeballing amounts. Once you have this skill down, your cooking time will certainly speed up. Again, we don’t recommend this for baking recipes.
When you do have proper measurement utensils on hand, pour or measure some specific amounts and then put them in your hand. See how the ingredient looks, for example, a teaspoon of salt, and how weighty it feels. If you set aside some time for conducting this practice beforehand, you’d be able to stay familiar with the appearance and weight of an ingredient and its various amounts.
A Digital Kitchen Scale
If you can get a nice model from a known brand, having a kitchen scale could be the best decision for your everyday cooking and baking. This little gadget will save you from storing, washing, and handling all those cups and spoons. All you have to do is put the ingredient on the scale (use parchment paper if you don’t want to dirty a container) and see whether its weight is equal to what the recipe calls for.
A scale will ensure that you get exactly the right amount of ingredients required for a recipe, thus saving time, energy, and the food items as well. However, make sure you calibrate it before starting the measuring process. Place the empty container or paper on the scale and set the latter to zero. This will allow you to accurately measure the ounces and grams of each ingredient. The best part; you can use the scale to measure wet, dry, thick, and liquid ingredients.
Handling a kitchen without measuring tools or some know-how of measuring is simply not possible. You need to have somewhat precise measurements for your cooking and baking projects, whether it’s something simple like sauces or a bit complicated like making homemade gummy bears.
The good news is that once you get the hang of this measuring step, you can probably tackle many difficult recipes. They might seem intimidating, but start measuring and laying out all the ingredients beforehand will make the process much easier.