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Imperial v. Metric issue

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Hi all,
I just bought my first digital scale because I'm noticing more and more 'foreign' recipes on the internet that use the metric measurements and, more and more of us Americans are rolling over to it too.
Question is, should I convert all my personal recipes slowly over to metric over a period of time?
I know they would all be more accurate, but is it worth it?
I carefully scoop up my flour... how accurate is that?

Thanks,
Rick

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  1. YES YES YES!!!!!
    Please, PLEASE!!!!! convert to metric.

    It is definitely worth it. I've converted everything in my life to metric/Celsius. In my eyes it has simplified everything and makes conversions much easier. I especially like Celsius for day to day non-cooking use. It took a little bit to get used to but it wasn't ever a hassle.
    I always prioritize recipes which use metric, and weights rather than volumes or other arbitrary measurements.

    Yes, it will be far more accurate to use weight than volume.

    Edit: I'm American, and it drives me crazy America uses standard, among other things.

    18 Replies
    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

      I agree 100%. I have changed all my recipes to read in both Metric and US standard, but follow the metric myself.

      Also, I never use by volume measuring for dry goods, only by weight.

      And I am starting to change over to by weight for liquid measure as well.

      1. re: JMF

        volume measure for liquids is used in pro kitchens and is perfectly accurate unless your eyesight is poor.

        unlike flour or different grades of sugar, water/oil/etc. will weigh the same.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Look at the recipes in books like Modernist Cuisine, etc.

          Different oils have different weights for volume. I have been getting really good results comparing weight to volume when replacing different oils. I use volume/weight calulators like this. http://convert-to.com/edible-cooking-...

          I never said that I was just working in a home or restaurant kitchen. I work with a lot of other food and beverage applications.

          Due to thermal expansion, many of the liquid products that I work with have different characteristics and volumes at different temps. These are not items I use in home cooking, but in commercial beverage and spirits creation and production.

          1. re: JMF

            fair enough. most on here are home cooks, so i didn't mean to overstep your experimentation. thanks for better context.

            1. re: JMF

              But when does that difference matter? If the recipe calls for sauteeing in 2T of oil, should I adjust for density? Or in a 3:1 ratio vinaigrette? I can't think of recipe where that kind of precision is needed.

              1. re: paulj

                Of course it doesn't matter for small quantities, especially for sauteeing or a vinaigrette, where an accurate measurement isn't needed. But when working in very large batches, and trying to substitute different types of an ingredient, it works quite well. I think you just like to argue. ;-)>

                In molecular/modernist recipes it matters quite a bit, and many home cooks are very into molecular/modernist cooking.

                1. re: JMF

                  For the sake of arguing I'll say that "some," not "many," home cooks are very into molecular/modernist cooking ;)

                  Sorry! It really is a unique approach to cooking and not widely practiced outside a handful of restaurants.

                  1. re: Roland Parker

                    Maybe "some" by percentage, but "many" in actual numbers of folks cooking like that.

                    1. re: JMF

                      Statistics, please?

                      Sorry, couldn't resist ;)

                      Of all the people I know who are serious about cooking, which is quite a large number, I can't think of any who practice molecular cooking at home. And this is borne out by the scarcity of molecular recipes in cooking magazines, newspapers, cookbooks and even TV programs.

                      No doubt some adventurous people practice molecular cooking but their numbers are likely sufficiently small enough to be a moot point in any debate over metric versus volume based cooking.

                      1. re: Roland Parker

                        I include sous vide in the "modernist" category. And I know lots of folks who cook sous vide at home, and sear with a blow torch to finish.

          2. re: JMF

            What JMF said.

          3. re: EatFoodGetMoney

            Fahrenheit is much more precise when measuring tempuratures compared to celsius.

            1. re: John E.

              No, the choice of units is irrelevant to precision. Precision depends on the quality of the equipment and the care with which it used.

              1. re: GH1618

                Check the number of gradients in C. vs F.

                1. re: John E.

                  still irrelevant. You can have a Fahrenheit thermometer that registers to the hundredths of a degree, and it will be more precise than a Centigrade thermometer that only has markings every 5 degrees.

                2. re: GH1618

                  I'm curious about what kind of cooking people are doing that requires accuracy to within a fraction of a degree C.

                  If you're doing something that requires high accuracy measurements, your measuring device will have appropriate markings. With decimal points if needed.
                  But if your measuring device is only accurate to within a few degrees, you can quote to 50 decimal places, but your accuracy will still be within a few degrees.

                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                    I use temps in fractions of a degree C for sous vide. Not a ton, but it does happen. More during experimenting, but it's nice to have either way.
                    Might be useful for candy making too.

                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                      You beat me to it. Those are two examples that immediately came to mind.

            2. I understand America is one of only three countries in the world not to use metric. There's a reason why the rest of us generally use metric - it's just so much easier.

              Took a while to get used to the change but, now, when I come across one of our old recipes, I have to resort to an online conversion site. American volume measurements have always seemed, well, just a weird way of going about things.

              And, when I visit America and watch the weather forecast in Fahrenheit, I'm always thinking "how warm is that".

              10 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                We get Boston tv channels where I live (Nova Scotia) and it seems strange when there are fahrenheit temperatures put on the map of my province. I have no clue what it means either :)

                1. re: CanadaGirl

                  Just think of it as very accelerated global warming.

                2. re: Harters

                  When I was a teenager/college student, , I was a radio announcer and we gave the temperature in both celsius and Fahrenheit. I can understand that milimeter, centimeter, meter, might be more precise, but celsius is less precise than Fahrenheit.

                  1. re: John E.

                    No. It is not.
                    See above.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      I think what he's saying is that because of the smaller difference between the F degrees compared to C degrees, the F (whole numbers) can be more precise than the C (whole numbers). This is leaving out fractions.

                      While it's possible to have C in fractions, such as 17.2 degrees, for everyday use it's not commonly done. I don't think I've ever seen weather forecasts in C that included decimals.

                      1. re: Roland Parker

                        When your temperature is taken in a hospital, it will be to a tenth of a degree. It could be finer if they needed it, because temperature can be measured to a thousandth of a degree or more.

                        1. re: Roland Parker

                          Environment Canada reports temperature to a tenth of a degree Celsius. You have to go past the summary page to get it.

                          http://weather.gc.ca/city/pages/bc-74...

                    2. re: Harters

                      As a scientist I can really appreciate the Celsius/Centigrade scale for measuring temperature in the lab, 0C = freezing point of water, 100C = boiling point of water.

                      But for weather reporting I like Fahrenheit much better. Why? Because 0°F = god damn cold and 100°F = god damn hot. Feels much more intuitive to me than the range of -20C to 40C.

                      1. re: kmcarr

                        That's why the Fahrenheit range was set where it was. In the temperate zone, most of the time, the temperature is between zero and 100.

                        Most English units are similar in having been chosen for convenience in ordinary usage.

                        1. re: kmcarr

                          Difference in opinion (and experience) I suppose. For me, -40°C = too cold, 40°C = too hot (in weather terms). Meanwhile, in cooking terms, nice increments of 25°C give very useful ranges for the oven:

                          150°C, 175°C, 200°C, 225°C, 250°C. Almost the only settings I need - with the lone exception of 100°C for crème brulée and other such items.

                          I think that what's "intuitive" is all a matter of experience and cultural exposure. What you grew up with will usually seem the most intuitive, just as the language you grew up with always seems more intuitive in terms of how you express a new concept than a foreign language.

