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Equipment & Gear

Kitchen Scales

by Michael Chu
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A kitchen scale is an essential tool in every kitchen. Most American kitchens have a set of measuring cups, but don't have a kitchen scale. Even though kitchen scales aren't that common to the American kitchen, Amazon.com still has over 200 scales for sale ranging from $7 to over $300. Is this a gadget that only perfectionist chefs and constant bakers need? No, give a good scale a try and you'll find that it's a better and faster way to cook.

A lot of people know that you should use a scale when baking. Baking is probably the only form of cooking that I can say is a science without people arguing with me. (Try saying "stir-fry is a science" or "candy-making is a science" without having the science vs. art discussion.) This is because just about every cookbook that covers baking discusses the importance of balancing acids and bases and precise measurements are of paramount importance when trying to transform a wet glob of batter into a glorious, fluffy dessert. To get precise measurements, we are told to toss out the measuring cups and use a kitchen scale. But is baking the only reason to use a scale?

Why Use a Kitchen Scale
The first and foremost reason is of course precision. Precision is how repeatable a measurement is. For example, if we measured a cup of all-purpose flour in a 1 cup (8 ounces) dry measuring cup, we expect the mass of the flour to be 125 grams. Assuming that the dry measuring cup is constructed to strict standards, the cup is accurate but not precise. Every time flour is measured, it is a bit more or a bit less than 125 g. How tightly packed the flour is, whether it has been recently sifted, if we scooped the flour or spooned it, all make an impact to the repeatability or precision of using a cup as a measuring device. On the other hand, a scale is precise (and accurate if calibrated). When a cup of flour is weighed on a scale, it is possible to add or take away flour until the scale registers 125 g. The precision of the scale is dependent on how easy it is to read the scale. In baking, using a scale to measure all the ingredients will ensure that you are following the recipe correctly (at least in terms of the proportions of ingredients). Using measuring cups could result in having a little more flour than leavening, etc.

Repeatability is a big reason why I use a scale. When I've figured out how much sugar to put into a recipe or how much butter is needed, using a scale means that next time I make the recipe it will have a greater chance of ending up exactly the same as I made it last time.

If precision and repeatability aren't motivating factors for getting a scale (and for most home chefs they don't sound too compelling), here's a good one: faster measuring. No more scooping with a measuring cup and then leveling the top with a straight edge. Simply pour into a bowl set on the scale and stop at the desired point. With fast response digital scales, the weight display is updated fast enough that you can pour until you hit the desired value. Then you can zero out the scale and measure your next ingredient in the same bowl. Less mess to clean up, faster measuring, and more precision. There are no drawbacks to using a kitchen scale (except perhaps the initial impact to your wallet).

Types of Scales
There are three main types of scales available for use in the kitchen. Balance, mechanical/spring, and digital. The three operate on different principals for measuring weight. The balance operates by performing comparisons between known masses and the object to be weighed. (Technically, a balance determines mass not weight and is the only type of scale that will work properly if you plan to cook on the moon. The balance in all other disciplines is considered separate from a scale, but in cooking we lump the two together.) The problem with the balance is that it only reports if the object you are measuring is greater or less than the known mass. For example, when using a balance to measure a cup of flour, 125 g of known mass is placed on one side of the balance while flour is placed on the other side until the mass on both sides are in balance. A 3-Beam balanceA beam balance has a beam with adjustable masses that move along the beam to increase torque applied to counteract the torque on the other end of the beam from the weight of the object being measured. (Exactly like the physician's scale at your doctor's office.) In general, a good balance is extremely accurate and can be extremely precise, but no matter how skilled the operator of the balance is, I feel it's a bit slow for use in the kitchen.

32 ounce mechanical scale Mechanical scales use a platform mounted on a heavy spring to measure weight. An ideal spring compresses proportionally to the force applied to it. This means the weight placed on the platform is directly related to the distance that the platform moves down. The problem is that in actuality, springs aren't ideal.
For the most part, they do exhibit the property of linear compression, but they also may change compression rates over time, may not return to their original length, and sometimes even break. Also, another problem with springs is that small quantities are harder to measure than large quantities. For example, if a scale is designed to measure up to 5 lbs. then then measuring one ounce of something will be more difficult than one pound. This is because the small amount of movement in the spring caused by one ounce will be difficult to detect because the scale is designed to move evenly throughout the whole five pounds. However, high quality mechanical scales can be quite precise, but they also carry a hefty price tag. Polder 4/4 ounce scaleCheap mechanical scales can cost less than $10, but aren't terribly accurate or precise, but if these scales are the only ones you can afford, purchase a set of dry measuring cups instead. Properly used, the dry measuring cups will be more accurate and precise than the sub-$10 scales.

Soehnle Triple Digital Food Scale The final option is the digital scale. These scales range from $25 to over $100 with the vast majority in the $50 range.
A good digital scale provides easy to read measurements with high precision. They work based on an electrical component called a strain gauge (also known as a load cell). The resistance of the strain gauge changes based upon the compression or change in shape of the component. A simple computer in the digital scale is preloaded at the factory with a table of values that allows it to calculate the weight of a load by the change in resistance. Many scales update about once a second, but better scales will update their readings much faster. This means, if you're pouring sugar into a bowl, the scale will provide almost instantaneous feedback so you don't pour too much. Most digital scales also have a tare function that allows the user to subtract the weight of the container from the measurement.

Features To Look For
My Weigh i5000 Bowl ScaleA few months ago, WoodlandSprite directed me to Old Will Knott (retailer of fine scales) and the My Weigh i5000 Bowl Scale. I purchased the scale for $50 plus shipping and gave it a spin. This scale is well designed and is the perfect example of what features are important and how My Weigh managed to incorporate them. (Too bad I don't earn commission on the My Weigh i5000, because I'm about to explain why it's a great kitchen scale.)

