Cooking measurements are done in two forms: liquid measurement and dry measurement. When dealing with dry ingredients there are specialized units that are used. Some of the typical units for dry ingredients are grams, pounds and cups. To measure grams and pounds, use a kitchen balance. Cups however, are measured using containers calibrated to indicate the proper amount of dry ingredients.
Use a Balance for Measurements
Clean any debris or leftover material from the weighing surface and container. The balance rests on a knife blade and oscillates until the beam of the balance comes to rest.
Check the zero of the balance and make any adjustment required to zero the balance.
Load the desired amount of material onto the weighing table and release the balance. Record the weight when the balance comes to rest.
Use Cup Containers
Select the cup container that matches the estimated amount of liquid or dry ingredient you need to measure.
Fill the measuring cup to the top and empty it into your bowl. For dry ingredients, fill over the top of the measuring cup. Tap the edges of the cup lightly with the back of a knife to settle the ingredient. Pass the back of the knife across the lip of the measuring cup to level the measurement.
Convert the number of cups required to larger units of measure. Containers for larger units of measure are easier to obtain. Larger liquid measures are pints, quarts or gallons. For dry ingredients, larger units of measure are pecks and bushels. The conversion rules are: 2 cups equal 1 pt., 2 pt. equal 1 qt., 4 qt. equal 1 gallon, 8 qt. of dry items equals 1 peck and 4 pecks of dry items equals 1 bushel.
Balances are susceptible to vibrations and wind, so shield the balance from air currents.
There are many types of balances available so the specific method of reading the weight can vary. Electronic balances are the easiest and most allow the reading of the weight in both ounces, pounds or grams. Other balances require the manual movement of weights along a beam until the weight on the right side equals the weight on the left side of the central point. For balances that only measure in grams or pounds, convert from one set of units to the other using these conversion rules: 1 lb. equals 16 oz., 1 oz. equals 28.35 g.
Most kitchens have measuring cups that span the range of 1/8 cup to 1 cup. For larger amounts use multiple fills of the largest measuring cup or select a different container that has graduated markings to a larger quantity.
Sean Lancaster has been a freelance writer since 2007. He has written for Writers Research Group, Alexis Writing and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce. Lancaster holds a Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry from the University of Washington.