                      2. Scooping is an inaccurate measure, and the same baker can scoop 4 oz. one day, 4.5 another, and on still another, 5 oz. A "cup" of flour should weigh in between 4.25 and 4.5 according to various sources. The variance will cause different results in the same recipe, carefully followed, from one baking session to the next,

                        Much better to use weights. No matter how you get it onto the scale, the weight won't change.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mcsheridan

                          But how do you convert a recipe that uses 1 cup? Do you convert it to 4.25 or to 4.5. Or what if the recipe is currently working with flour that weighs 5?

                          If you are happy with the recipe as it is written, and aren't in the mood to test a conversion, then don't convert. It's that old, 'if it's not broken, don't try to fix' adage.

                          1. re: paulj

                            I'm not converting a thing; that's the OPs plan. I'm just addressing accuracy re: volume vs. weight. However, if I had to convert, I'd use 4.25 oz. as a starting point.

                            I agree with you; I have a scale now, and where weights are called for, I'll rely on that. Some older recipes that rely on volume measures? Well, I'm not throwing away my measuring cups.

                            I love how some of the newer cookbooks, including Peter Reinhart's TBBA, post both measures.

                            Even if I was going to convert from volume to weights, I'd probably stick with ounces unless there were an extreme need for precision.

                          2. re: mcsheridan

                            Not really. If the baker scoops the same way every time, it's the same measure, more or less.

                          3. Your scale also has pounds and ounces.
                            If you are happy with your old recipes why bother changing them? Scooping may not be the most accurate measuring method but it is fast and for making things like pizza bread dough I have to adjust water amount anyway.

                            A scale is nice to have especially when you learn the tare function. The metric system is no more accurate, it is easier to convert measurements but how often will you do that? You have a kitchen not a lab. Measurements can be by the pinch or shake with very few disasters.

                            20 Replies
                            1. re: divadmas

                              United States, Liberia and Myanmar are the only countries in the entire world, maybe the entire universe that do not use the metric system. That in itself says that logical thinking people believe the metric system to be more accurate and easy to use.

                              1. re: genoO

                                In what way is the metric system more accurate?

                                For some cooking tasks using weight instead of volume measures is more consistent. But that's not the same as saying metric is more accurate. There are metric volume measures (L, ml), and there are American weight measures (lb, oz).

                                Boeing still uses the American units, while GM is all metric. Does the construction of a car require more accuracy than the construction of an airplane?

                                In a sense, the difference between GM and Boeing explains why the USA has not switched (on a national level). GM is an international company using suppliers from around the globe. Boeing is the biggest player in its market, and has a lot of control over its supply chain, and maintenance network.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  The Boeing 767 was the first all-metric US airliner.

                                2. re: genoO

                                  The fact is that the metric system is used a great deal in the United States. The difference is that in the US we do not compel the usage of one particular system everywhere. There are many examples of this, but to cite just one food-related example: If you order a beer on tap in a bar, it will likely be served in a glass of 12, 14, or 16 fluid ounces (US), but if the beer is imported, it may be served in its own glass marked in ml (typically 500). Nobody is confused by this. Nobody objects to this. Americans aren't nearly as metric-phobic as Europeans make us out to be, now that the government has stopped trying to force us to convert.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    Most wine comes in 750ml bottles, even when produced in the USA. I heard on The Splendid Table that this is roughly the lung capacity of a glass blower.

                                    A lot of beverages come in 'rounded' ml sizes, e.g. 500 ml bottles of water.

                                  2. re: genoO

                                    The use of metric units has nothing to do with accuracy. Any system of measurement is as accurate as any other, when applied as diligently as necessary to achieve the desired accuracy.

                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      Not when temperature is concerned.

                                    2. re: genoO

                                      China, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, etc, etc use the metric system. Most of their stuff is still crap. Give me a U.S. made Imperial product any day.

                                      1. re: Antilope

                                        The US does not use Imperial units. We use US Customary units, which are not the same.

                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          Thank you teacher.

                                        2. re: Antilope

                                          units of measurement have nothing at all to do with product quality.

                                          I'd be quite interested to hear the reaction if you were to tell some of Mercedes Benz' or BMW's top-flight engineers that their stuff is crap because they use the metric system.

                                        3. re: genoO

                                          I'm quite "logical thinking", and I don't think the metric system is any easier or more accurate. This is a little like the argument that I should like soccer -- because it's foreign and therefore better.

                                          1. re: jmckee

                                            Its definitely more consistent. Measure a cup of flour and weigh it. Do this 5 times. You'll get a different result every time. They may differ even by 25%. The weight of a cup of four differs as you change brands. Take White Lily Flour. When a recipe calls for a cup of flour, they recommend you add 2 more tablespoons a s acup of White Lily is lighter than a cup of King Arthur. When you weigh, it just allows for much more consistent results.

                                            1. re: GOJIRA

                                              Your example has to do with weight vs. volume measurements, not metric vs. US Customary units.

                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                The original post seems to be comparing weight and volume (op is asking how accurate just scooping flour with a measuring cup is hence my post) I dont think op was comparing oz. vs. grams from the way the question was worded.

                                                1. re: GOJIRA

                                                  Yes, and you are both muddling up the two issues.

                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                    I think we're lost in translation lol.

                                                    While the title seems to be addressing the differences between the metric system and the u.s. customary system, it is clear that op meant to ask about volume vs. weight and only titled it that way by mistake. Just an error in the title. We're human but its easy to understand what the actual problem was here. My post has to do with the actual issue op was having.So to be clear, my post has nothing to do with comparing different official systems of measurements. Didn't mean to muddle the two issues together.

                                                    1. re: GOJIRA

                                                      The OP question was whether it was worth converting personal recipes to weights. The OP is already careful with flour (where the weight v volume issue is clearest).

                                                      Let's say he has a recipe that works well now, and he converts it using values from some print source - and the converted values don't end up matching what he's been used to doing. e.g. his scooping produces 110g/c flour, and he uses a 120 g/c conversion factor. The new 'metric' recipe will end up being consistent and repeatable - but consistently wrong.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        But if it were noticeable "wrong," the cook would adjust the recipe until it came out right, not repeat it.

                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          It can be VERY hard, without a comprehensive knowledge of cooking theory and food science, to adjust a recipe in the wake of change of measure, in order to replicate previous results, if your measurement technique in the past was approximate. The problem is that you have too many variables (each ingredient is a separate variable) changing out from underneath you, and to adjust the recipe, you'll have to change only one at a time; this could be a lengthy process and it may not be obvious when it's right because the adjustment may have been made perfectly for one ingredient but still not right for another, and then identifying when to stop changing the measurement of the one and start experimenting with the next is difficult.

                                                          Also it should be added that this assumes that the intended result is known. It can well be that a person comes across a recipe, tries it possibly with some conversions and thinks the result just fine, when in fact it actually is quite different from what it was supposed to be like - or the converse can be the case, the end result can seem unappealing to the person who tried it, and it may not be clear whether that's because the result achieved was what was intended by the original recipe designer, the recipe was poor, or the measurement conversion was off.

                                                          There are other strange effects. Some years ago I helped a person struggling with a chocolate mousse recipe that came out terribly for them every time. It turned out that the problem is that they were trying to downscale a recipe that made a fairly large quantity into one that made a quantity adequate for two, and you just couldn't do it with the way the recipe had been developed and the techniques that were being used. Indeed, not all recipes are amenable to downscaling, period. Roasts can't usually be effectively downscaled from a certain minimum size because they rely on reactions that need a certain mass of meat. Etc etc.

                                      2. using a scale for recipe ingredients will produce accurate results, regardless of whether or not you use metric. however, trying to measure solids, like flour, with cups is NOT accurate. weights will always be best.

                                        1. There are 2 different issues here:

                                          - volume measures v weights

                                          - American v metric measures. Both systems have volume and weight units.