Large Display - An easy to read display is important when measuring with a large mixing bowl on the platform. If the display is too small, it might be obscured by the bowl. Not only does the My Weigh i5000 have a large LCD display, a backlight turns on to illuminate the display so it's readable even if the shadow of the bowl is covering the display!

Avoirdupois (U.S.) and metric units - The ability to quickly and easily switch between U.S. (pounds and ounces) and metric (grams) units is useful when you have some recipes in grams and some in ounces. I receive some recipes that have both, so having a handy switch is a must. A few brands have their switches underneath the unit, so you can't switch while weighing. The i5000 has a nice button on the front that allows you to switch between grams, pounds and ounces (e.g. 1 lb. 8 oz.), pounds (e.g. 1.5 lb.), and counting mode (where the i5000 counts the number of jelly beans or whatever you put on the scale - which is, truthfully, the reason I bought the scale).

Tare - Taring is measuring the weight of the container. The tare function allows the scale to subtract the weight of the container and report only the net weight of the object being measured. Most scales allow you to repeatedly press the tare button, allowing you to measure many ingredients in the same bowl (e.g. measure flour, tare, measure sugar, tare, measure chocolate, tare, etc.). This is a wonderful feature and thankfully almost all digital scales have it. The i5000 also allows you to recall the gross weight (the actual weight) at anytime with a press of a button.

Seamless buttons - Some scales have buttons that are not, on the surface, formed from the same piece as the exterior of the scale. This means there are cracks where liquid or fine particles can get into and make cleaning a pain. Seamless buttons are a must especially if your fingers get dirty while working in the kitchen.

Removable bowl - Some scales have built-in bowls which makes cleaning more difficult and recipe preparation inconvenient. The ability to remove the bowl that comes with the scale (if it comes with one) and replacing it with your measuring cup, mixing bowl, or pot just makes everything that much easier. Although the i5000 came with a plastic bowl, I've never used it except to demonstrate to my friends the Jelly Belly counting trick.

Capacity - Most kitchen scales at the $50 price point measure up to 5 pounds (2.25 kg). This limits your ability to measure ingredients when using a glass mixing bowl or a pot which may weight a few pounds to begin with. The i5000 has an 11 pound (5 kg) capacity and manages to maintain a precision of 0.05 ounces (1 gram) throughout the range (most 5 kg scales have a 2 g granularity).

Recommendation
If you haven't guessed, my recommendation for a digital scale is the My Weigh i5000.

The My Weigh i5000 can be purchased for about $50 plus shipping from Old Will Knott. It's a bit more expensive elsewhere.

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Written by Michael Chu
Published on December 15, 2004 at 06:50 PM
70 comments on Kitchen Scales:(Post a comment)

On January 04, 2006 at 09:47 PM, an anonymous reader said...
one thing I've always wondered about in using scales in the kitchen... what about humidity?


On January 04, 2006 at 09:48 PM, an anonymous reader said...
With a good quality scale humidity is never a problem (unless it crosses over 99%...).


On January 04, 2006 at 09:48 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I meant varying moisture content in ingredients, not the ambient humidity.


On January 04, 2006 at 09:48 PM, Thomas W. Holt Jr. (guest) said...
I was just watching America's Test Kitchen a few weeks ago and they had a rerun of their episode with the Equipment Corner clip on Digital Scales. Here's their recommendation. http://www.americastestkitchen.com/EquipmentCorner/751.shtml


On January 04, 2006 at 09:49 PM, Stephanie (guest) said...
Hi Michael :) and thanks for the link. I'm still waiting for my trusty postal scale to kill itself so I can make my new digital scale purchase :D I bet you can guess which one I'm pulling for ;)
-WoodlandSprite


On January 04, 2006 at 09:49 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Cool article about the strain gauge. I never knew about them. But if they also rely on some physical compression, won't the gauge also get worn out like springs do? Probably a lot less noticeable since it displaces far less than a spring scale.

You know what would be cool would be an computer automated mass balance. When you put a weight on, it automatically shifts the weights around to balance it. I bet you can this system extremely fast by fixing the "needle" instead of waiting for the seesaw action. The computer can just check when there was no pressure exerted by the needle to know when it is balanced. You can use the amount of pressure on the needle to calculate 1st and 2nd derivatives to make the balancing even faster. But someone's probably already thought of this already. =)


On January 04, 2006 at 09:51 PM, Johneegeek_repost (guest) said...
Michael,
I've been looking to get a new scale. My current scale turns off way too quick...While I'm measuring stuff! (Very frustrating).
How long does the i5000 stay on before auto-off?


On January 04, 2006 at 09:51 PM, Michael Chu said...
re: scales and humidity of ingredients
I'm not sure what you mean when you say humidity. Are you asking what to do if, let's say, the flour gets wet? Then the scale would not measure the correct quantity of flour (and for that matter, neither would measuring cups). Hmmmm... I'm not sure what to do in that case. Anyone have some ideas?

re: i5000 auto off timer
I didn't find a specification on this, so I just timed the auto off on my unit. I turned it on and waited for it to zero. Then I looked at my watch and waited until the scale turned itself off. 1 minute 10 seconds. So, I guess the auto-off is on a one minute timer starting when the scale has decided that it's stabilized.

re: strain gauges
It is possible to damage a strain gauge by applying too much force. At some point, the device will be unable to return to its normal shape. That's why you shouldn't put anything more than 11 pounds on an 11 pound scale.

re: hypothetical computerized beam scales
Wouldn't you need at least one strain gauge to tell if the two sides are balanced? Or one at the fulcrum to see if the needle was pulling to one side? The system would still have to wait for the oscillations to settle before a reading could be made because otherwise it would detect imbalance and keep swinging masses around on the beam. Interesting concept though. It appeals to the nerd in me... I wonder if you could do something with accelerometers. I'll think about it some more tomorrow (if I get some free time).

