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Nov 28, 2007 04:12 PM

Liquid vs. Dry Measuring Cups

I need a little help settling a friendly dinner wager between my wife and I. We were prepaing dinner together, and she questioned my use of dry 1/4 measuring cup for adding water to a pan. She said I should be using a liquid measuring cup for all liquid measures because its different then a dry measuring cup. Being of a science background I instantly refuted her claim. She pulled the "I took Home Ec" claim saying something on the line that liquid cup accounts for meniscus, and that spatially they're different. "No way" was my response. I get that a liquid cup is larger then one cup for ease of use, but other then that there are no differences. Please help solve a friendly dinner debate. Thanks.

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  1. Did you try pouring one into the other?

    1 Reply
    1. re: King of Northern Blvd

      I did that, but she didn't buy it. That's when I went to the internet.

      I think Antilope put it best, but thanks for the quick replies.

    2. Don't forget, it's your wife. This is the kind of thing you can't win. You may win the battle, but lose the war.

      1. Bad news bro, you owe the wife a dinner. They are different:

        Page 1031 Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition - " Do not use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients, as the results will not be accurate."

        But in jfood's experience it rarely, if ever has any effect on cooking. Baking is where you might have an issue. So you may have a draw in that yes it's different, but giventhe fact that it appears t hat the two of you were cooking, not baking, maybe you can get a "push" onthe bet.

        In any event take her out for a nice dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jfood

          Not to mention that measuring almost all dry ingredients by volume is so comparatively imprecise to begin with, I don't see this making any noticeable difference. If you want strict accuracy with common dry ingredients (sugar, flour, let alone cut-up foods) there really is no way around weighing them.

          I'm not sure the meniscus explanation holds per se, though, since for accuracy's sake one must take it into account when measuring liquids anyway, and for containers the size of most measuring cups, I'm not sure how big a factor it is to begin with - it's much more relevant in narrow containers.

        2. That should answer your question more scientifically than I can put it. Basically though, you are not wrong to measure liquids with a dry measuring cup but the vice versa would be wrong.

          1 Reply
          1. re: digkv

            After reading the article, I can see the reasons for the use of different measuring devices (always have), however, when I first started cooking, as a child, I read enough to know these things long ago. I still am not that fussy about which measure I use. In my experience, most measurements are approximate, anyway. What I couldn't understand is why people, in other parts of the world, use weights for ingredients, such as flour, sugar, rice, etc. An interesting point of view, is that I was looking at it backwards. Why do we, in North America, use volume instead of weights. It's not as if we didn't have access to scales, in our pioneer days. The logic came from some very early North American "receipt" book, and I cannot remember which one. It seems that with our changing humidity, dry ingredients can collect moisture, changing the weight of an ingredient, quite considerably. Flours are especially vulnerable to this difference. Now, I can't see that as the sole reason. I bet that it's more likely that having a teacup, coffeecup, tablespoon, teaspoon, dessertspoon, or whatever would already be in the kitchen anyway, and knowing the size of the eggs that were just removed from the henhouse, would allow one to know the volume of "butter the size of an egg". The quality of ingredients, by brand, and other factors, makes all recipes open to knowing what quality can be expected at what point in their preparation.

            But it's an interesting story anyway.


          2. Pampered Chef makes a product where one end is for liquids and the other for solids. For the life of me, I can never figure out which way to put the plunger thing in for liquids and solids, and I've lost the instructions, so I stick to my regular measuring cups.


            2 Replies
            1. re: chowser

    's got big arrows on it that say "This end up for" liquid/solid. The concave side of the plunger (with the spout) should correspond the liquid side.

              1. re: jzerocsk

                Maybe it's the scientific side of me that gets me confused. Butter goes on the solid side? Butter is a liquid. How about peanut butter? I thought the purpose of this cup was to push out the peanut butter type ingredients but aren't those like butter? Are those "solid"? I'm just way overthinking this. I stopped measuring peanut butter and just eyeball it. Much easier.