One gram or one teaspoon here or there can sometimes have a serious impact on a food. Just imagine the sticky mess that can result from adding just a drop too much water to a dough, or the awful taste of pepper spilled into soup while attempting to eyeball the amount added. I’d say most of us have been there, done that, and ended up tossing our hard work. One of my serious considerations for going to culinary school, as opposed to pastry school, was that I don’t have the patience to meticulously measure out every ingredient. And on top of that, there’s the different measurement systems. There’s no escaping the recipes in grams and milliliters, nor pounds and cups. I was drawn to the idea of knowing the ingredients so well that I could eyeball the amounts. Yet there are some things that are just not eyeball-able, but rather require measuring tools to be used.
By Cup and By Weight
Cups come in all different shapes and sizes, yet recipes demand a standard that can be guaranteed only by measuring cups. The customary cup in the United States is under 240 milliliters whereas the metric cup is 250 milliliters, a slight, but sometimes important difference. The United States and Britain have yet to transfer over to the metric system which the rest of the world follows. The disparities in the systems can cause confusion abroad. Admittedly, knowing that the weather is 18 degrees Celsius means nothing to me, despite having lived abroad in a metric-using country for quite some time. And if you ask me my height in centimeters…well, I have no idea. Thankfully, there are scales which measure both British and Metric units. And for that stick of butter needed in grams, or those liters needed in cups, thank the internet. The biggest challenge in playing with unit conversions in recipes is in converting volumes to weights. One cup of flour is not equal to one cup of water when it comes to weight. If the proper measuring cups are not available, a little research will need to be done, which can add preparation time and hassle.
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The solution to the mix-up and complication with measuring cups, weights, and units is to have the proper measuring equipment on hand. Measuring cups and basic scales are not expensive and will often go a long way in helping create new menus, improve food quality and quality consistency in a venue, and simplify the cooking and baking processes for employees. As an added bonus, measuring equipment such as scales and measuring cups can also be used as food portioners for ensuring uniform dish sizes for each order and allowing exact calculation of profits on each dish. When having the proper equipment is not an option, conversion charts can be used. These can either be printed and then hung somewhere in the commercial kitchen or, if they are rarely needed, employees may take a break to look up the conversions on the internet. Venues can also convert their recipes to match their measuring equipment. If a recipe calls for one stick of butter, but the butter in a venue is purchased in bulk and not wrapped by sticks, the recipe can be reprinted as calling for 4 ounces of butter, rather than one stick.
The metric and British systems cause complications when it comes to unit conversions. However, these complications must be dealt with and overcome in the kitchen, in order to produce the best foods. Just a tad too much or too little salt can have a big effect on the diner’s portrayal of the dish and the kitchen staff’s food preparation skills. Though experienced cooks are likely to get it right, some dishes demand exact quantities to turn out great, making it important to have the proper measuring equipment on hand. Very experienced cooks may know that one ounce is about 28 grams, or that to convert Celsius temperatures to Fahrenheit, you must multiply the temperature by 1.8 and then add 32. Some may be able to calculate or estimate such conversions in their head, but for the most part, these switches are a challenge, not only for kitchen staff, but for cooks worldwide and in general. Aside from the solutions suggested above of having conversion charts, purchasing the right measuring equipment, or converting recipes to fit the tools in a specific kitchen, venues may want to have a kitchen calculator handy in order to avoid innocent mistakes and recipe mishaps. Following these tips will help make food preparation simpler and more consistent in a venue.