Michael


On January 04, 2006 at 09:52 PM, an anonymous reader said...
re: moisture content...

I don't know about flour, but I'm thinking that there must exist some ingredients that can vary in moisture content up to some point without drastically changing in bulk volume. Maybe they'd be horribly stale and unfit for use at that point, but this is a hypothetical question.


On January 04, 2006 at 09:53 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I want to start off by saying that I love your site and it's a great resource. However, I think you may be confusing the term "precision" with the more correct term: accuracy. When discussing measurement, precision is much more closely related to reliability. So long as we are discussing baking as a science, I feel this is an important distinction.

Thanx, keep up the great work.


On January 04, 2006 at 09:53 PM, an anonymous reader said...
^
I just realized that I misread and you had it right all along, nevermind.


On January 04, 2006 at 09:53 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Does anyone know of any scales that have a high enough capacity for use in the kitchen and measure in increments of .1 g?


On January 04, 2006 at 09:58 PM, Russell Coleman (guest) said...
I bought the TH-9802L digital scale at Target. It has a capacity of 4.5 pounds. It measures in increments of .005lbs in pounds mode or .01oz in ounces mode. I use it all the time and am very happy with it.


On January 04, 2006 at 09:59 PM, an anonymous reader said...
^ Still too much error... Oh well, looks like I'll have to buy 2 scales.


On January 04, 2006 at 10:01 PM, Michael Chu said...
re: 0.1 g precision and usable in the kitchen

My Weigh's i2600 may fulfill your needs.

It can handle 2.6 kg at +/- 0.1 g. Almost all home kitchen needs fall below 2.6 kg (just don't use heavy pots or glass mixing bowls to measure with. The bad news is: this scale is $150.


On January 04, 2006 at 10:02 PM, an anonymous reader said...
How about an article on pots and pans?


On January 04, 2006 at 10:02 PM, Michael Chu said...
re: pots & pans

Excellent suggestion. A pots & pans article has been planned for a while but I haven't managed to write it yet... there are lots of pots, lots of materials, and lots of uses...


On January 04, 2006 at 10:03 PM, palegreenhorse (guest) said...
as for a cheaper scale that does about 2 kg, i'm looking at the myweigh triple beam balance. this is a mechanical balance not a scale so even if i mess up and put my cat on the scale and try to mass her, it isn't going to mess up anything. there is a magnetic damping system so it doesn't take forever to get the reading too. best of all it is only about $80. pretty good for something that has an accuracy of .1 g. my guess is that if you are a bit ingenious you can also get to greater mass since this is a mechanical balance. just rig up an additional counter balance of a known mass. personally i love metric so it being metric doesn't bother me, but some people might find this a downfall. the lack of plug in also means i can put this on display and it can be a fun toy wherevery i want it when people come visiting.


On January 04, 2006 at 10:04 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Inadvertently checking your cat's mass. Interesting idea. I've noticed that cats seem to change their weight at will (the most notable time being when they decide to step on a full bladder).


On January 04, 2006 at 10:04 PM, Modman (guest) said...
We looked around for a good scale and finally decided on a Sunbeam Programmable Digital Electronic Postal Scale. It has all the features without the expensive kitchen store price.

* This digital scale offers an easy-to-read 4-digit LCD display, auto zero/tare function and 1 oz./1 gram gradation.
* Features include auto shut-off in 30 seconds and a low battery indication.
* Operates with 1 9-volt battery.

http://www.officemax.com/max/solutions/product/prodBlock.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=y...697

I think we got ours on sale for $25 or so...


On January 04, 2006 at 10:10 PM, Codeword (guest) said...
Nice article. I have a question though; How do you translate recipies using cup, Tbsp, qt, etc... into measurments in weight? is there some chart of quantities for known goods that one uses?


On January 04, 2006 at 10:45 PM, Michael Chu said...
For many ingredients, the USDA Nutrient Database is a pretty good source of information for conversions.


On January 04, 2006 at 10:46 PM, codeword (guest) said...
Well I am sorta bummed about this conversion thing. The USDA Nutrient DB site is a pain to get through and makes converting a recipie to wieght measurments a long and frustraiting task. It will be hard to get me to sit down in front a computer, and for each ingredient in a recipie, go through the 3-4 pages on that site to find out the conversion, then plug those numbers into a calculator to get the wieght in grams. It is just too much work! It just seems like an extra half hour NOT in the kitchen doing the fun stuff. ... too bad, I wish i had realized the work involved before getting the scale. The counting thing is pretty fun, but how many times can you count your m&m's?

If anyone has any better suggestions, Like a spredsheet of common items etc, I am all ears.


On January 04, 2006 at 10:46 PM, Michael Chu said...
re: converting

Most decent baking cookbooks will present information in mass or weight instead of volume. Many non-baking cookbooks (like The New Best Recipe) will list weights when it is necessary to be exact.

I do my best to include both volume and mass values when presenting a recipe, but in the course of my own cooking and experimentation I have a mental cheat sheet (and in some instances I have written on the box or container).

Butter: 1 cup = 8 oz. (1 Tbs. = 1/2 oz.)
same as water

Sugar: 1 cup = 200 g
Brown Sugar: 1 cup = 220 g
Flour: 1 cup = 125 g

These are the main things that I keep measuring over and over on my scale. Measuring flour or sugar on the scale is a time saver since you just pour until you get to the right number.

