Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Put away your measuring spoons! We're sharing our top cooking guesstimations, from minced garlic to lemon juice.
Exactitude in the kitchen can be very satisfying, like filling in perfectly dark bubbles on a standardized test -- it indulges the Type A rule follower in all of us. However, for the times when you a) don't want to get your teaspoon dirty yet again, b) are throwing exactitude to the wind, or c) just don't feel like measuring, you can often estimate instead.
Cooking with estimated measurements can be freeing and just a little dangerous -- you are, after all, taking a risk in the kitchen. But they will help you in a pinch, and turn you into a more confident cook in the process. Be especially careful when using these estimations in baking, though -- those recipes entail more exact science than their savory counterparts.
Here are our 10 go-to kitchen conversions:
Garlic: Garlic cloves can vary significantly in size -- you may have shrimpy cloves, or ones that look like they've been fed a serious diet of gonadotropin. But in general, a medium-sized clove of garlic equates to about a half teaspoon once minced.
Lemon Juice: On average, one lemon will yield about three tablespoons of juice, depending on its size. Don't forget to follow these tips to get the most juice out of your citrus.
Salt: A small palmful of salt (like the one pictured here) is about a teaspoon. If you're making a savory dish, this measuring technique will come in handy -- just be sure not to get too liberal with the palmfuls, and always taste your dish before serving to adjust the seasonings.
More: Were you a little heavy-handed with the salt? Here's how to fix your dish.
Breadcrumbs: To make 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, you'll need a medium-slized slice of bread -- about 1/2-inch thick from a medium-sized loaf. Make sure it's stale, or you could risk soggy breadcrumbs.
More: Go ahead and make a whole batch of breadcrumbs -- then turn it into 5 dinners.
Rosemary: Once chopped, one medium-sized sprig of rosemary equates to about a teaspoon. Start chopping, and you'll be well on your way to this savory granola.
Mustard: For mustard and other everyday pantry items like honey or mayonnaise, a regular spoonful is about equivalent to a teaspoon. This rule of thumb is especially helpful when you're making less-strict recipes, such as vinaigrettes or other sauces.
Bananas: If you're planning on making banana bread (and really, you should be), take note: 3 medium-sized ripe bananas equate to about one cup once mashed.
Tomatoes: They come in all shapes and sizes, but one medium-sized beefsteak tomato (the kind you think of when you think "tomato") equals about a cup chopped.
Now that you're comfortable cooking without measuring spoons, you're ready to go forth and whip up a slew of not recipes!
Did we miss your favorite cooking conversion? Share your best guesstimations in the comments!