                                          To give an example. I've learned through some trial and error that 4 oz of pasta feeds the 2 of us nicely. So rather than trying to eyeball 1/4 of a 1 lb package, I weigh out 4oz. So I'm using weights. But I don't feel a need to convert to metric (something around 120g).

                                          Or for making biscuits. I have a good rule of thumb worked out - 2c of flour (mixed), 2 tsp bp, 1/2t salt, etc. Why should I change to weight? I end up adding just enough liquid to make a dough with the right consistency. Pancakes are the same story - I'm aiming for a specific batter consistency.

                                          At the same time, I'm happy to make a parkin recipe that is based on grams. Though even with that I'm likely to scale the quantities based on my estimate of how much volume my particular baking pan will take.

                                          For many things weight is more accurate. But usually I have a more intuitive feel about volume measures. I can eyeball a tsp of salt in the palm of my hand. I can't judge that by weight. I can eyeball the flour and butter for a roux; I have no idea what the corresponding weights are.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: paulj

                                            That's an excellent point. I can measure out a teaspoon or a cup by eye, even without a proper measuring device. 125 g is harder to do.

                                            I do use weight for some things. Candy making, pickling and brining get done by weight - there's a significant difference between a cup of salt depending on the grain size, and it's the concentration that's the important part in the recipe. I will also use weight for oddly shaped things where it's hard to intuitively measure - a cup of fruit depends on the size of the pieces, it's easier to weight butter than to pack into a measuring cup evenly, and so on.

                                            In general, for most cooking and basic baking, I find that the variation in the amount of flour or sugar in a cup has a smaller effect than things like the level of gluten in the flour, or the humidity in the air (having used flours in three different countries, and baked in humidities ranging from 10% to 100%). I always go in with the idea that I may need to adjust things, because there basically aren't English language recipes written for exact baking ingredients I have on hand.

                                            The one thing I will mention is that "cup" is *not* a universal standard. I grew up with a cup being ~250 ml. In Japan and Taiwan, a cup is 200 ml. Now *that* makes a difference in your baking.

                                          2. I use both systems with frequency. This comes from regularly moving back and forth between the US and overseas and we're currently overseas.

                                            Cooking from an American recipe? I use cups.

                                            Cooking from a metric (or British imperial) recipe? I use the scales.

                                            I never attempt to convert from one to the other.

                                            Weight measurement is more precise and if comparing two identical recipes whose only difference is weight versus volume measurements, the weight will be slightly more reliable for some ingredients. For both systems you'll still use teaspoons and tablespoons for salt and other small volume ingredients.

                                            But it's rare for me to have issues with American volume based recipes and I do a lot of baking where precision is more important than in other fields of cooking. I've made plenty of great cakes, bread, cookies and other baked goods from American recipes. Put it this way, a couple hundred million American cooks can't have been cooking too badly :)

                                            If you're using metric mostly for baking, you'll find with metric that weight based recipes are most reliable when it comes to ingredients like flour or confectioner's sugar. But other ingredients such as regular sugar are pretty consistently the same weight to the same volume. Most metric recipes will still call for X eggs, not eggs by weight, despite that egg sizes can and do vary.

                                            This is not a defense or endorsement of either system. I think it's great to have scales around as that opens you up to many more recipes online and cookbooks published overseas. But as the US will never go metric, the volume/cup measurement system isn't one American cooks will be able to put completely aside, so even if you favor metric you'll still use the American system every now and then.

                                            As for Celsius versus Fahrenheit, I prefer F as it seems more, well, reflective of the actual temperature. When it's 100 degrees F you know it's bloody well hot ;) But 40 C? Err...that doesn't seem hot at all. And F allows for slightly more gradation between the temperatures.

                                            21 Replies
                                            1. re: Roland Parker

                                              Cakes are an American home baking specialty. Sure the genoise is European, but most pastry baking is done by professionals. Cookbooks full of cake and cookie recipes are typically American. Biscuits (scones not with standing), muffins, quick breads, and pancakes are basically American developments (almost anything using baking powder). And kitchen equipment matches - things like stand mixers and large ovens.

                                              1. re: Roland Parker

                                                The difference between each degree C is perceivable, between each degree of F, not so much. How is C less reflective? 0 is freezing, 100 is boiling, seems much better to me. F is just arbitrary.
                                                What if there was another system out there where 1000 degrees is a normal hot day, would you use that? 1000 seems hot, and it allows even more gradation between temperatures.

                                                Also, weights are better because you only need to use a scale and a bowl, no cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, etc, much simpler, easier to clean up, and quicker.

                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                  1 deg C is 9/5, not quite twice, that of 1 deg F.

                                                  Yes, C was chosen with the freezing point of water at 0, and sea level boiling at 100. But absolute 0 is -273.15C. You have to switch to Kelvin if you want that to be 0.

                                                  F isn't arbitrary. Yes, water freezing is 32, and boiling 212, a difference of 180 (hence the exact 9/5 conversion). Absolute 0 is − 491.67, not any uglier a number than the -273.15. 0F to 100F neatly spans the cold and hot temperature range of many temperate places. Body temperature is also close to 100F. Fahrenheit was not dummy, and his scale has been used quite effectively by engineers.

                                                  As a cook, I don't see a significant benefit for one scale v. the other. Baking temperatures of 300F, 350F, and 400F are just as nice as 150C,175C, and 200C.

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    I was thinking about other units that are tied to C or F.

                                                    A calorie is the amount of heat required to raise 1 kg of water 1C (that's the large, nutritionist's calorie). But a BTU is the heat needed to raise 1 lb of water 1F. But neither is part of ISI, used by most scientists. There the unit of heat (and energy) is the joule, which has a kinetic definition (kg m^2/s^2).

                                                    I can't think of a way in which the unit of temperature (e.g. C) is tied to units of volume, mass and/or time.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      A gram of water at a particular temperature (maximum density, I think) is one cubic centimeter.

                                                  2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                    It isn't arbitary. Fahrenheit defined his zero point using a brine with ammonium chloride, water and ice, which produces a stable cold temperature. The 100 °F point is approximately body temperature. It's a little off, but he probably wanted the freezing and boiling points of water to come out even, because they do.

                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                      What's the significance of the fact that -40 °F= = -40°C?

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        That's just the way it came out. The functions have to intersect somewhere.

                                                    2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                      There would be no point to using a scale so fine such that a difference of one degree could not be distinguished visually on an ordinary thermomometer.

                                                      All English and American units were chosen to be convenient in actual everyday use. A grain, for example, was the weight of an average barleycorn, which was readily available to anyone so could conveniently be used to measure small weights.

                                                    3. re: Roland Parker

                                                      this is what I do -- I have measuring equipment for both systems, so I use whatever is appicable to the recipe.

                                                      I have, however, converted a number of my recipes for friends who want a recipe that originated in the other system (European friends asking for US recipes, US friends asking for European recipes)

                                                      I do this by making the recipe, measuring it out in the original system, then weighing or measuring it to convert it across.

                                                      Putzy, but once it's done, it's done -- I create a document that then has both measurements, and everybody's happy!

                                                      My scale (bought in France) works with both imperial and metric. The measurements for a tablespoon/cuillere a soupe and teaspoon/cuillere a cafe are so close that I just use my standard spoons.

                                                      I also have two digital thermometers -- one C, one F. When one of them dies, I'm buying one that will switch.

                                                      If in doubt, I use this -- the best online converter I've found: http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/...