Sometimes I need to measure something on the scale and do not know the weight, but the nutrition info box on the ingredient product tells you what a serving size and mass is. So, a quick calculation usually leads you to a decent result. You'll need to remember the following:
3 teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons = 1 fluid ounce
8 fluid ounces = 1 cup

For small measures (1/4 teaspoon, etc.) it is more convenient to use measuring spoons.


On January 04, 2006 at 10:47 PM, an anonymous reader said...
"As for a cheaper scale that does about 2 kg, i'm looking at the myweigh triple beam balance. this is a mechanical balance not a scale so even if i mess up and put my cat on the scale and try to mass her, it isn't going to mess up anything."

This is not true mechanical scales have knives as the pivots which can get damaged. Be gentle with any scale if you want long life.


On January 04, 2006 at 10:47 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Thanks for the round up! I have purchased a similar scale, the iWeigh i3000 (with a capacity of 3kg instead of 5), and have been fantastically pleased with it.

I have been trying to steer other folks away from Salter & the usual brands towards iWeigh, since they have a lifetime warranty and seem to be well-reviewed everywhere - and they're not even more expensive!


On January 11, 2006 at 08:36 PM, JamieC said...
Subject: Thank You...
Thanks for the recommendation of the My Weigh i5000. I ordered one last week and, while I haven't used it extensively, I think it will be a superb replacement to my Salter.


On January 15, 2006 at 11:10 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Which one would be the better choice for the kitchen, the My Weigh 7001DX or the i5000?

The 7001DX is slightly cheaper, but if anyone has used these scales, some comparison/input would be appreciated.


On January 20, 2006 at 02:08 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Accuracy and precision
A couple of comments on the use of the terms "accuracy", "repeatability" and "precision" in measurement:

Accuracy is a measure of how closely the measured value approximates the actual value. It is often stated as a percentage of the measured value (e.g. "+/-5%"). So we can say that the mass of flour is 150g +/-10% (or, if you prefer, 150g +/- 15g). Implied in this statement is a level of confidence, typically 95% (so "150g +/10%" is a shorthand for "we are 95% confident that the actual value is between 135g and 165g"). A higher confidence level (e.g. 99%) would require a wider confidence interval.

Repeatability is a component of accuracy that takes account of only the random (as opposed to systematic) error.

Precision is a measure of how "finely" the measured value is stated. For a digital display, it is a matter of how many decimal places are displayed. For example, if the display reads 152.24 g, the precision is 0.01 g. For a needle moving around or along a graduated scale, the precision may be equal to the smallest marked graduation, or with experience you may be able visually to divide the smallest graduation into 5 parts and achieve increased precision, so that if there is a marking for every 25g, you can estimate the measured value to the nearest 5g.

The important point to make about precision is that it says nothing at all about whether the measured reading is accurate or repeatable.


On April 11, 2006 at 06:04 PM, fLínkyfLíp (guest) said...
Subject: Measurement Conversion Tool
>>On Jan 4, 2006 at 2:10 PM, Codeword (guest) said...
Nice article. I have a question though; How do you translate recipies using cup, Tbsp, qt, etc... into measurments in weight? is there some chart of quantities for known goods that one uses?<<

I found this gem a few years ago stumbling around as usual (kind of like how I found this site :P ) -

http://joshmadison.net/software/convert/

Since the program runs straight from the exe, I suggest getting the zip file (153kB) instead of the setup pkg (780kB). :shock: ┐wtHUH? 5x the file size just for adding a start menu shortcut??

It may not be all inclusive or quite what you're looking for, but it's handy to have for quick, on-the-fly converting...it's getting harder to memorize and retain info as the years go on :huh:

Now you can finally answer those asinine/irrelevant-in-modern-day-life aptitude test questions you loved to hate "back in the day" :P such as -

"How many pecks are in a bushel" or "Jack has only 782 fortnights left in mortgage payments until his house is completely paid off. How many years of slaving does Jack have left?"

...BTW, Tbsp/Tsp is located under the "Volume" tab. ;)


On April 11, 2006 at 10:00 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I'm sure you are completely inundated with praise for your site, but I just wanted to say thank you. I'm not an overly analytical person per se, but every time I have a question about a cooking technique or hardware, you've got the answer. My world is a less burnt, better tasting place because of you. Thanks.


On June 05, 2006 at 12:28 AM, Gernman (guest) said...
Subject: i5000 scale
I bought one of these and am really thrilled with it


On August 08, 2006 at 01:29 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Michael -- Fantastic site! I was just wondering where you got your "1 C All Purpose Flour = 125 g. calculation. I'd never thought about cooking with mass instead of volume (not being much of a baker), but I like the idea and I'm definitely getting an i5000 Bowl Scale. Anyway, my searches only turned up one conversion program that deals with weights of different substances as compared to their volume
[http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking#subs], which keeps telling me that the weight of 1 C All Purpose Flour is 100 g. Know of any great sites for this kind of info?

Keep up the great work!


On August 18, 2006 at 12:05 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Follow up to the last post -- To make matters more confusing, I conducted my own test on my old postal scale and it indicated that my measuring cup plus one cup of all purpose flour weighed 12 oz. I dumped out the flour and then weighed the measuring cup and it came in at 6 oz. So, the result is that my measurements indicate that a cup of all-purpose flour weighs 6 ozs. or 170.01 grams (!). What's the deal, I wonder? Maybe I packed the flour too much. All I did was tap the bottom of the measuring cup on the countertop and kept adding flour until I got to the one-cup line. Any ideas out there?


On August 18, 2006 at 12:37 AM, an anonymous reader said...
OK, never mind. I finally figured out that with flour, you're supposed to sift it before measuring and not tap or tamp it in any way. That explains a lot. Sorry for being an idiot.


