Cooking Measurements And The Inexperienced Cook


Do cooking measurements matter? When a recipe calls for a pinch of this and a dash of that, does it really matter how much you put in? What will happen if you leave an ingredient out?

If you’re an inexperienced cook, you wonder about the answers to these and other questions. Let’s take the mystery out of cooking measurements once and for all.

What’s a Pinch or a Dash?

A pinch of an ingredient (usually a spice) is literally the amount of the ingredient that can be held between your thumb, your index finger, and your middle finger. A small pinch is the amount of an ingredient that can be held between your thumb and one finger (take your pick which one you want to use). A dash, on the other hand, is a measurable amount – less than one-eight of a teaspoon but more than one-sixteenth.

Converting Cooking Measurements

Follow this table to convert U.S. measurements to metric:

1/5 teaspoon…1 ml

1 teaspoon…5 ml

1 tablespoon…15 ml

1 fluid ounce…30 ml

1/5 cup…50 ml

1 cup…240 ml

2 cups (1 pint)…470 ml

4 cups (1 quart)…95 liter

4 quarts (1 gal.)…3.8 liters

1 oz. weight…28 grams

1 pound…454 grams

What If It Gets Left Out?

Including all the minor ingredients is more important in baking things like cakes, cookies, and pastries, than it is in meat loaf, omelets, and salads. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to follow the recipe. Whoever wrote the recipe experimented with the cooking measurements to get them just right.

Now, if you know you can’t stand the taste of cumin, and you want to substitute oregano for cumin in a meat loaf recipe, that’s one thing. But leaving ginger out of ginger spice cookies is just wrong.

Measuring Tools

The importance of cooking measurements has led to a whole industry of cooking measuring cups and spoons. One of the most popular cooking measuring cup sets today is a blue ceramic set that looks just like a big coffee cup, marketed by Nigella Lawson the beautiful and famous television chef.

The most popular measuring spoons are heart-shaped measuring spoons by RSVP International. These spoons have arrow handles and heart-shaped measuring spoons. They make the user smile every time they use them.

The final cooking measurement device every cook needs is a scale. The best scales are digital, with the ability to accurately weigh items in bowls or plates or on slips of waxed paper.