                                                      1. re: Roland Parker

                                                        Sure, but if one grew up with Celcius, then those Fahrenheit temperatures make no sense. I know that 40C is HOT, but I'd have to find converter to know what 100F really is (in my mind)

                                                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                          easy on-the-fly conversion:

                                                          Take F, multiply times 2, and add 30
                                                          (10C x 2 = 20 +30 = 50F)

                                                          So the other way round gives you C to F:

                                                          Subtract 30 and divide by 2.

                                                          It's not scientifically accurate, but it's close enough most of the time...

                                                          350F oven? Subtract 30 and get 320, divide by 2 and you have 160C. The scientific formula gives you 176C.

                                                          So not 100%, but okay if you don't happen to have a converter to hand.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            And for those recipes that use Kelvin, these are close enough:
                                                            475K = 400F
                                                            450 = 350
                                                            425 = 300

                                                            Light bulbs may be labeled in Kelvin - daylight is higher K, soft white lower.

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              I can honestly say I have never seen a recipe printed anywhere on two continents with temperatures in K.

                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                              Thanks, but I am not great at remembering numbers, so I have to look up the equation. I'm very good at math, I just find it difficult to remember equations :)

                                                              1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                Your cell phone might have a temperature converting function in its 'tools'.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  Yep! Only way I am able to easily convert. It actually gets used a lot when cooking, as sometimes a recipe calls for a x oz. can of something. I need to see now many mls that is

                                                            3. re: CanadaGirl

                                                              100°F. is really not too hot by oven standards. In fact, I have never heard of an oven that can be set to less than 170°F.

                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                New digital ovens can go lower. I have not actually use the function but mine has a dehydrate setting so I'm guessifg it can at least go to 135°f. Thinking about it I have set to 100°f for some dough then turned it off when the temperature reached alarm dinged. I have not used a separate thermometer to check the oven accuracy but not worried. While finished product temperature, like meat, can be critical the actual cooking temperature can vary a good bit with no problem but adjusteng time.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  my oven in Europe had a dough-proofing setting that was at 35C -- about 95F

                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                    I turn the light on in my oven while making my bread then put the dough in the oven to let it rise.
                                                                    It becomes the perfect warm dry place at exactly 100°F.

                                                                    Rick

                                                              2. I do everything in metric

                                                                1. I like weight because there are fewer dishes involved. Accuracy is a side benefit.

                                                                  And with metric conversions, you can share with Chowhounds around the world.

                                                                  I often just weigh my volume measurements then note it in pencil on the recipe as I go.

                                                                  I often thank myself later.

                                                                  Online conversions are often OK, too.

                                                                  Just remember that different things weigh different amounts. (I know, duh, right? But true.) Hard flour vs. soft flour vs. sugar, etc.

                                                                  1. I've grown up with metric weight measurements in recipes and find them far easier.

                                                                    I find it tricky following American baking recipes. I'm stumped as to how to measure a cup of butter. Unless your butter is extremely soft how do you make that accurate? As for recipes that use a stick of butter - I have no idea what that is as butter doesn't come packaged that way where I live.

                                                                    I would convert your recipes to weight and note down metric and imperial. Seeing both side by side may help you get comfortable with metric.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Frizzle

                                                                      lol. 1 stick of butter is 1/2 cup, but that doesn't help you at all does it?

                                                                      1. re: Frizzle

                                                                        The butter thing is a funny one, isn't it? American recipes often refer to butter measurements in terms of sticks, reflecting standard packaging in the US (1 stick is 4 oz, and pounds of butter are sold as four sticks) or, even more confusingly, by volume as in cups or tablespoons (8 "tablespoons" per "1/2 cup" stick). It would certainly make life simpler for those outside the US if recipes also included butter in weight.

                                                                        Once you know the conventions, i.e., that 1 stick=1/2 cup=4 oz, life becomes easier, but it is possible to measure accurately via volume using the displacement method (albeit kind of a PITA): Fill a liquid measure with 8 oz water, add butter until the volume reads 12 oz, and you have 1/2 cup butter by volume. This is also very handy for sticky stuff like peanut butter.

                                                                        1. re: Frizzle

                                                                          Growing up in Bermuda we had American cups but butter came in blocks from Australia and NZ - so much time spent softening butter and squooshing into those cups!

                                                                          These days I have the equipment to use whatever the recipe is written in. I still find it impossible to visualise metric quantities when reading a recipe though.

                                                                          1. re: Athena

                                                                            I hope all butter comes in blocks in the future. At my supermarket, Plugra barely sells as people tend to be scared off when they're not dealing with the nice neat sticks with volume measurements on them. Would be nice if those sticks just disappeared and the rest of the country were forced to go metric.

                                                                            1. re: GOJIRA

                                                                              It isn't a matter of fear. People buy sticks of butter because a stick fits in a butter dish and because the sticks are marked in tbsp. I buy one-lb bricks for cooking, but also buy quarter-lb sticks for those reasons.

                                                                              As for your last statement, why would you take pleasure in coercion? In the US most of us believe in the liberty to do as we please in private matters which do not do any harm to others.

                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                It sounds to me a bit like Gojira may be a sales rep for Plugra, but my guess is what he's saying is that it's disappointing people buy for familiarity and convenience more so that for quality (although the question of whether Plugra is somehow a better quality product probably depends on your opinions ... and whether or not you sell it ;-) )

                                                                                Which I think is the same point you're making, slightly differently: people are buying for convenience, given the choice. Of course the question of "fitting a butter dish" is itself tied to local convention and the 2 have probably co-evolved: butter dishes here in the UK (such as they are to be found at all) fit what is a "standard" 250 g block very nicely; the same is probably true elsewhere. In any case, cutting any amount of butter into a suitable shape isn't difficult - but people do buy for convenience.

                                                                                The question of coercion, however, is complex when it's linked to local social convention. In industries where things have evolved to standard measurements and sizes then on the one hand it usually requires that change be made compulsory in order for it to change and on the other hand the idea that anyone has "the liberty to do as they please" is entirely illusory - particularly in this case as it can do (economic) harm to others - or conversely may be the cause of current harm that could be removed if a standard were enforced.

                                                                                A question then: Should recipes be adapted to local standards (at possible loss of quality if the adaptation is somewhat free) or should they be rigorously maintained according to how they were written, even if the units or ingredients described have long since become obsolete?

                                                                                1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                  A thoughtful reply, but I cannot see where there is any harm to anyone in letting people use metric or not for cooking, as they please. Businesses will go where the economics are favorable. For example, the liquor industry changed from the 4/5 quart bottle to the 3/4 liter bottle years ago, because they sell in an international marketplace. US consumers were neither harmed nor helped by this change. It doesn't matter.

                                                                                  Your last paragraph is entirely hypothetical, because the US is a sufficiently large locality to not suffer economic loss by the use of local units. US Customary unit are not "obsolete" within the US, it's just that some people wish they were. In certain contexts, as with liquor, they may become obsolete and lead business owners to convert in order to export. For import, we buy imported food products all the time marked in metric units. No government agency objects to this because no one is harmed by it.

                                                                                  And as for recipe quality, there are other issues besides units which affect the conversion of a European recipe for US use. See Julia Child's memoir in which she described the writing of "Mastering ..." for example. She wrote a quality book because she put a lot of effort into it. Others may not work so hard and produce liw-quality recipes, whether for sloppy unit conversion or other reasons. A lot of life is like that, not merely cooking.

                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                    Sorry, I wasn't implying, and didn't mean to imply, any specific ingredients or units to be considered as "obsolete", but rather, such that these exist (and certainly they do - recipes that specify products no longer manufactured, or old recipes written with units no longer in use - anywhere), should recipes be updated or retained?

