Which measuring devices does your kitchen need?

Baking - a typical kitchen measuring task.

The number of measuring devices you store away in the kitchen will probably depend on the type of cooking you're planning to do in it.

If you're a fan of making white sauces or baking, for example, or if you are keeping track of exactly how much of certain foods you're eating, exact weights and measures could be more important to you.

Here are some of the measuring items you might want to kit your kitchen out with.

The measuring jug

Normally a heatproof jug with a guide on the side that shows you when it's been filled to a precise level. They tend to measure in both metric and imperial to help you make things using the system you prefer.

When might you use one?

Measuring jugs aren't just for trendy baking tasks. You often get them out to add hot water to instant items, such as gravy granules or instant custard.

They can be good when you want to make cocktails, too, as they allow you to measure out liquids precisely and make sure all the flavours are balanced.

Even if you're not going to be using it every day, this is one of those kitchen items that you really miss the moment you realise you need it.

What if I don't have one?

Sometimes, you'll be able to use an alternative. For example, if you have measuring cups, these may help (check they are suitable for hot liquids if that's what you're measuring). If you're measuring a large unit, like a pint, an old milk container from the supermarket could work for cold liquids.

The measuring spoons

How many times have you squinted at your teaspoon wondering exactly how much cinnamon takes up half?  

With a set of special measuring spoons, this becomes less of a hassle.

Perfect for adding spoonfuls of ingredients, they come in sets, are made from a variety of materials and normally let you measure out perfect amounts, from half-teaspoons right up to tablespoons.

When might you use them?

Adding the all-important baking powder to that Victoria Sponge, obviously. But there are lots of powders and liquids that are called for in small exact measures and they're not all involved only in baking. If you're making a chilli, for example, it might not be that important whether you go for an exact half teaspoon of a spice, or more like three quarters. But, especially when you're trying a recipe for the first time, it's good to keep to the advice the writer has given you. They'll have worked hard to get the flavour balance right, and these small details can have a big impact on a dish.

What if I don't have them?

Of course, you could just use your normal teaspoon, dessert spoon and tablespoon. But given that these are not specifically designed to measure, it can be harder to get an exact quantity from them.

Having a special set for measuring – and knowing where it's stored –  can help you avoid too much of a hunt at that exact moment you're meant to be putting the nutmeg into your baking mix!

The spaghetti measure

Bit of a specific one. Cooking instructions on spaghetti normally advise how much you should use, but it's easy to overestimate and waste strands unless you actually measure.

Wasted spaghetti – or not cooking enough – isn't the end of the world, of course, but there are measures out there that basically help you work out how much to use by feeding strands through a specifically-sized hole.

When might you use one?

When you're making your spaghetti bolognese, of course! This is perhaps one of the less important kitchen measuring devices out there. If you don't cook spaghetti much, you probably won't feel the need for one. If you cook it a lot, you may well have mastered estimating how many strands you need, without the need for a special tool.

What if I don't have one?

If you feel the need to measure spaghetti, you could always get the weighing scales out!

The measuring cups

A set of specifically-sized cups, great for baking.

When might you use them?

In the UK, we tend to find cake, pie and other baking recipes tell us how much of an ingredient to use in ounces or grams. In the states it's often all about how many cups of something to use. The US has produced some absolutely stunning baking ideas over the years, so it's nice to have a set of good measuring cups to help you make them. Cups are used to measure both solids like flour and liquids like milk.

What if I don't have them?

Measuring cups have lots of uses, besides US-style baking! But if you're trying to work out how to make something that uses cups in the recipe, you may be able to use a standard cup you already own, or convert the recipe into weights and exact fluid measurements.

The scales

Yes, we've left the most obvious kitchen measuring device until last. Scales come in various types, including:

Digital: Often a simple, flat tablet with a screen – a little like a calculator screen – which shows you how many grams, ounces etc you have measured out. You change between imperial and metric by hitting a button.

Self-contained mechanical: These do not run off electricity. The dial features a pointer that moves to the weight you have measured out. They tend to list imperial and metric weights side by side.

Weights and tray mechanical: The sort of scales where you check weight by creating balance between your ingredients, placed on one side of a pivot, and special weights that you place on the other side.

When might I use them?

Most recipes that call for you to measure things out in specific weights can be much easier to follow when you use some good scales!

What if I don't have them?

Some of the other devices we've outlined here can sometimes be used instead of scales – for example, you could find the conversion to make a cake in cups.

Sometimes, you can estimate how much of something you need based on the weight of the packet you've bought – use half a 500g bag of flour for 250g for example. Remember this isn't very precise, though!


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