One of the most common mistakes made in the kitchen is using the wrong measuring cups. Different measuring cups are meant for different ingredients and using the wrong type of measuring tool can really make a difference in your recipe. One cup of liquid should always be the same amount, but using a cup meant to measure dry ingredients can cause you to under-fill the cup and add less than what is called for. Even when mixing ingredients together for a smoothie you will want to make sure that your measurements are accurate.
Liquid Measuring Cup Versus Dry Measuring Cup
Measuring is usually done in two different ways when you are cooking or baking. Volume measuring is the most common and operates using cups, teaspoons and tablespoons as the defining measurement. Measuring by weight is the other option. Is in not as common but is becoming more visible, thanks to baking shows on television. Some bakers feel that they have more control over the ingredients in their recipes when measuring by weight. However, 90% of the cookbooks published use volume measuring and you will need a good conversion chart if you prefer weight measuring.
Dry measurements are used, as the name implies, with dry ingredients. If your recipe calls for one cup of sugar, you would want to use a dry measuring cup. This type of cup is usually stainless steel, plastic or rubber silicone. It is solid (you can’t see through it), has a long handle and holds exactly the amount that the cup was designed for. A one cup dry measuring cup should be used just for dry ingredients, and for just a one cup measurement. Don’t try to guess the half way point of a one cup tool is you need only 1/2 cups of the ingredient. It just isn’t accurate enough.
Using a dry measuring cup is easy. Just fill the cup to the rim and then scrap across the top of the cup with a flat edge of some sort. Most people use a butter knife or some other handy piece of silverware, but any flat edge will due. The same process is used for measuring spoons. If your recipes calls for one tablespoon of sugar, just scoop out sugar with the measuring spoon, scrape off the excess and you are all set.
Using a dry measuring cup for liquid ingredients is a sure fire way to get an inaccurate amount of liquid. You may think you have a steady hand and can hold the cup level while pouring into it, but you will never get the most accurate amount. Measuring cups are usually quite inexpensive and having a dry and a liquid set on hand won’t break the bank.
Liquid Ingredient Measuring Cups
The flipside of dry measuring is liquid measuring. Liquids are the life blood of most recipes and making sure that the amounts added to a recipe can determine if the recipe is a success or a disappointment. Too much liquid can make a recipe runny while too little has the opposite effect and you end up with a dry concoction. Proper amounts almost always mean proper results.
Liquid measuring cups are always clear, with measurements printed on the side. Most of the measuring cups used today have cup measurements on one side and liter measurements on the other. This style of measuring cup is designed to pour the liquid into the mixing bowl, either on your stand mixer, your blender or a mixing bowl on your counter. They are made from glass or plastic and can come in a variety of shapes and with different types of handles.
Like a dry measuring cup, a liquid measuring cup doesn’t work well with other types of ingredients. Trying to get an accurate 1/2 cup of flour in a one cup liquid measuring cup just doesn’t work. You can’t get an even top surface on the flour, meaning that is might come up to the 1/2 cup line on one side of the cup, it may be lower on the other side. Accuracy matters when you are cooking or baking!
Prices for measuring cups tend to be low, this is not an expensive kitchen tool. Even though you may do a lot of cooking and baking, these cups can last for many years with regular use. There are some pros and cons for each type of material used. Glass is durable, lasts a long time and can go into the dishwasher when you are done. They also are heavier and can break. Plastic is lightweight, inexpensive and dishwasher friendly. However, plastic gets cloudy and can peel with age. Stainless steel is lightweight and very durable, but can react to foods high in acid.
While cooking and baking can be considered both an art form and a science, both rely on accurate measurements of some ingredients to be successful. Make sure that you have the right kitchen tools, and having the right measuring cups is a good place to start.