                                                                                    Recipe quality, or rather the perception of it, though, depends a lot on the audience for whom you are writing. Not only do expectations change from place to place, but indeed through time. For instance, the idea of what a good cake should be like is quite different if you compare, say, the USA, England, and France - and also if the period in question is the 1850's, the 1950's, the 1970's, or today. Is it better to adapt, e.g. an old English recipe to suit modern American tastes, or a cutting-edge French one to suit traditional English tastes, or present it exactly as intended - particularly when the ingredients that may be available inevitably lead to differences in result? The problem becomes even more magnified when the differences in location and culture become larger - how do you present Chinese recipes in Italy, or Peruvian recipes in Japan?

                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                      im not sure if i offended anyone so i apologize if i did. I didn't mean to attack our freedom. :(

                                                                                      I just wish our cookbooks would at least include metric units for better consistency in recipes. For example, in the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook, it gives measurements in both volume and weight. Im fine with others measuring by volume but if more people started using scales, cookbook authors would me more motivated to include weights. It just allows for better consistency and its why I prefer it. Unfortunately, its very rare to see in cookbooks hence my fantasies for the disappearance of butter sticks. Without their precious tablespoon measurements, more people will be forced to use a scale. *thunder crackles in background*

                                                                                      Plus European butter just makes for better brioche and croissants.

                                                                                    2. re: AlexRast

                                                                                      sales rep? lol.

                                                                                      I've always dreamed of being a butter salesmen.

                                                                                      I actually dont use Plugra that much and have a loyalty to Lescure. The bad part is it involves me using the subway just to get it so I can only get it on days that I have class. Plugra is just the best one that I have access to at my local supermarket without traveling. I just like the higher butter fat contents of European/European-style butter for baking.

                                                                            2. It's unlikely many Americans are using Imperial units. We use the US Customary System.

                                                                              If a recipe works, leave it alone, and use Metric Units where there is a point to it. There is no more reason to be monometric than thete is to be monolingual.

                                                                              If you stick with one flour for a particular recipe, and measure it not merely "carefully" but properly and consistently, then it is as accurate as it needs to be for nearly everything.

                                                                              1. I wonder people managed to cook before inexpensive and accurate digital scales were invented. The only scale in my grandmother's kitchen looked like this:

                                                                                http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-fre...

                                                                                1. Well, well, well. I've learned a lot with posting this thread. My biggest concern was the weight of a cup of flour. Personally, I believe I scoop out approximately 4.25 oz. most of the time cuz I am careful and light fingered.
                                                                                  I'll try 4.25 oz. on my scales from now on, though.

                                                                                  I could never get my head wrapped around C. F is a far better heat indicator, IMHO.

                                                                                  Butter comes in pounds, divided into for sticks at 8 Tablespoon per stick here in the USA.
                                                                                  Some 'foreign' recipes weigh it.
                                                                                  I may be able to figure out that one unless they use grams on me... as they sometimes do.

                                                                                  Many many thanks, everybody,
                                                                                  Rick

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: thegrindre

                                                                                    Your digital scale should switch between standard and metric, making grams no issue. But as far as butter goes, a stick is ~115 grams (1 oz = 28g), so it's pretty easy to figure out, whether or not you use a scale.

                                                                                    Next time you measure a cup of flour, put a bowl on your scale, tare the scale, and dump in your flour to see how accurate your volume measures are. The better baking-oriented cookbooks will give weights, but at least, it's also helpful when they explain how they expect you to measure flour by volume, i.e., spoon and level or scoop and level. For instance, Cook's Illustrated uses a heavy measure, 5 oz/cup for all-purpose flour, because they specify scooping and leveling, while King Arthur Flour recipes specify spooning and leveling and assume a weight of 4.25 oz/cup for most recipes, but sometimes 4 ozz/cup for cakes.

                                                                                  2. Personally, I have converted all of my bread recipes to metric as it makes ratios much easier to calculate and measurement more precise in our humid climate. Otherwise, I haven't changed much. I may start moving some candy recipes but since I have all the U.S. standard volumetric measuring stuff, there is no compelling reason. The recipes that truely annoy me are those from the UK that mix metric and imperial. "So many grams of this, so many kilos of that and 5 and a half tablespoons of something else".

                                                                                    By the by, your recipes may become more accurate, but they will not start out that way in the case of things that have variable weights. If your cup of flour weighs 100 grams one day and 115 another, you have to choose which one is better; that is, "more accurate".

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: akachochin

                                                                                      If flour absorbs moisture from the humid air, how does that affect measurements? Does it affect volume or mass more?

                                                                                      I expect damp flour will be denser, but it also require less added water to achieve the same final hydration.

                                                                                    2. Congratulations for your new scale!. I always weight in grams all my ingredients. I just have problems when I need to measure small quantities (e.g. 2 g of yeast) because my digital scale is not very precise around 1-4 grams.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: AngelaValiente

                                                                                        I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I'm anticipating springing for a gram scale. There's a nice one out there for $12. American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale

                                                                                        1. re: AngelaValiente

                                                                                          I love my gram scale. I have the KD 8000 and it's great for even small amounts on the 1-2 gram level.

                                                                                        2. Meh, just eyeball it.

                                                                                          Unless it's some super technical pastry or bread, don't sweat the details.

                                                                                          A teaspoon, er, I mean 4 grams of salt might be good for you, but might not be enough for you; or vice versa.

                                                                                          Live a little. It'll make cooking, and life, interesting.

                                                                                          And isn't that why we're all sort of hanging around, anyway? The interesting stuff.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            While my scales register grams, I do not trust them for adding small things like salt and baking powder. I've have considered getting a jewelers scale (.1 gram resolution) for use with molecular gastronomy ingredients. Such a scale isn't expensive, but it is another thing to store. And I am unlikely to pull it out when mixing a batch of biscuits for breakfast.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              I use this one.
                                                                                              http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0012LOQUQ/?...
                                                                                              May as well get one that goes to .01, plus it's only $10, and tiny.

                                                                                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                For home use I use this one. Accurate to 0.1 gm, and has a 600 gm capacity. $35.
                                                                                                http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/jen...

                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                  Do you use it for everything, or do you have another scale? I could probably get by pretty well with just that one, though sometimes it is necessary to have a .01g scale for certain things. Mostly modernist type preps.

                                                                                                  I also have this one for bigger stuff
                                                                                                  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005QRWEBK/?...

                                                                                                  I wish I had a scale that goes in .01 gram increments all the way to 2 kilos. Those probably cost at least a hundred bucks though, so I'll get by with just having 2 scales for now.

                                                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                    I use that one for most kitchen use, and making things like bitters and tinctures.

                                                                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              Totally agree - unless pastry or cakes or cookies, I don't use recipes at all. And the metric system is totally superior, as I learned in engineering school.

                                                                                            3. I want to add one more comment about weight versus volume cooking, and this is particularly relevant to baking.

                                                                                              When you see an European/UK recipe for, say, a cake that calls for flour and butter, keep in mind that the flour and butter are not going to be exactly the same as their American counterpart. European butter has a higher butterfat content than American butter (not saying one is superior than the other, they're just slightly different). American butter will release more water while European butter releases more fat.

                                                                                              Flour also varies by gluten. American all purpose flour is roughly the same as British plain flour, but not exactly the same.

                                                                                              Then Europeans have additional types of sugar that are rare in the US, such as caster sugar, demerara and so on. 100g of caster sugar is not the same as 100g as regular sugar.

                                                                                              So if you see a British recipe online that you want to make, and it's in metric, just be aware that your raw ingredients aren't necessarily going to be the same. Having lived and baked for so many years overseas, I tend to bake recipes suited to the ingredients I have on hand (I've learned this through trial and error). Where I live most of the baking ingredients are imported from the UK so I end up baking mostly British metric recipes. But when I'm in the US I find it more reliable to bake American recipes.

