The Kitchen Scale is considered standard equipment in the U.S. however, the kitchen scale can be found mainly in the homes of those who are serious about dieting or are very avid about pastry and baking. Because of this, European recipes generally specify measurement of dry ingredients in weight (ex. 250 grams of sugar) rather than in volume such as the U.S. cup. Verre mesureur numérique
Asking the question, “Does it make a difference?”, the answer is yes. Measuring by weight rather than volume is more accurate and provides for increased consistency from batch to batch. The truth is that once you become used to using the kitchen scale you’ll find it easier than measuring by volume.
Variances in volume measures result from the grain of the ingredients to how tightly it is packed into the unit of volume measure. When you’re measuring in weight, the result is the same regardless of how the dry ingredient is ground. The amount of flour for instance, that can fit into a cup can vary by as much as 25% depending on how it’s ground and how much air space is worked into the mix. This could very well be the difference in taste and texture of cookies from one batch to the next. Measuring by weight provides for better consistency in recipe results from one baker to another. The same exact recipe used by two people may have two very different outcomes. We’ve all heard from someone that they’ve followed the recipe exactly and yet it wasn’t the same. Again, the kitchen scale will eliminate any variables in ingredient content from batch to batch regardless of the preparer.
When dealing with ingredients that are cut or chopped, the differences can be even greater. For example, a cup of chopped green peppers can mean two very different things to two people. How big or small are the pieces? How tightly are they packed into the cup? These loosely interpreted instructions can make or break a recipe’s result. If the recipe calls for 150 grams of chopped green peppers, then that’s an exact amount going into the mix no matter how finely they are chopped.
Recipe ingredients by weight also allow for easier shopping of what you need. If the recipe calls for “two medium or one large onion,” how do you know what qualifies an onion’s size as medium or large?
A recipe with ingredients measured in weight eliminates the guess work and allows for easier shopping. You’ll buy what you need by weighing out produce or referring to package weights.
If weighing ingredients is a superior method to measuring by volume than why isn’t it done universally? The answer is circular in reasoning. Most Americans don’t have kitchen scales therefore American recipes and cookbooks don’t use scaled measurements. Americans don’t largely use kitchen scales because the recipes and cookbooks they use don’t utilize weighed portions of ingredients.
Can the conventional American cycle be broken? For this to happen there needs to be a mentality change in American cooking culture. There are interest groups trying to do just that. Truth be told, the culinary world would be better off if everyone prescribed to the weighing of ingredients. The main benefit would be consistency from recipe to recipe and person to person.