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Measuring Utensils

Monday, 7 April 2008 | Tags: ,

In baking, accuracy is important to ensure your pastry puffs up, your soufflé rises, and your cookies are crisp and chewy. Find the right kitchen measuring tools with these tips.

The Basics

There are four types of measuring tools you need in the kitchen:

  • Dry ingredient measuring cups typically come in four sizes: 1 cup, ½ cup, ⅓ cup and ¼ cup. Some bigger sets also include a ¾ cup and more than a cup.

    • Adjustable cups (one tool 4-6 measurements) seem like a good, space-saving idea, but we found them hard to clean, and with use, they get gummed up by the ingredients, making them difficult to manoeuver.

  • Liquid ingredient measuring cups enable you to measure liquids without filling to the brim and come in varying sizes (one, two, and four-cups) with graduated measurement lines.

    • If you measure a lot of liquids, you may like using a cup with angled measurement markings in side. This allows you to easily read the quantity from above.

    • Heavy-duty glass measuring cups are a home chef favourite. Just make sure its tempered glass.

  • Measuring spoons come in 4 to 6 spoon sets measuring: 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, ¼ teaspoon, 1/3 teaspoon and more.

  • Kitchen scales provide the ultimate in accuracy, weighing ingredients so that there’s no discrepancy. If baking is your thing, consider a scale. Most professional bakers use one and strongly recommend it for excellent results.

    • Scales also cut down on storage space. All you need is the scale and a bowl to use with it.

    • Choose a scale that has both metric and imperial measurements for easy transition between cookbooks. However, not all cookbooks provide measurements in grams or oz, so you may need to do some conversions.

    • Make sure the scale as a “zero” or “tare” setting so that you can set the weight of your bowl to zero without having to take into account its weight when measuring your ingredients.

    • Also think about the space between the bowl and the readout screen. Make sure the scale is designed for easy reading. A slightly tilted screen helps.

    • If you plan to do a lot of weighing, especially heavy items, look for a scale that comes with a good warranty.

  • A butter ruler is also very handy, and inexpensive (usually under $2), especially if you find the label on your butter always slips, crumples or tears.

Materials

  • Plastic is often less expensive but can scratch easily and warp or melt if it gets too close to heat. Plastic is helpful for liquids if it’s clear/see-through so you can get an exact measurement. Plastic can stain and take on odours from food.

  • Stainless steel is generally the most durable, and also the most hygienic. You can also use them to melt butter (carefully!) right on your stovetop. Other metals like aluminum are flimsy and bend too easily.

  • Fancier materials like porcelain may look nice but tend to be breakable.

  • Tempered glass or Pyrex measuring cups for liquids are pretty common and stand up well, however they also scratch, and are still breakable, though more durable than ceramic or porcelain. They are usually microwave-safe, great for melting chocolate or butter. (Be sure it is stamped to withstand heat.)

Style & Design Tips

  • Make sure the measuring cups have a solid flat base so they don’t tip.

  • Nesting cups and spoons attached together with a ring are handy for keeping an eye on things, but awkward to use and you have to wash them all even if you just used one. If they are attached, make sure you can easily detach them when in use.

  • The bowl of measuring spoons is usually round or oval in shape. Oval spoons tend to work better for fitting into spice bottles, etc.

  • Extra-long handles are a good choice for reaching into long containers or narrow bags, but they may take up more storage space.
  • Cups with spouts provide cleaner pouring of ingredients into bowls.

  • While plastic novelty cups are fun to purchase and give as gifts, they can be hard to clean and can also stain. Opt for stainless steel cups with no narrow corners where ingredients can get caught.

  • Look for measuring utensils that have easy-to-read markings so that you won’t misread or struggle to read them.

  • If you often use measuring tools over heat, look for ones with silicone-wrapped or rubber handles for more comfortable use.

Measuring Tips

  • When measuring dry ingredients, overfill the cup or spoon and then level it off with the flat side of a knife.

