I asked my friend’s mother the other day, why don’t you use a scale, it is easier and more accurate. She replied that using a scale was too complicated.
This post will hopefully erase her, and your fear of scales. Why do you need to use a scale in your kitchen?
- Once you let them into your life, you will wonder why you ever stuck to cups, teaspoons and the like. Seriously, nothing is easier than measuring out ingredients with a scale.
- Taring. With cups and volume measures you need to worry about whether the ingredient is sifted, the ingredient is leveled off, or if you banged it on the counter. With a scale, you add the ingredients, reset the scale to zero, and continue.
- Consistency. With volume measurements, your recipe is different every time. Even with liquid measurements, most vessels are just too difficult to judge whether you have the correct amount of liquid. Weight never lies, and once you establish a weight for volume with your liquids, you can never go wrong.
- Speed. One of the arguments against scales is that they slow down the process of measurement. I disagree. Once you get into the power of tare, you will find that your recipes become a snap to measure. You no longer have to level off flour with the back of a knife, or pack your brown sugar down.
- Accuracy in recipes. Have you ever given a recipe to a colleague or a friend, to have them tell you the recipe is not correct? With a scale, it is hard to mess up the amounts that go into a recipe. An example is brown sugar. Is it packed into a cup? How packed? With a scale, that does not matter. Write down 100 grams of brown sugar, and we call it a day.
- It’s 2009, not 1970. Seriously, today scales are cheap. Even a professional scale which measures into half grams will cost the average user $100. Chances you are not going to need that amount of complexity. Before you balk at the price though, consider this: a set of stainless measuring cups and measuring spoons will run you around the same amount of money.
- Every other country aside from North America uses scales. Here we are then; a recipe for Vanilla Crescents in the Czech Republic has everything listed in grams. Sure, you live in North America, so why care? Well, the internet is here to stay, so why junk that resource?
- You are not stupid. Guidelines in food magazines stick to the old system of volume measurements because they believe you are stupid. See, you are not able to get away from your cups because it will be too complicated. I know you, dear reader, and I do not believe it for a second.
Of course there are problems. Practically every magazine on sale in North America lists all ingredients in volume measurements. How do we proceed when these magazines insist on sticking to the old standard?
Simple, we have to establish some guidelines when translating recipes. How much does a cup of flour weigh? I will be posting some guidelines in later posts about the weight equivalents of common measurements. In the case where you get stuck, you can ask me, or another great online resource is the fabulous Gourmet Sleuth’s Kitchen Conversion Calculator.
I will also have a post detailing how to measure ingredients in sequence on a scale. (How to Use a Scale Tare to Measure Your Ingredients in a Recipe)
Is there a time when volume measurements are okay? Sure, especially when dealing with small amounts of spices, or salts. An example is when you have a recipe that calls for ¼ teaspoon of oregano. That will weigh less than a gram, so it makes sense to use a volume measurement. When you scale the recipe to larger amounts of portions, you would then measure the amount and find your weight for it. You use a scale at that point.
Finally, you may have noticed that my recipes are all listed in gram format and volume measurements second. I believe that you are all intelligent enough to use a scale.