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metric measurements?

hi, I'm sure I can't be the first to ask this question but I can't find any reference to it on the site. It would be amazing if you could provide a metric conversion for recipes as I find the standard American cup (etc) measurements rather imprecise. Being Europe-based, I'm obviously not used to them but I find it tricky to figure out how to measure precisely a 'tablespoon of butter' for example! You can buy the cup measurements here in the UK but not everywhere and, in any case, I'd prefer to do it by weight but there is not always a precise conversion for each type of ingredient (e.g cornmeal)... thanks!

asked by Meriposa over 2 years ago
19 answers 1724 views
Mrs._larkin_370
mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

added over 2 years ago

Hello Meriposa, I use this site all the time. It's really helpful. www.metric-conversions...

But it does get tricky when you're trying to figure out how many grams a tablespoon of butter weighs if you don't know how many ounces it is. I'm pretty sure it's a half-ounce if I did my math correctly, so 1 tablespoon of butter = 1/2 ounce = about 14.18 grams.

Hope this helps!

Mrs._larkin_370
mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

added over 2 years ago

Thanks pierino. Yes, I agree kitchen scales are essential tools.

These are the scales I use in my kitchen:

http://www.oxo.com/p-501...

http://www.amazon.com/dp...

The spoon scale seems silly and nerdy, but that thing can measure tiny amounts of anything. I use it for measuring fresh yeast when making pizza, because the larger scale cannot give a precise reading for such small measurements.

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added over 2 years ago

hi mrslarkin & Pierino, thanks a lot for your replies but I still want to start a campaign for Food52 to include metric measurements for all recipes ;-) The spoon scales you point to looks great! I usually use http://www.deliaonline... for conversions but unfortunately it cannot list every type of ingredient and there is a massive difference between the weight of a cup of flour and a cup of granulated sugar for example. Also I wonder how you can be sure of a good result for recipes that require precision such as bread when you're not weighing the ingredients precisely? This weekend I tried to make the polenta cake with ricotta & prunes but the result was not very good (much too dry) as I had to hazzard a guess as to how many grams of cornmeal are in a cup. oh well, I'll keep trying but I can unfortunately see myself having to find alternatives to Food52 recipes for this reason only. Otherwise I love the fact you can ask questions etc! In England we still use miles instead of km like the rest of Europe so, you're right (Pierino), we're not very consistent over here but at least for cooking we seem to have followed the rest of Europe!
Meriposa

Cristina-014-web-final
added over 2 years ago

Hi Meriposa, I agree with you that it would be handy to have to metric measurements available (especially for baking), but the trouble is that most recipes on food52 are community sourced. Posting a recipe on food52 is already a bit time consuming, so I think you might have a hard time convincing people to convert their recipes before posting! (Particularly those who are used to American measurements.)

Photo_on_2014-07-11_at_6.17_pm
added over 2 years ago

Hi Ladies, this is a great discussion. Here's another link I found that may be useful, for Canadians (and perhaps others).
http://www.canadianliving...

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added over 2 years ago

And while we are on the subject of measurements, let us not forget that the UK pint is bigger (by about 25%) than the USA pint. That threw me off occasionally. Although strangely the US recipes that I use seem either to use cups (1/2 US pint or 8 fl. oz) or quarts. The cups are easy, but if we throw in a quart as told by the recipe, and actually use a UK quart, things get very messy very quickly!
And of course 1 fl oz of water doesn't weigh an ounce. And liquid measures are different from dry goods measures.
My head hurts - so I just went metric!

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added over 2 years ago

Oh and another thought.
You might want to weigh out standard measures of common ingredients and paste them to the back of your pantry door. So the ratio for corn meal for example. So next time you can look it up. I wouldn't bother because my scale is my friend.
It is quite amusing when seeing books translated from another language and converted to a different measurement system to see ridiculous amounts of precision. For example in the wonderful "I know how to cook" which is translated and converted from the French "Je sais cuisinier", the recipe for piperade calls for 2 1/4 lbs of green bell peppers. How important is that 1/4? I suspect that since 2 1/4 lbs is about 1kg, the original called for 1kg. So occasionally we will see precsion (but not necessarily accuracy) because of a direct conversion.

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added over 2 years ago

thanks guys - all valid points but I'm thinking there must be some software Food52 could use to do an automatic conversion to metric and in so doing, conquer the European market as well..? :-)
ChrisBird, I agree the 2 1/4 lbs of peppers does seem like a case of lost in translation alright and thanks for the tip about pasting the measurements to my kitchen door - have been thinking of doing that - a good alternative to having to resort to a calculator! I shall persevere for now..

Scan0004
added over 2 years ago

Of course some of us have the inverse problem. Many recipes are posted here with metric ingredients measurements, and We The Scaleless are converting to US volumes. Maybe the search on the site could lead the metric users to recipes that use those weights. (And some use ounce, pound measures. This can be confusing because the liquid ounce is not always equal to the ounce by weight.)

Img_0391
added over 2 years ago

Great thread. If you have a smartphone, there is an app called "units" which I use all the time, and it's free. Does all kinds of conversions.

Smokin_tokyo
added over 2 years ago

I thought in the 70s a law was passed that the US would go metric in the future. Did that go out with Y2K?

As someone who has changed to metric, I try to include these measurements in my recipes. It isn't very easy. There is a very humorous discussion in The Joy of Cooking about comparative measurements on teaspoons, etc.

Recently my biggest headache was changing ? to ?, then I got a convection oven more confusing, so I like this site (also has Eng. Gas Mark 2-9)

http://www.taste.com.au...

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added over 2 years ago

thanks for the app tip Deanna1001 - I tend to use my phone sometimes in the kitchen to calculate the conversion or to look at recipes online so an app is just the thing!
Susan G - I haven't come across any metric recipes on this site just yet but maybe I haven't been around long enough. interesting to hear you have the opposite problem!
BoulderGalinTokyo: a law? really? brilliant!
seems there are lots of websites dealing with the tricky subject of conversions and I guess it would be boring if everyone had the same approach.

The_cook
added over 2 years ago

Glad to see there are others out there who prefer to cook with weight, prefer the scale to the cup, and would be thrilled if the US converted immediately to the metric system. We are in a minority, but I think our numbers may be growing. As for conversion, computer generated conversions from metrics to common measure or visa versa are cumbersome because they are too precise. The recipes I write are developed in metric measure and then translated into usable common measure. One of my recent posts was for fresh pasta and I started with classic Italian proportions 100g flour to 1 egg. Weight is a great place to start, but whether you choose the scale or struggle with the cup, the cook still needs to get the feel of the dough for the final adjustments. Cooking is still as much of an art as it is a science.

Waffle3
added over 2 years ago



I'm 98% in agreement with you. If you approach the conversion issue with nothing more clever than math, the results will indeed be strange and cumbersome. But computerized conversions are only as good as the programmer. We call it computer science but it, too, is an art.

Of course nothing can compensate for the moisture level in the flour.


Photo_on_2014-07-11_at_6.17_pm
added over 2 years ago

I found a great site for converting to either metric or Imperial. I love the Canadian (Imperial) way to measure, it uses the best of the cups and grams system in my opinion. I do get out my kitchen scale as needed, but most often use a chart taped up in my kitchen from Waitrose Food Illustrated Magazine (now defunct). If you're looking for a good online converter Meriposa, here's one:
http://leitesculinaria....

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added over 2 years ago

Another easy way to convert metric to US standards and vice versa is to plug in whatever you want to covert (i.e., 450 ml in c) into the Google search box. The conversion pops up as the first choice. No need to go any further.