  • If you need to measure something sticky like honey or molasses, first measure something like oil, or spray a little cooking oil into the cup or spoon to help the sticky ingredient slide right out.

TEST CRITERIA

We took a variety of tools into the A & K Test Lab to see how they performed. We tested:

SPOONS

     
Progressive International Magnetic Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons: $14.99

  • 5-piece, metric and imperial, narrow end and wide end, dishwasher safe
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
Pampered Chef Adjust-a-Spoon Measuring spoons: $6.99

  • One hand operation, liquid seal, easy-to-clean, top rack dishwasher safe
  Pampered Chef  Pampered Chef 
       

DRY INGREDIENT CUPS

     
KitchenArt Adjust-a-Scoop Measuring Tool: $7.99

  • Measures increments of 1/8-1/2 cup, sliding cover, liquid seal, easy clean, top rack dishwasher safe
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
Anolon Tools 4-piece Measuring Cup Set: $29.99 USD

  • Silicone handle grips, 18/10 stainless steel fittings, heat resistant to 400F, dishwasher safe
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
Kitchen Art 2-cup Adjust-a-Cup: $16.99

  • Cylinder design replaces 6 conventional measuring cups, both liquid and dry, metric and imperial, metal polymer, dishwasher safe
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
       

LIQUID INGREDIENT CUPS

     
OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup: $11.99

  • Angled measurement ring allows for easy reading, metric and imperial, non-slip handle, dishwasher safe
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
       

KITCHEN SCALES

     
Escali Primo Digital Scale: $41.99

  • 11lb/5kg capacity, measures in 0.1oz/1g increments, compact, portable, easy storage, auto shut-off, tare
  • Read our Kitchen Scale Test
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
Salter 6-Pound Mechanical Kitchen Scale: $12.98

  • Easy-to-read dial, compact, 3kg/6lb/8oz capacity, 15-year guarantee
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
       

BUTTER RULER

     
Fox Run Butter Ruler: $1.99

  • No more guessing when the wrapper is wrecked, graduated measurements in tbsp, oz (weight), and cups
 

Amazon.ca

LeeValley.ca

Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars unless otherwise marked.)

Usage Test

Measuring Spoons

  • We found the Progressive International spoons with the oval ends to be very handy for getting into spice jars, and the measurements were marked strongly and easy to read. As for the double-ended design (oval end and rounded end), it may be overkill.

  • We like the idea of the Pampered Chef sliding measuring spoon as a great space saver, but once it got gummed up (e.g. with salt and baking soda crystals), it didn’t slide very well. This one might need a little extra cleaning between ingredients.

Measuring Cups

  • Again, the sliding measuring cups (Kitchen Art brand) are great in theory for their space saving, but the sliding mechanism didn’t work very well after a couple of ingredient measurements and required extra cleaning before we could continue.

  • The funky design of the Anolon dry ingredient cups were fun to use, and the silicone-wrapped handles were helpful. The wide design of the cup, however, made them a little difficult to scoop ingredients in narrower containers.

  • We loved the OXO Good Grips angled measuring cups. They were so easy to use, no bending or squinting to see the measurements. The design removed all the guesswork.

Kitchen Scales

  • We did a kitchen scale test for another cookbook episode. The Escali Primo was our top pick digital scale, and the more economical Salter was our top pick for a manual scale.

Butter Ruler

  • In our measuring utensil research, we came across this fantastic little Fox Run butter ruler and think that every kitchen should have one!

OUR TOP PICK

When you have the right tool for the job, things go so much more smoothly. We like measuring cups and spoons that have narrower scoops for fitting into tight containers, and prefer stainless steel material for easy clean-up and better hygiene. The OXO Good Grips liquid measuring cups are going to be a permanent part of our test kitchen, as is the butter ruler. The Escali Primo digital scale is already well used in our kitchen!

 

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