                                                                                              Having said this, it's rare for a baking recipe to turn out to be a disaster by subbing American for British butter or the same for flour, and vice versa, but I've experienced enough differences between the end result and my initial expectations that I find it easier and more reliable to bake for the country I'm living in.

                                                                                              17 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                Thank you so much for this. In cooking from UK recipes, the only struggle we have is figuring out different names for veg and certain cuts of meat, but your point on character of ingredients for baking is well taken. Might help prevent some disappointments.

                                                                                                Always nice to hear advice from the voice of experience.

                                                                                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                  Cuts of meat can be tricky - but I've seen a website that has sketches of cows marked up with American and British cuts. Google should find it for you. I don't think there are too many veg differences - aubergine and courgette probably being the most commonly encountered. You can also generally assume that when an American name for something is "English X", then we'll just call it "X".

                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                    Well, in the case of veg, I won't eat aubergines nor courgettes, no matter *what* you call them. I guess I'm thinking more of varietal names for things like potatoes; Maris Piper, for example. Although there are hundreds of varieties of potatoes, the ones I most commonly see in the markets here, aside from fingerlings and other mini-potatoes, are Russets, Yukon Gold, Red Potatoes, and Eastern Whites (grown mostly on Long Island in NY State).

                                                                                                    I just recently found a nice pictorial database on UK potatoes that explains the Maris and many, many others.

                                                                                                    1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                      Good point about variety. Recipes may well suggest a particular potato - you don't want a waxy one for mash, for example.

                                                                                                      There's probably similar issues with apple - our most common one for cooking is the Bramley but I would doubt if it's much grown outside of the UK and Ireland.

                                                                                                    2. re: Harters

                                                                                                      Even with a direct cross-chart, identifying cuts of meat could be difficult for people (probably most, I'm guessing) not quite familiar with the anatomy of the animal and how it relates to cuts, particularly since the actual cuts involved can be very different and done along different lines. I had an ex-pat friend in the US recently complain that he couldn't find an acceptable substitute for rump steak; US cows aren't cut that way.

                                                                                                      A couple of (wildly off-topic) pedantic scientific points in response to other posts:

                                                                                                      Technically, BTUs and calories aren't even directly comparable, because a pound is a unit of force whereas a kg is a unit of mass. So the definition of a BTU would, technically, depend on where you were (e.g. on the Moon it would be considerably more than on Earth, on Jupiter considerably less)

                                                                                                      Light bulb ratings in Kelvins actually don't refer to temperature at all. The "colour temperature" of a light bulb is a very rough estimate of the mean colour of light emitted. A 9000 K bulb would be very blue, a 6500 K bulb yellow (in fact, very close to natural light), a 3000 K bulb red. All of these are very fine shadings away from a "pure" white. The temperature is referred to an "ideal black body" - a somewhat hypothetical construct involving a hollow cavity with a tiny hole heated to a high temperature. That is, if the material could survive (tungsten is about the only thing that could come close).

                                                                                                      My point in this is just to remind people not to get too carried away over scientific technicalities because you frequently find they either don't apply or are used in a very strange, indirect sense. Don't treat recipes as a scientific formulation - go with what gives good results.

                                                                                                      In baking or cooking, weight or mass vs. volume matters in the sense that it's important to know what the recipe you're using intends: in that sense metric should be more unambiguous because 200 g always means by mass and 200 ml always means by volume, whereas in avoirdupois units: ounces, the same name can be used to refer either to a volumetric measurement or a weight measurement.

                                                                                                      Should the OP convert their recipes to metric, then? Depends upon how they were devised. If they're approximate, should be fine. If they're precision recipes, and intent matters, verify what the units are intended to represent. But if the OP is already familiar with the recipes as is, I don't think there's a compelling reason to change.

                                                                                                  2. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                    Another volume issue - not all cups are the same size. I bought a cup measure when living in Singapore and discovered they say a cup is 200mls. Quite different to the 250mls we say equates to a cup in New Zealand.

                                                                                                    1. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                      British liquid measure and US liquid measure are not the same.

                                                                                                      A pint is not a pint, which is insane, but it's the way it is.

                                                                                                      Sounds like the Singapore cups are British -- 1 US cup is about 0.83 UK cups...so the UK cup is bigger, and probably the 200ml you saw.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        Yeah, but we don't generally use cup measurements in the UK. Presumably someone would only manufacture measuring cups for British customers wanting to use American recipes - surely it would be a tiny customer base.

                                                                                                      2. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                        That's odd, because an Imperial cup is about 284 ml. The Imperial cup is 20% larger than US Customary.

                                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                          The Imperial fluid ounce is 4% smaller than the US fl oz, which is why the Imperial pint is only a little more than 20% larger than the US pint, instead of 25%.

                                                                                                        2. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                          And in some old recipes, a 'cup' is a tea cup, or what ever the cook happened have on hand in the kitchen. If I recall correctly, the original Russian recipe for stroganoff used a 'glass' as measuring unit.

                                                                                                          http://www.asia.si.edu/explore/ancien...

                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                            and older French recipes still use "a mustard glass" as a valid measurement.

                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                              Yes, I have such a cookbook. "A bowl of rice" is in one recipe. It would be nice to know what size bowl.

                                                                                                              1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                                                                                                Fannie Merritt Farmer and the Boston Cooking School is credited with introducing standardized measurements to home cooks (around 1900)
                                                                                                                http://www.joepastry.com/2011/who-was...
                                                                                                                "And in fact we have her to thank for introducing standardized measurements (cups, tablespoons and teaspoons) to the home kitchen."

                                                                                                                http://www.cooksinfo.com/fannie-merri...
                                                                                                                "[1] This is often over-stated. She didn't actually standardize in her books what exactly a given measurement was -- e.g. 1 cup equalling 8 oz -- but rather she specified how to measure: how to level off cups of dry measures, how to level off teaspoons, etc. At no point, though, did she define a teaspoon, in the way that it is now, for instance, as 5 ml. "

                                                                                                                1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                                                                                                  What's the recipe about? Is it not possible to intuit how much rice to use?

                                                                                                            2. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                              Someone gave me a measuring cup that measures volume in multiple systems, including American cup and UK cup. I rarely see (if ever!) cups used in a British recipe, so it's obviously a leftover from way, way, back, and the retro design of the measuring cup implies this. As far as I'm aware only North Americans use cups regularly.

                                                                                                              But you can see the difference in the two cups. It is fascinating in its own way how the different systems emerged in different countries.

                                                                                                               
                                                                                                              1. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                                Heh. Yeah, a cup in Sri Lanka, for example, can be anywhere from 140 to 250 mls, depending on the recipe, and not mentioned anywhere.

                                                                                                                They also have other units of measure -
                                                                                                                -a bottle, which is 700ml (took me a few years to find that out)
                                                                                                                -dessert spoon which is two teaspoons
                                                                                                                -teacup which is, I believe, around 140 mls, which overlaps the cup range.

                                                                                                                There are others, but I don't recall them at the moment. I'm from Canada, lived in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Singapore, and now we're in Malaysia. It's been... interesting. :)

                                                                                                            3. I switched to all metric (cooking, distance, temperature ) years ago (the UK as a whole still has a peculiar mix of metric and imperial). I can't do non-metric at all now, have to look things up! I have a set of cooking cups for US recipes and a calculator in the kitchen for when I am using old recipe books. I found a really useful converter in a food magazine that showed cups of flour, sugar, etc in grams, which I refer to a lot.
                                                                                                              Enjoy your digital scale. I only got mind about a month ago for the sort of precision weighing you need for some baking and wouldn't be without it.