On September 03, 2006 at 12:41 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Great article thanks.
One feature I find very useful is the ability to read negative values. If I need to add a small amount, say 30g of ginger, I weigh the frozen lump, zero the scale then grate off some and re-weigh the now lighter lump until the scale reads -30g. This is a feature of my old Philips HR2385 I do not know if it is a feature of other scales.


On September 05, 2006 at 07:22 AM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
One feature I find very useful is the ability to read negative values. If I need to add a small amount, say 30g of ginger, I weigh the frozen lump, zero the scale then grate off some and re-weigh the now lighter lump until the scale reads -30g. This is a feature of my old Philips HR2385 I do not know if it is a feature of other scales.

Both the MyWeigh scales that I own provide negative readings.


On September 23, 2006 at 07:02 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: i5000 price
I was about to buy a secn kitechen scale when I read your article. And I thought, for $50 in 2004, maybe 75 in 2006, why not. But The cheapest I found is $188, even at the recommended site!
Was that a misprint for $150? Or do you have a secret source?

(nice work though!)


On September 24, 2006 at 12:42 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: i5000 price
guest wrote:
And I thought, for $50 in 2004, maybe 75 in 2006, why not. But The cheapest I found is $188, even at the recommended site!
Was that a misprint for $150? Or do you have a secret source?

Old Will Knott is currently selling the MyWeigh i5000 for $47 plus shipping and handling.


On November 04, 2006 at 05:24 PM, chocolate_artist said...
Subject: re: moisture content of ingredients
Does anyone have thoughts about measuring ingredients such as brown sugar with scales? It seems that the amount of moisture in brown sugar could vary quite a bit.

How would one go about measuring brown sugar using a scale?


On November 06, 2006 at 11:26 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: A lot of people know that you should use a scale when baking
"A lot of people know that you should use a scale when baking."

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article.php?id=41 says:
"Set aside 2 cups all-purpose flour in a large mixing bowl. Prepare 6 tablespoons cold butter, 3/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt"

cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons. A scale helps with this how?

Can you point me to (for example) a recipe for a whole wheat pie crust that gives ingredients by weight?


On November 10, 2006 at 05:58 AM, GaryProtein said...
A scale isn't helpful with things like liquids or solids like butter, which can easily and effectively be accurately measured volumetrically because they are incompressible, as can the teaspoon of baking soda or quarter teaspoon of salt, which because you are using a spoon for a small measure, and it repeatably packs in the same mass of material each time. A scale also isn't helpful with unsophisicated and mediocrely written recipes with things like flour that have different densities depending on how it is sifted or the variety of flour itself. But, for a well written, tested recipe, use of a scale is a primary factor in precision, especially for baking, when you want the same result time after time.

A pet peeve of mine are volumetric recipes with ingredients and measurements like "one cup plus two tablespoons flour." Geeze, how stupid a measurement is that! The first time I saw that, I had no idea what they were talking about, let alone what to do with the two tablespoons. Is nine ounces too hard for the typical American cook to measure? I would have been impressed if they asked for a specific weight, in grams of course.

Improper measuring is probably the number one reason recipes fail. Flour is crucial to the structure of baked goods; too much flour and your product will be tough and dry. Too little flour, and your product will collapse when it comes out of the oven, and have wet spots and dense layers. To correctly measure flour, use a spoon to lightly scoop flour out of its container into a measuring cup. Continue until the cup is overflowing. Then use the back side of a knife to level off the flour even with the top edge of the measuring cup. Repeat as necessary, with 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, and 1/4 cup measures.

For the most accurate flour measuring, you should weigh the flour. This is what home economists do when they are testing recipes before publication. One cup of white flour weighs 120 grams. One cup of whole wheat flour weighs 140 grams. One cup of bread flour weighs 130 grams. One cup of cake flour weighs 114 grams.

The most common mistake made in measuring flour is to dip the measuring cup into the flour instead of lightly spooning flour into the measuring cup. This can result in up to 25% more flour than the recipe calls for. To see this for yourself, measure 3 cups of flour into a bowl by scooping the flour with the measuring cup. Then stir the measured flour, and re-measure by lightly scooping with a spoon. When you have measured 3 cups this way, how much flour is left in the bowl? This extra flour will make your baked products heavy and tough. The best way to measure flour and powders is to weigh them.


On November 29, 2006 at 02:52 AM, jim2100 (guest) said...
Subject: Weights And Measurements
In response to a post here regarding a list of useful list.

http://www.nigella.com/news/detail.asp?article=1814&area=2

Conversions

TEMPERATURES

Gas Mark 1 = 140C = 275F = Very cool
Gas Mark 2 = 150C = 300F = Cool
Gas Mark 3 = 160C = 325F = Warm
Gas Mark 4 = 180C = 350F = Moderate
Gas Mark 5 = 190C = 375F = Fairly Hot
Gas Mark 6 = 200C = 400F = Fairly Hot
Gas Mark 7 = 210C = 425F = Hot
Gas Mark 8 = 220C = 450F = Very Hot
Gas Mark 9 = 240C = 475F = Very Hot


VOLUME AND LIQUID MEASUREMENTS

5 ml = one-sixth fl oz = 1 teaspoon
15ml = half fl oz = 1 tablespoon (NOTE: Australian tablespoon = 20ml)
30ml = 1 fl oz = 2 tablespoons
45ml = 1 and half fl oz = 3 tablespoons
60ml = 2 fl oz = quarter cup
75ml = 2 and half fl oz = one-third cup
125ml = 4 fl oz = half cup
150ml = 5 fl oz = two-thirds cup
175ml = 6 fl oz = three-quarters cup
250ml = 8 fl oz = 1 cup
600ml = 1 pint = 2 and half cups
900ml = 1 and half pints = 3 and three-quarter cups
1 litre = 1 and three-quarter pints = 4 cups


