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Liquid vs. Dry Measuring Cups

candert Nov 28, 2007 04:12 PM

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. King of Northern Blvd RE: candert Nov 28, 2007 04:31 PM

    Did you try pouring one into the other?

    1 Reply
    1. re: King of Northern Blvd
      candert RE: King of Northern Blvd Nov 28, 2007 04:56 PM

      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. Antilope RE: candert Nov 28, 2007 04:37 PM

      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. jfood RE: candert Nov 28, 2007 04:41 PM

        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
          MikeG RE: jfood Nov 28, 2007 04:55 PM

          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. digkv RE: candert Nov 28, 2007 04:42 PM

          http://www.chow.com/stories/10767 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
            violabratsche RE: digkv Dec 1, 2007 06:10 AM

            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. chowser RE: candert Nov 28, 2007 06:16 PM

            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
              jzerocsk RE: chowser Nov 30, 2007 12:37 PM

              LOL...it'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
                chowser RE: jzerocsk Nov 30, 2007 05:56 PM

                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.

            2. scubadoo97 RE: candert Nov 30, 2007 01:50 PM

              1/4 cup is 2 oz. Doesn't matter if it's dry or wet. You are hard pressed to fill the 1/4 cup dry cup with the correct 2 oz of liquid and use it without spilling it. The wet measure cup allows you to correct for the meniscus formed when liquid contacts the sides of glass.

              1. paulj RE: candert Nov 30, 2007 03:12 PM

                The dry cup is allows you to fill it to the brim, and scrape off the excess. The wet cup lets you fill it to the top mark without risk of spilling. Other than that, the volume to the marks is (should be) the same.

                When we are curious kids, we test this out in the bath tub or sand box, and trust our own observations. But many of us, as adults, depend on the authority figures..

                The meniscus factor is relevant when measuring small quantities, or where extreme accuracy is needed, such as in the chemistry lab. But in the kitchen that usually isn't the case. Note, for example, that we don't have separate measuring spoons for liquids and solids.


                2 Replies
                1. re: paulj
                  flourgirl RE: paulj Nov 30, 2007 03:39 PM

                  I think this is the best answer.

                  1. re: paulj
                    Shayna Madel RE: paulj Nov 30, 2007 05:59 PM

                    I think so also. Both are volume.

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