Cooking weights and measures

Table of contents
1 United States Measures
2 British (Imperial) measures
3 Metric measures
4 Special Instructions
5 External Link

United States Measures

Note that the measurements in this section are in US customary units.

Measures are classified as either dry measures or fluid measures. Fluid measures are measures of volume, while dry measures are measures of weight. Whether the ingredient you are measuring is dry or fluid really doesn't matter, and will only confuse you. Simply use the measure that is specified in your recipe.

US recipes are almost always in terms of volume.

Dry Measures:

Pinch = approx. 1/8 teaspoon
1 Dry Ounce (Oz.) = 16 drams = 1/16 pound = 28.35 g
1 Peck = 8 quarts = 2 gallons = 1/4 bushel
1 Pound (lb.) = 16 ounces = 453.6 g

Fluid Measures:

1 Drop = 1/76 teaspoon
1 Dash = 6 drops
1 Teaspoon (t.) = 76 drops = 1/3 tablespoon = 4.93 ml
1 Tablespoon (T.) = 1/16 cup or 1/2 fluid ounce = 3 teaspoons = 14.79 ml
1 Fluid Ounce (Oz.) = 1/16 pint = 29.57 ml
1 Jigger = 1 1/2 fluid ounces = 44.36 ml
1 Gill = 4 fluid ounces = 118 ml
1 Cup (c.) = 8 fluid ounces = 16 tablespoons = 237 ml
1 Pint (pt.) = 16 fluid ounces = 2 cups = 473 ml
1 Fifth = 25.6 fluid ounces = 757 ml
1 Quart (qt.) = 32 fluid ounces = 2 pints = 946 ml

Note that often no difference is made between fluids and solids, and so a cup may very well be used to measure flour.

British (Imperial) measures

Note that measurements in this section are in
Imperial units

Traditional British measures distinguish between weight and volume.

  • Weight is measured in pounds and ounces (16oz = 1lb = 0.4545Kg)
  • Volume is measured in pints and fluid ounces (20fl.oz = 1pt = 568ml)
The "cup" is little used as a measure in the UK, although the practised cook will be aware of it from reading American recipes. Older recipes may well give measurements in cups; in so far as a standard cup was used, it was usually half a pint (sometimes a third of a pint), but if the recipe is one that has been handed down in a family, it is just as likely to refer to someone's favourite kitchen cup as to that standard.

American cooks using British recipes, and vice versa, need to be careful with pints and fluid ounces. A US pint is 473 ml, while a UK pint is 568 ml, a fifth larger. A US fluid ounce is 1/16 of a US pint (29.4 ml); a UK fluid ounce is 1/20th of a UK pint (28.4 ml)

On a larger scale, perhaps for institutional cookery, it must be noted that a UK gallon is eight 20oz pints (4.54 liters) whereas the US gallon is eight 16oz pints (3.78 liters).

The Metric system was officially adopted in the UK for most purposes, some decades ago, and both taught in schools and used in books. It is now mandatory for the sale of food. However, a very large part of the population continues to use Imperial measures. Most modern cookery books give ingredients in both units.

Metric measures

In the rest of the world recipes use the metric system of litres (l) and millilitres (ml), gramss (g) and kilograms (kg), and degrees celsius (°C).

In addition to these, some measures are often redefined in terms of metric units. Most countries use the following units:

1 teaspoon (t) = 5 millilitres
1 dessertspoon (D) = 2 teaspoons = 10 millilitres
1 tablespoon (T) = 3 teaspoons = 15 millilitres
1 cup (c) = 250 millilitres

However, Australian recipes use a 15 ml dessertspoon and a 20 ml tablespoon. And in New Zealand, at least, a pint may be approximated as 600 ml.

Special Instructions

You will sometimes encounter additional instructions that are required to get the correct amount of the ingredient. For example, a recipe might request "1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed", or "2 heaping cups flour." If you encounter one of these special requests, consult the table below:

Firmly Packed
With a spatula, a spoon, or your hand, tightly press the ingredient into the measuring cup. You should measure as much of the ingredient as you can fit into the measure.

Lightly Packed
Press the ingredient into the measuring cup lightly. Make sure there are no air pockets, but don't compress it too hard either.

Even / Level
Measure the amount precisely, discarding all of the ingredient that rises above the rim of the measuring cup. The back of a straight knife works well for this.

Don't flatten out the ingredient to the top of the measuring cup, but instead allow it to pile up above the rim naturally, into a soft, rounded shape.

Heaping / Heaped
Pile as much of the ingredient on top of the measure as you can.

Sift before measuring to ensure ingredient is not compacted.

See also : Cooking

External Link

Some conversion tables:

copyright 2004