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Why I use weight to measure ingredients and write my recipes

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Why I use weight to measure my ingredients

There are two ways to measure ingredients and food for cooking: volume and weight. We all tend to use both at different times and often cookbooks and websites use both within one recipe.

Volume and weight, for measuring ingredients, both have their advantages.

Volume varies

Volume varies across the globe so the actual size of the measurement changes depending on where you live. The simple measurement of ‘1 Cup’ in the United State is different to ‘1 Cup’ by Australian standards. It’s the same with teaspoons and tablespoons.

Weight remains the same

Measuring by weight doesn’t change. The scale (metric or imperial etc) changes from country to country but the description of that measurement doesn’t. A gram is a gram and an ounce is always an ounce. A tablespoon, however, is different depending on where you live.

I like to make things easy.


My #1 REASON FOR MEASURING IN WEIGHT – EASE!

The process and the clean up is easier

First and foremost the #1 reason I measure in weight is ease. 1 tool can manage 1000 measurements. No need to pull out a teaspoon, tablespoon, cup, 1/4 cup and so on. No need to get them dirty. No need to wash, dry and put them away. Bliss!

All digital scales (and a lot of mechanical ones) allow you to TARE Which means: return to zero after the addition of each measurement.

So… you can keep the bowl on the scales and measure each ingredient straight into the bowl. It’s so easy!

Shopping for ingredients is also easier.

Most ingredients come as weight measurements. For example, flour comes in 1kg and 2kg packets. As an example, if a recipe for making sourdough pizza bases calls for recipes for 6.5 cups of flour, how will you know how much flour to buy? However, if the recipe says you need 1kg of flour… you know exactly how much to purchase! No waste. No guessing either!

Again, it’s just easy.

The cool link between millilitres and grams

Also, in Australia (where I am from) the metric system of millilitres and grams are the SAME for many common wet ingredients such as water, whole milk, skim milk, coconut milk, almond milk and soy milk.

This means the measurement in mls is the same in grams.

So if the recipe requires 240mls, you can easily convert the measurement to weight.

E.g 240ml will be 240 grams!

And vice versa. You can convert grams back to mls to make it easier for shopping wet ingredients, like coconut milk which come in millilitre measurements.

Why I measure in volume

#2 REASON – MAKE NO MISTAKE

Another reason I measure in weight is accuracy. You can’t under or over measure the ingredient as easily because it removes the ambiguity of the measurement – “Does the recipe mean 1 Aussie cup of flour or 1 American cup? Hmmmm.. One heaped teaspoon or one level teaspoon?”

This ambiguity and international measuring differences do matter when combining with other ingredients which have standard measurements that don’t change, such as eggs. One smaller ‘cup’ of flour will give you more egg to dry ingredients, making a wetter mix. 1 larger ‘cup’ of flour will do the opposite, not enough egg per portion of flour. Most of the time it won’t really matter but if you live in a different country to the author of the recipe, it’s possible that your standard of measurement will not be equal to theirs if you’re both using volume.

Product development

When I was developing the process and recipe for avoiding flat sourdough bread, without kneading, I wrote the recipes in volume thinking it would be the easiest for most people. I was, however, always using weight myself. So I weighed the amounts and then measured them in cups etc to convert. It worked a treat! Until there were issues.

It took some troubleshooting to work out why some loaves of bread were denser than others. Dough was tighter. Dough was wetter. Loaves were larger and some smaller. To get to the bottom of it, I weighed several brands of flour then measured their volume. They were all different. All measuring the same weight, some measured 2.5 cups in volume, others 3.5 cups. It turns out that some flours are heavier than others.

2.5 cups of the heavier flour weighed 415g. Which was perfect for 270g water. But when I measured 2.5 cups of the lighter flour, it was the same volume but weighed only 360g. The dough was very wet because there was not enough flour for the same amount/weight of water.

You see, water doesn’t change in weight per volume. It’s never heavier or lighter, always the same. Flour, however, does.

The absorption of water is proportional to the weight of the flour, not the volume, at least in my experience with sourdough. Heavier flours absorb more water at smaller volume measurements. They are denser and can handle the wet. Lighter flours, can take on the same amount of water but at larger volumes. They are more delicate and don’t take on water as densely, so more flour is required to get the same consistency. Weighing the flours, brought better equality back between all brands. There can still be differences as each flour has its own density and unique interaction with water, however, the flour per water ratio will be more similar through weighing.

So that’s why I measure in weight.

It also means there is just the one measurement system within each recipe. Again, it’s just easy.


SCALES DON’T HAVE TO BE FANCY

It’s true that digital scales can be temperamental. They are however worth the persistence and they don’t need to be expensive. I have had an expensive Tupperware scale and a cheap supermarket one. They both worked well. Functionality is what you need for this.

Look for:
– 1g Accuracy
– Check the maximum weight. If you plan to make things that can be heavy or in bulk, like salami, you’ll want a maximum weight of 10kg or more.
– Size of the measuring plate. Small scales are nice to store but they are often not easy to use with large or wide bowls, Tupperware containers or even bags of ingredients.
– Most scales will offer the entire range of measurement options such as imperial and metric, but check that it has what you need
– Batteries. Your scales may come with a battery already installed but its worth checking, especially if you want to be able to use it straight away.

If you are looking for scales, here

01 comment

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Writer, Designer, Creative, Sydney Sider.

1 Comment

Valerie Marinko

I have scales from now on in I will weight thanks it makes perfect sense

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