Measuring Ingredients

Measuring Tools for Liquid and Dry Ingredients

Typical measuring cups and spoons have handles, evidence of the assumption that the user has a hand available to hold the handles and another hand to hold and manipulate the ingredient container, particularly liquid ingredients. In the case of dry ingredients, one hand holds the measuring cup or spoon and the other hand scrapes excess ingredient to level the ingredient to the rim of the measuring container.

Glass measuring cups with a handle typically have incremental markings on the side. With some type scoop or gravy ladle, the one-arm cook can successfully fill the measuring cup with dry ingredients to the desired quantity. Measuring liquids is easy with common measuring cups, provided the cup sits flat on the work surface and the functioning arm can control the pour.

Measuring spoons get trickier. A “spoon” typically includes a rounded container with a handle. A spoon can be used to dip dry ingredients and be shaken to dislodge excess material. Most liquid containers are designed for pouring the ingredient into the measuring device. The problem is that it may be difficult to set the round-bottomed spoon flat and level to receive the liquid. The easiest measuring spoons have a flat bottom; these should stay level when set on the work surface.

I have used flat-bottomed stainless steel cups and spoons as well as collapsible silicone cups and spoons. Of the two types, I prefer the stainless steel material. I see no advantage to using collapsible tools and the metal tools provide a clean-cut hard top edge.

Another good solution for measuring liquid ingredients is to use measuring beakers marked with cooking gradients or a measuring jigger that shows teaspoons as well as ounces. If you shop for beakers, just be sure to buy containers marked in the proper units of measure. Many beakers are made with a pour spout, which is handy, especially for liquids.

Tip: If you are measuring honey or molasses, try spraying the measuring container with cooking oil spray before it contacts the viscous material. The oil will help the sticky ingredients release.

Measuring Tools for Sticky Ingredients & Mixtures

If the ingredient won’t fall or pour out of the measuring container, a substitute for a second hand is needed. The best solution I have found is a scoop with a sweeper.  These are variously called ice cream scoops, melon ballers, cookie dough scoops, and in the food service industry, dishers. Disher scoops are made in many sizes and their purpose is to control portion size. These tools are ambidextrous in that you can squeeze the trigger handles together with either hand. Squeezing the handles together causes the sweeper bar to pass under the material in the scoop and dislodge it. Turning the scoop sideways then allows the material to fall out of the scoop.

Dishers, of course, can be used to scoop ice cream, tuna salad, and just about any dish that sticks together. Dishers can also be used to measure butter, shortening, and peanut butter. A good spray of cooking oil, inside and outside the scoop bowl, can be a help in releasing peanut butter and other really sticky substances. If you are not sure of the measurement, you can use the trick of filling a measuring container with a specified amount of water, drop the scoop of your sticky ingredient into the water and read the measurement again to see how much ingredient you added to the water.

See the table for measurement correlated to disher number. Bear in mind that there may be some variation in the volume from different manufacturers; however, for most recipes, these small variations will be insignificant. Also note that the sweeper won’t clean the scoop bowl perfectly; there will be some waste.