SOME USEFUL CUP CONVERSIONS

Please note that these are approximations

1 cup sugar = 200g
1 cup icing sugar = 125g
1 cup flour = 140g
1 cup rice = 200g
1 cup frozen peas = 125g
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs = 70g
1 cup grated cheese - 100g
1 cup chocolate chips = 175g
1 cup sultanas = 150g
1 cup honey/syrup = 300g
1 stick of butter = 110g = 4oz


WEIGHT CONVERSIONS

15g = half oz
30g = 1 oz
45g = 1 and half oz
60g = 2 oz
75g = 2 and half oz
90g = 3 oz
100g = 3 and half oz
125g = 4 oz
150g = 5 oz
175g = 6 oz
200g = 7 oz
250g = 8 oz
275g = 9 oz
300g = 10 oz
325g = 11 oz
350g = 12 oz
375g = 13 oz
400g = 14 oz
450g = 15 oz
500g = 1 lb


CAKE TINS SIZES

20cm = 8 inch
23cm = 9 inch
25cm = 10


On November 30, 2006 at 06:10 AM, GaryProtein said...
My mother would be very appreciative of these unfortunately useful conversions. I just say "GO METRIC--IT'S TEN TIMES BETTER!"

It is an extremely sad state of affairs when only two countries other than the United States have not adopted the Metric System, actually the SI, and they are Myanmar and Liberia. We're keeping BAD company on this list.

http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/


On December 01, 2006 at 07:04 PM, plantfreek (guest) said...
Subject: Re:person who asked for wh.wh.pie crust recipe by weight (11
More and more baking cookbooks are going to the weight format as opposed to measurements or in addition to. One good example is Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Pie and Pastry Bible." She gives a basic flaky pie crust recipe by both weight and measurement and adds about 7-8 variations one of which is for adding whole wheat flour to the pie crust. It is as follows:

Basic Pastry for two crust 9 inch pie:

unsalted, cold butter 14 TB, 7 oz. 200 grams

pastry flour 2 1/4 cups+2 TB 11.25 oz 320 grams

all purpose bleached flour 2 1/4 cups(dip and sweep method)

salt 1/4+1/8 teaspoon

ice water 5 to 7 TB 2.6 to 3.6 oz 74 to 103 grams

cider vinegar 1 Tb 0.5 oz 14 grams

For whole wheat pastry she says to use 2/3 all purpose flour and one third whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour.

If you are looking for a good bread baking book that uses weight I would recommend Peter Reinhart's "The Breadbaker's Apprentice".
I have shelves and shelves full of cookbooks and all of my better, newer ones provide both weight and measurement recipes. I have found in my years as a baker/pastry chef/ etc that professionals prefer to use the weight method for it's accuracy and reliability. In much the same way science likes to repeat experiment after experiment, so do we prefer that we be able to repeat a bread or pie recipe over and over and over again. No fuss, no muss, no wondering if it's going to turn out well. Likewise, the public to whom we sell our products expects to get the same taste and texture time after time.

I love this site! I'm not an engineer so I hope it's okay that I use this site for reference and a good read:-)
Thanks
Bredbakker aka plantfreek :)


On December 16, 2006 at 03:30 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I bought an escali primo scale for just under $20 from my homebrew supplier. This scale appears to have the features you liked about the myweigh, for 60% less dough, pun intended ;)

I use it for many kitchen duties, including weighing hops and other kitchen ingredients like sugar and flour.

Love the website, keep up the good work!


On December 17, 2006 at 10:43 PM, otrpu said...
Subject: Was gonna ask Santa for one. . .
Got to looking around the cupboards a few days ago, found a Polder digital scale laying in one. Wifey hasn't got a clue where it came from. . .so it must of been me. What's the first sign of getting old? Great for getting all my buns to come out the same size.

Cheers,
OTRPU


On December 18, 2006 at 03:55 AM, GaryProtein said...
Subject: Re: Was gonna ask Santa for one. . .
otrpu wrote:
Got to looking around the cupboards a few days ago, found a Polder digital scale laying in one. Wifey hasn't got a clue where it came from. . .so it must of been me. What's the first sign of getting old?
Cheers,
OTRPU


The wife of a much older friend of mine told me that the MIND is the SECOND thing to go!!!!!!!!!


On June 11, 2007 at 08:59 AM, butchay@hotmail.com (guest) said...
Subject: kitchen scales
:) Just want to let you know I really love your site. Very informative and helpful. I am a baking enthusiast who turned a hobby to a home business venture. I can surely depend on you for delicious recipes and everything about baking. Thanks a million!


On August 09, 2007 at 07:15 PM, gr8buns (guest) said...
Subject: Liquid Kitchen Scales question
I have noticed a couple foodscales out there that have a liquid conversion button. If they don't accomodate for different liquids other than water...i.e. honey, oil and such, how accurate are they? Wont they mess my recipes all up?


On August 09, 2007 at 11:25 PM, GaryProtein said...
Measure your liquids volumetrically. You are right. All those liquids have different densities and that scale, with conversions will mess up your recipes.


On August 16, 2007 at 11:42 PM, aseim said...
Subject: MY Weigh kd7000
I recently purchased the my weigh kd7000 from amazon for $42. I had to return it because it was very inaccurate. I would put a bowl on it and zero it out, but if i took it off and put it right back on it would never be the same weight. It was probably only accurate to +- .5 ounce, much less accurate than measuring cups.
I then ordered the Escali L3000 from amazon for $55. It is perfect, it is accurate to .5 gram and has adjustable feet and a bubble level. It only will weigh 3kg, less than half of what the kd7000 will weigh, but it is dead on accurate.