                                                                                                              1. Metric is great, but not the be all and end all. I have encountered "metric" recipes that use volume measurements. The cup is just 250ml instead of 240ml. They still use Tablespoons and teaspoons along with some gram measurements. So some ingredients are listed by metric weight and some by metric volume. That is still a problem. Or a "metric" recipe will convert Imperial amounts like using 450gm of flour instead of 500gm. That's 1-lb. How is that better than Imperial?

                                                                                                                Pretzels (metric recipe with mixed weights and volumes)
                                                                                                                http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/8916/...

                                                                                                                Quick focaccia (metric recipe with mixed weights and volumes)
                                                                                                                http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/1481/...

                                                                                                                Bread rolls (metric recipe using Imperial amounts - 450gm - 1-lb)
                                                                                                                http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/25089...

                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                  again -- the unit of measurement use is no indication of quality.

                                                                                                                  There are crappy recipes out there using both units.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    People seem to have the notion that the metric system is superior to the Imperial system. I've pointed out examples that in real world applications, it's not.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                      Like has been mentioned above, it is not the Imperial system, it is what has become an outdated and expensive system to measure. Most anything exported, which isn't a whole lot the past decade, must show the metric equivalent. Flour, beef, pie tins, bolts, steel, paper stock must be shown in the metric system to be allowed in foreign countries.
                                                                                                                      The contracts for highways, bridges and infrastructure are written in metric in the US. That is the law and everyone follows along if they want to bid on a job.
                                                                                                                      When it comes to the people in general accepting something business has been accepting for decades, the USA acts like North Korea. Leave me alone.

                                                                                                                      1. re: genoO

                                                                                                                        Thanks for all the arm waving and throwing dirt in the air, but the OP was asking if metric is better for making recipes. The answer is in some cases yes, but in some cases no, if the recipe has a mixture of weight and volume measurements, it's no better than the present system of measures.

                                                                                                                        1. re: genoO

                                                                                                                          Your comparison to North Korea is absurd.

                                                                                                                          1. re: genoO

                                                                                                                            Your information on metric requirements for highway contracts in the US may be out of date.

                                                                                                                            http://precast.org/2013/01/metrics-ha...

                                                                                                                      2. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                        Has anyone actually looked at recipes from metric countries?

                                                                                                                        Here are two bread recipes chosen at random on Google from Brazil, translated by Google Chrome.

                                                                                                                        They use the following measurements, Kg, grams, soup spoons, tablespoons, dessert tablespoons, American cups and tea cups.

                                                                                                                        So much for metric being better.

                                                                                                                        Homemade Bread from Brazil

                                                                                                                        INGREDIENTS

                                                                                                                        1 kg of wheat flour (approximately).
                                                                                                                        1 spoon (soup) of sugar
                                                                                                                        1 tbsp (tablespoons) of salt
                                                                                                                        1 spoon (soup) shallow lard, or 1/4 cup soy oil, or 1 tablespoon (soup) margarine
                                                                                                                        2 cups (American) warm water
                                                                                                                        1 envelope active dry yeast (10g) or 2 tablets of fresh yeast (30g) or

                                                                                                                        http://cybercook.com.br/como-fazer-pa...

                                                                                                                        ------

                                                                                                                        Homemade Bread from Brazil

                                                                                                                        5 cups (tea) of wheat flour
                                                                                                                        3 tbsp (tablespoons) baking powder
                                                                                                                        1 tablespoon (dessert) salt
                                                                                                                        3 spoons (soup) margarine, softened
                                                                                                                        2 eggs
                                                                                                                        1 cup (tea) milk
                                                                                                                        1 spoon (soup) of grated cheese (optional).
                                                                                                                        2 tbsp (tablespoons) finely chopped chives (optional).

                                                                                                                        http://www.tudogostoso.com.br/receita...

                                                                                                                        -----

                                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                          http://cocinanativa.blogspot.com/2013...
                                                                                                                          Is a 'milk bread' from an Ecuadorian blogger. I think he's a chef. Everything is in 'gr', including the 65 gr of Royal (baking powder). (everything except the eggs). Baking temperature is 170 °

                                                                                                                          Speaking of eggs, Ruhlman in Ratios, is one of the few places where eggs are specified by weight.

                                                                                                                          For example 'The pasta dough ratio is 3 parts flour, 2 parts egg.
                                                                                                                          http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/how-to-mak...
                                                                                                                          He even suggests weighing the egg (after breaking) and adding flour accordingly. Later he specifies

                                                                                                                          9 ounces/255 grams all-purpose flour
                                                                                                                          3 eggs
                                                                                                                          which implies eggs are about 2oz. or 56gm.

                                                                                                                          Though I have seen/read about Italian cooks making a well in a pile of flour, breaking in the eggs, and incorporating just enough flour to get the right consistency. Excess flour is reserved for later use.

                                                                                                                      3. Measuring flour... A group of people did an informal poll on measuring a cup of flour, then weighing it. It turns out that the weights for the cup of flour ranged from something like 90 grams all the way up to over 200 grams. Yeah, I don't do cups of flour. I weigh. And I use metric exclusively. I am also not an American.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                          That was a poorly done study. Some of those participants seem never to have learned how to measure dry ingredients.

                                                                                                                          One person, measuring one particular flour in a proper and consistent way, will get results sufficiently consistent to give good results in cooking.

                                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                            It was real world people, not chefs but home cooks, and to me, illustrates perfectly why some recipes will work great for some people and horribly for others. It's all in how they measure their ingredients. With flour, do they scoop? Sift? Dump? Fluff?

                                                                                                                            If you're new to baking and no one told you to sift or fluff your flour before measuring, then it's no surprise if your cake/bread ends up heavy and dry. But with measuring by weight, it really doesn't matter how you sift/fluff/scoop/dump.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                              Real world people at least one of whom didn't know how to cook. A (US) cup of all-purpose flour weight about one-eighth of a kg, or 125 g. The only way you could get 200 g. would be to take a heaping cup without leveling it, packing it in, or using a liquid measure cup which has room above the one c. line.

                                                                                                                              Granted that weighing is a more accurate method, properly done volume measurements should nevertheless fall within plus or minus 15% or so.

                                                                                                                        2. If you're happy with the recipe the way it is, there's no reason. And there's also no reason they'd be "more accurate." The recipes were tested and written with Imperial. They're just fine the way they are.

                                                                                                                          The way I look at it, I want to spend my time in the kitchen cooking, not doing mathematic conversions.

                                                                                                                          1. As someone who lives outside the USA and traveled extensively (and still does), I've come to appreciate recipes using weights. I've been graciously gifted several recipes from generations of mothers handing down their gifts... all because I was lucky enough to give thanks to the chef and then given a copy of the recipe at the end of the meal.

                                                                                                                            In all of my baking books that I use often, I have slowly started to convert all of the measurements... My Dorie Greenspan and Maida Heatter books are littered with my conversions right beside each ingredient.

                                                                                                                            I use the following 2 sites to help me convert. 3 minutes of punching in numbers and then I'm set for life. I just need to identify the ingredient (and that pulls up the density) and then I mention if it's in cups, tb... and voila... grams!

                                                                                                                            http://www.onlineconversion.com/weigh...
                                                                                                                            http://www.traditionaloven.com/conver...

                                                                                                                            1. You know what would be a devastating auction on Cutthroat Kitchen? - make all of your opponents use volume measures instead of their usually metric scales.

                                                                                                                              But seriously, how often have you seen cooks use a scale during competitions, FN, Top Chef, Master Chef, etc? I have seen scales on ICA - when using some sort of MG chemical.

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                scales make for more consistency and easier repeatability.

