Commentary: Measuring Spoons
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Accurate measuring can be the key step to successful cooking and baking, especially when measuring leavening agents and many spices.

When working with a recipe that requires a large quantity of ingredients to be added a little at a time, measure all of the ingredients into a bowl.  Then take from the pre-measured ingredients in small amounts. This way you wonít loose track of what you have added along the way.

Proper measuring of ingredients is important to successful cooking and baking. In baking, it is important to correctly measure such ingredients as salt, baking soda, baking powder and yeast.  In other recipes, adding too much cayenne or garlic can also ruin a dish. 

There are many different measuring utensils on the market.  I am not a gadget person, but I do have quite a few different measuring utensils that are helpful. Letís start with measuring spoons and scoops:

Measuring Spoons:
Generally consists of at least 4 spoons, which are made of plastic or metal. Measuring spoons are used to measure small quantities of both dry and liquid ingredients. When measuring ingredients for a recipe, you can use two sets (one liquid, one dry) or measure the dry ingredients before the wet ingredients. A basic measuring spoon set consists of ľ teaspoon, Ĺ teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon. Sets are also available that include 1/8 teaspoon, ĺ teaspoon and Ĺ tablespoon.                   There is also an adjustable type measuring spoon that does not resemble the typical measuring spoons. It is an elongated slotted container that has a slide bar with a "stopper" to control the specific amount of measure desired. I am not familiar with this type of measuring spoon so I donít know if it is as accurate or as easy to use as the traditional spoons.

To use a measuring spoon, pour or scoop the ingredients into the spoon. Using the back edge of a knife (please, not a sharp knife) or another straight edged object, level the ingredient by running the straight edge along the rim of the spoon to push the excess ingredient off.  Some containers have a straight edge that you can use to level off the ingredient as  you are withdrawing the spoon and the excess goes right back into the container.  Be sure that the spoon is clean and dry to keep from contaminating the ingredient in the container.

Donít measure ingredients over the mixing bowl containing other ingredients. Accidental spillage or over pour will fall into the mixture and ruin the whole recipe.  Make sure to measure ingredients over the sink, another bowl, or a sheet of wax paper.  Spillage caught on wax paper can be returned to the container from which you are pouring from.

If you do not have two sets of measuring cups or spoons that can be used separately for the dry and liquid ingredients, measure the dry ingredients first and then use the measuring spoons for the liquid ingredients.

When cooking, learn to estimate the small measurements of ingredient to save time. Pour the measured amount of an ingredient into the palm of your hand. Observe the look and feel of the quantity and then try to pour that same amount into your palm without measuring first. Measure the amount you poured out to see how close you are to the actual measure. Practice doing this and soon you will be able to measure the ingredients by look and feel. This will greatly reduce your prep time when cooking. Do not use this technique when measuring ingredients for baking. When baking, it is more critical to that all ingredients are measured accurately.

Solid ingredients, such as peanut butter, are measured to the rim of the spoon.

To measure liquid ingredients into a measuring spoon, hold the spoon flat and pour the ingredient into the spoon until it reaches the top rim of the spoon.  If the ingredient is sticky, coat your spoon with no stick spray or if there is oil in the recipe, measure that before the sticky ingredient.

Miscellaneous Measures:

At times a recipe will call for a quantity that is not a standard measurement, such as pinch, dash, jigger, scant or heaping. Measurements of this type can be confusing as to the exact quantity to use. The descriptions below may help when these measurements are called for in a recipe.

Pinch - A measurement used on dry ingredients that is the amount you can pinch between your forefinger and thumb. It is less than a dash and equivalent to approximately 1/16 teaspoon.

Dash - A small amount of an ingredient equivalent to over 1/16 teaspoon but less than 1/8 teaspoon when measuring dry ingredients. A dash used to measure liquid ingredients equals approximately 3 drops.

Jigger - A measurement equivalent to 3 tablespoons or 1 Ĺ fluid ounces.

Scant - A scant measurement indicates that you should use slightly less than the actual measure.

Heaping - A term, used when measuring dry ingredients, indicating that enough ingredient should be added in the measure so that it heaps over the rim of the measuring cup or spoon.

Portioning Scoops: Scoops are available in mechanical and non-mechanical types and are used for measuring, portioning, and forming. Measuring scoops are popular in the food industry because they measure even portions every time, so there is no guess work, you have an even sized product and they are a time saver. They are available in several sizes, which are numbered according to their volume: the higher the number, the smaller the volume.

The scoops are handy for measuring even portions when making foods such as cookies, muffins and meatballs. A #16 may be used for a medium size cookie where as a #30 or #24 would be used for a small cookie. A #16 may be used for making meatballs and a #6 for portioning meat for a patty.

Portioning Scoop Sizes Available:

                 Scoop Size            Tbsp.      Fluid oz.


                #30                          2              1

                #24                          2 3/4        1 1/2

                #20                          3              1 3/4

                #16                          4              2

                #12                          5              2 1/2

                #10                          6              3

                #8                            8              4

                #6                            10            5




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