Adam


On August 17, 2007 at 05:53 PM, GaryProtein said...
An inexpensive scale (one under a few hundred dollars) will not be accurate and precise and have a large weight capacity. In the $50 range, a decent scale will usually only weigh a few pounds and give good readings.

I think 3 Kg of food is a lot to weigh at one time--it's more than a food store sized sack of flour or sugar and is certainly more of anything you'd add to a baking recipe at one time. Unless you are weighing a large roast or a big bird, which you probably know the weight of anyway, you don't need a large capacity on a food scale for cooking ingredients.


On November 01, 2007 at 02:41 PM, htom (guest) said...
Subject: MyWeigh kd7000
I put Old Will Knott Scales into my daily webcomics folder and watched for the KD7000 to be on sale. I think it was $us35 with shipping. Great service from OWKScales, and a great product.

It's not perfect. When I started, if I was careless, I put the heavy plastic protection plate up when I changed modes or tare and blocked movement of the platform. Haven't done that after the first week or so.

It would be a bit more useful if the minimum was 0.1 gram or 0.01 gram, for measuring very small quantities of some things (yeast or powdered spices, for example.) I'm going to buy one of their smaller scales that does this.

The 7kg / 15 pound maximum is very handy as I use a lot of cast iron and ceramic bakeware, and I don't have to worry about putting a gallon of something, and the pot holding it, on the scale.

All in all, very happy with it.

(cute captcha variation; I hope it works.)


On January 02, 2008 at 05:46 AM, Barry (guest) said...
Subject: conversions
Just for reference, google will give you a quick conversion:
Typing something like "cup to oz" will return:
"1 US cup = 8 US fluid ounces"

Or even typing "1/2 cup to teaspoon" returns:
"(1/2) US cup = 24 US teaspoons"

Even does the "peck to bushels" conversion:
"1 US peck = 0.25 US bushels"

More info:
http://www.google.com/intl/en/help/features.html#calculator


On February 04, 2008 at 11:04 PM, murky (guest) said...
Subject: don't get the hemp version
If you get the MyWeigh I'd advise against the hemp version.

Its plastic doesn't seem to have molded well. I've never seen the regular plastic version but I can't believe it comes out as poorly. More likely they use the same injection molds for the hemp material even though it has different material properties like shrink rate.

The batteries seem ever poised to spring out and one of rubber feet fell out and disappeared.


On May 13, 2008 at 05:38 AM, PoGa (guest) said...
Subject: hemp version
Yes! Absolutely DO NOT get the hemp version.
Mine arrived this past week (the i5000) and it's being sent back. It's just like the other poster described: the plastic around the digital screen is bulging off, three of the five pads on the bottom of the scale were m.i.a. upon arrival, the batteries refused to stay in place (kept popping out as I was trying to install them), and -- worse still -- the scale wouldn't even turn on. The dealer was apologetic and mentioned in her reply that one out of every 50 of these models are defective.


On July 17, 2008 at 05:52 AM, SarahCat said...
Subject: iWay 5000 Hemp
I read Michael's review, called OWK and ordered the hemp version because for the same price, I figured I'd be environmentally responsible. I had no problems with the unit and it was designed intuitively (I especially like the display back light coming on when the weight changes from zero), works well and appears accurate. My bread recipes are much better since I weigh the dry ingredients, as do our apparently more enlightened European cooks. :D


On August 28, 2008 at 08:06 PM, hah (guest) said...
Subject: Conversions
Well, I'm just an analytical chemist, not an engineer. However, my favorite website for converting units from what some idiot field sampler chose to put his measurements in to what the data sheets clearly state to use also has a section for converting cooking amounts for various ingredients back & forth from various weight & volume units.

It's very easy to use:

http://onlineconversion.com/weight_volume_cooking.htm


On August 28, 2008 at 08:49 PM, Dilbert said...
hah -

that site is not going to do you a whole lotta' help.

how many gram of flour is equal to one cup?

the site tells you all purpose flour is (some density) example: g/ml

if you go look up one cup you'll find it given as 236.xxxxxx ml

if yo use 0.42 g/ml * 236 ml/cup = 99.xx g/cup - well, that's not going to work out too well in most baking.


On September 03, 2009 at 05:32 AM, Melissa (guest) said...
To follow up on the comment from December 16th regarding the primo scale, it also comes in several colors to coordinate with your kitchen decor. That's important to girls like me :) I found the Primo scale at AZScales.com and Escali.com


On March 17, 2010 at 08:33 AM, Thomas Tay (guest) said...
Subject: I have a MyWeight 5500
My gripe is that the reading creeps even after taring. It would creep for a few minutes. Very frustrating. I would not recommend it even though it's cheaper than the more established brands.


On March 17, 2010 at 05:41 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: I have a MyWeight 5500
Thomas Tay wrote:
My gripe is that the reading creeps even after taring. It would creep for a few minutes. Very frustrating. I would not recommend it even though it's cheaper than the more established brands.

The only time my scales creep are when they aren't on a smooth countertop. I find that tile doesn't work as well as a wood table, laminate/formica counter, or granite/stone counter. On those surfaces, the scale is evenly positioned on its sensors. If your scale creeps and you aren't on an uneven surface, I think you may have a defective scale.


On April 21, 2010 at 05:08 PM, MessyVirgo said...
Subject: Kitchen Scales
I have an Oxo recommended by America's Test Kitchen and just love it! I use it for baking -- imperative -- and all sorts of other things: Dividing large quantities of meat/poultry for the freezer, measuring dough so loaves and buns are equal weight (although I've found I can divide things pretty equally by "eyeballing" it), etc. I just can't believe I've gone this long without an accurate scale. However, when I starting cooking, there were no digital scales (at least that I could afford in a home kitchen).
Great site!