                                                                                                                                1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                  That explains why scales aren't used much in competitions. They don't need to repeat their dishes.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    If it is the case that scales are not much used in competitions, then I am surprised.

                                                                                                                                    Far from not needing to repeat their dishes, I would have thought that serious competitiors would want to practice their recipes and, once finding a success, would want to repeat it in the competition. Scales would be vital.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                      restaurant kitchens use scales for baking and some desserts, but it's very unusual to use them in savory applications.

                                                                                                                                      if in a competition, it may also be a time factor.

                                                                                                                              2. One argument against a wholesale conversion to weight - a scale is relatively fragile and bulky. Usually that isn't an issue, but my kitchen is small enough that I've had to give some thought to storing mine. One resides on in a small hanging shelf. Another in a fry pan on top of a shelf in the hallway.

                                                                                                                                And a scale has not place in my camping kitchen. But there I rarely cook something that requires precision measurement. I don't even take a cookbook. 'recipes' are all in my head.

                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                  The scale I use is about 7"x5"x0.5", or just a little bit bigger than a paperback book. I've carried it in my luggage as we moved from one country to the next. It goes in my kitchen drawer with my utensils.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    I have this electronic scale:

                                                                                                                                    http://www.lakeland.co.uk/13147/Salte...

                                                                                                                                    It's flat and very easy to store, easier than measuring cups cluttering up a drawer.

                                                                                                                                    Scales are becoming more flat and electronic/digital based and the older, bigger and bulkier scales are becoming a thing of the past.

                                                                                                                                    The downside is that you run the risk of electronic failure and glitches! I'm not saying it's happened to me or to others I know but I can see how it can happen given all electronics have a life span.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                                                      This is the one I store in a skillet
                                                                                                                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aphW...
                                                                                                                                      it's about 8 x 5.5" & 2" high (oops, using inches), which I got for $10 from an outlet.

                                                                                                                                      It is convenient and functional, but has hasn't replaced the cups and measuring spoons hanging in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                                                        Speaking of which, does anyone know of a source for a scale of the following type:

                                                                                                                                        1: It must be a balance-scale design, NOT a spring/pad/parametric scale. So you put weights on one side and the thing to be weighed on the other.

                                                                                                                                        2: It should have enough precision to measure to fractions of grams. Preferably at least as precise as 250 mg.

                                                                                                                                        3: It should be able to weight items at least up to 5Kg, although 2Kg would be adequate for most uses.

                                                                                                                                        4: It must not be digital/electronic.

                                                                                                                                        And in response to another post about fractions of a degree Celsius in temperature, another use I have all the time is chocolate tempering - where exact temperature profiles are everything (I have a special chocolate tempering thermometer with fast response and accuracy to 0.1 C)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                                                                          https://www.google.com/search?q=balan...
                                                                                                                                          Take your pick

                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            Ohaus scales...

                                                                                                                                    2. what is the conversion factor for rolled oats?

                                                                                                                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGcdy...
                                                                                                                                      this video claims 1 cup = 80 g. Apparently he's going by the 1/2c (40g) serving size on the box. But he measures with a 'liquid' cup, and get 112 g. I try my dry measures, with a scoop and level method and get 110g.

                                                                                                                                      But this page uses 90g.
                                                                                                                                      http://www.traditionaloven.com/conver...

                                                                                                                                      http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthr...
                                                                                                                                      responders on this thread can't believe rolled oats weigh 110. They keep insisting that 80g is right.

                                                                                                                                      Out of curiousity, I tested steel cut oats - 150g / cup. Oat flour 108g. Groats 180g

                                                                                                                                      Clearly the form of the oats makes a big difference. More than the details of how I scoop and level. I suspect the low rolled oats weight is for thin Quaker oats, possibly fresh out of the mill. Mine are medium thick from a bulk barrel at the health food store.

                                                                                                                                      If as fitness guy you are mainly concerned with counting calories, then working from the weights on the box makes sense. But if you are converting your own tried and tested recipes, use published conversion factors with caution.

                                                                                                                                      1. Personally, the only use I have for metric is when dealing with Baker's Percentage. That said, I'm sure that if i was raised on metric I would be of the opinion that US and Imperial systems were pretty crazy.
                                                                                                                                        On the other hand, as mentioned in another thread not too long ago, if I was totally fluent in metric i wouldn't have an excuse to give times as a response to distance questions - like, "Oh, about an hour" when asked "How far from here to Philadelphia?"

                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                          but Europeans use "about n hour" too.

                                                                                                                                          There's a small group of us who were taught both systems when the US was planning on adopting metric back in the 70s. I remember thinking that it was easier then -- and I was in grade school!

                                                                                                                                          Then I grew up and started working in international business...and then got lucky enough to LIVE in Europe.

                                                                                                                                          No question as to which one I prefer, even if I'm fluent in both.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                                                            Uh, yeah. I'm from Canada and a lot of us talk in times. Part of it is due to dealing with Americans who come up for a visit and don't understand kilometers. The other part of it is that we grew up during the transition from miles to kilometers and may be talking to people who understand miles better (the older generation) or kilometres (the younger generation).

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                              not only that -- 20 miles (32km) on the motorway going away from a population center is a lot shorter period of time than the same distance on surface roads going, say, across the city.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                When I first got my driver's license the maximum speed limit on all highways was 55 MPH. the signs also read 88.5 KPH.

                                                                                                                                                I grew up in rural Minnesota and we always gave driving distances in miles. It was not until I moved to the cities that I too began thinking of distances as measured by time.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                  In the UK, we're in a sort of limbo between metric and imperial. Most things are in metric - petrol, for example, yet road distances and speeds are in miles. Sugar comes in 1kg bags but I weigh 16 stone (and have no idea what that is in either kilos or pounds, without resorting to a converter).

                                                                                                                                            2. How do you convert your recipes?

                                                                                                                                              - On paper - look up the various conversion factors (e.g. 127g/c flour, 80g/c rolled oats, etc), and apply those to the written recipe?

                                                                                                                                              - In the kitchen - make the recipe as you normally do, weighing each ingredient after it's been measured?

                                                                                                                                              - both, and then reconcile the differences?

                                                                                                                                              - give up?

                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                I use http://www.onlineconversion.com/weigh...

                                                                                                                                                It's reliable. Only once did I have a problem with one of their conversions - I think it was the oats - but they corrected it shortly after. I've been using it for years.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                  I've worked with scientists that use this freeware program, Convert. It's a very, very easy and intuitive interface.

                                                                                                                                                  http://joshmadison.com/convert-for-wi...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                                                    I took a look, and it appears that that program does not convert volume to weight or vice versa. If it doesn't, then it's useless for the kind of conversions I'm talking about.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                      You can't just automatically convert volumes to weight unless one know the exact density of the item being measured. But it does look like the onlineconversion people at least made an heroic attempt to quantify a lot of conversions for food products. Not sure how accurate they are - just skimming through....how tightly do "beet greens" need to be pack to fit their conversion?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                        I haven't seen 'error bars' on any of those food conversion factors.

                                                                                                                                                        http://www.researchgate.net/publicati...
                                                                                                                                                        is an article on density measurements of oats. It discusses measurement methods, and variability by strain. And the focus is on whole oats, the kind that would be shipped from farm to grain elevator and mill.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                          As I said previously, I've been using this site for my conversions for a few years and, with one exception that they remedied, their conversions have always worked for me.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                          If you want to convert English volumes to metric weights, you must have a scale. So why not just measure out the ingredients and weigh them?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                            Did you look at the link I posted for http://www.onlineconversion.com/weigh... ? They've done all that work already. I don't have to.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                              My favorite site does it, too -- http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                Yep, I've used that site, too. :)