On August 31, 2011 at 11:45 PM, AnneWN Houston, TX (guest) said...
Subject: Inexpensive Kitchen scales
I take your point concerning the cheaper scales. However, for those with restricted incomes and health problems like diabetes or obesity, these are still useful, even if inaccurate. Why? Many of the food guides for nutrition give serving sizes in grams, not dry measuring cups. If you are told a serving size is 80g for so many calories, fat, fiber, etc., even an inaccurate scale is better than scratching your head and trying to guess at the serving size in cups, half cups, 1/3 cups, etc. Just something to think about. :)


On February 29, 2012 at 08:28 PM, Jason52 (guest) said...
Subject: Cheap price on the ibalance 5000
I found a site that has the iBalance 5000 cheaper than Old Will:

http://www.digitalscalesaz.com/MyWeigh-iBalance-5000-Digital-Scale

No affiliation with the site, just thought I'd share.


On January 28, 2013 at 11:26 PM, Tom in CA (guest) said...
Subject: My Weigh i5000 - Anyone notice strange behavior?
Sorry, a bit long post!
I purchased the i5000 scale from Old Will Knots in hopes it would meet my needs for bread baking (measuring 3kg-4kg total and the ability to measure 5-20g items like salt as it's being poured). Here's what I found.

First, I set up the scale and did some tests with 1g weights. I put 10 1g weights on the scale and it displayed 10g. Same with 20, 30, 100, 500 - excellent.

Next I took 10 1g weights and dropped them onto the zeroed scale one after another as though I was pouring an ingredient like salt. To my amazement and disappointment after adding the first the scale still showed zero, after the second - zero, third - zero and on and on. It was zeroing out the weights as I added them so that even after 10g was on the scale it was still reading zero. Oddly enough, once I removed the weights the scale displayed -10g (negative 10g) as though I had added the weights tared the scale then removed the weights. The scale exhibited this behavior whether it was just the 10 1g weights or I added 1g increments to an already poured larger weight. Pretty disappointing!

Has anyone else experienced this behavior? Can anyone try it on their i5000 and let me know if theirs does the same thing?

The My Weigh website has a FAQ which talks about a behavior their scales have called "dribbling" where if you add weight to the scale in increments of less than 50% of the smallest supported increment (in this case less than 0.5g) the scale will zero out the added weight assuming it's environmental error. It will continue to zero out the weight as you pour if you pour slowly enough. The real problem for me is it's happening when pouring at this scale's supported increment of 1g not below 0.5g so it makes slowly adding things like salt impossible to do accurately without sometimes losing the weight. I've had this happen in real baking situations. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions for me? Or maybe a recommendation of a better scale for pouring?


On January 29, 2013 at 10:47 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: My Weigh i5000 - Anyone notice strange behavior?
Tom in CA wrote:
Next I took 10 1g weights and dropped them onto the zeroed scale one after another as though I was pouring an ingredient like salt. To my amazement and disappointment after adding the first the scale still showed zero, after the second - zero, third - zero and on and on. It was zeroing out the weights as I added them so that even after 10g was on the scale it was still reading zero. Oddly enough, once I removed the weights the scale displayed -10g (negative 10g) as though I had added the weights tared the scale then removed the weights. The scale exhibited this behavior whether it was just the 10 1g weights or I added 1g increments to an already poured larger weight. Pretty disappointing!

Has anyone else experienced this behavior? Can anyone try it on their i5000 and let me know if theirs does the same thing?

Yes, this behavior is repeatable on the i5000 and other scales with 1g minimum precision. MyWeigh now makes a newer scale that is about the same size as the i5000 with similar specifications except it has a 0.1 g precision which would fulfill all your needs: the MyWeigh iBalance 5500. Unfortunately, it comes at a heft price of over $150, but that's the cost of precision over such a large range (0.1 g precision from 0-5kg). What I do instead is use a small scale to measure tiny portions of things. I currently use a MyWeigh GlasScale 100 that has 0.01 g precision but a max load of only 100 g. It's small and portable and I use it for measuring salt, pepper, and spices. Any of their 0.1 g or finer precision instruments should serve your purpose.


On June 16, 2013 at 10:05 AM, AlanRobinson said...
As a naval architect and shipbuilder I am keen on relaibility and durability; and can fully understand why most American kitchens use volume rather than mass. We learn to design things for their proper function, for durability, safety, ease of maintenance, and incidentally, for their cosmetic appeal. It seems to me that - no offence meant to my electrical colleagues, - many cheap digital instuments are little more than junk. Far too much bling.

The reason I make this comment is because today, while baking bread, my digital kitchen scales began giving irreglar readings. I checked the 9V battery and it is fine, and since the instrument was stood firmly on the table top, the fluctuations can only be due to the circuitry or the load cell. I nearly blew a fuse, but soon calmed down again, calling a halt to the baking while I converted the mass of the ingredients into volumes. I am happy to say that the wholemeal baps were a success in the end.

I was always against buying such cheap domestic equipment as this, but because my wife always wanted it I couldn't really protest too much. But now the baking of bread has landed on my plate so to speak, it is volumes all the way.

Full cream milk and skimmed milk has for practical purposes the same density, 1030 kg/m3 at room temperature. SIFTED wheat flour has a density of about 530 kg/m3.


On October 17, 2013 at 04:54 PM, none (guest) said...
Subject: Not to be too picky, but...
You say in your article that "Technically, a balance determines mass not weight and is the only type of scale that will work properly if you plan to cook on the moon."

Since all of the measurements are relative and you are really using them to get the proper ratios of ingredients, wouldn't any of these options "technically" work on the moon? (or for that matter at various elevations and atmospheric pressures?)

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