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Converting Between Metric and Imperial Measures


Amy Eber
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Does anyone have experience converting European baking recipe measurements to American or American to European? Do European bakers actually weigh out dry ingredients for such things as cakes and cookies and how does that convert to cups, teaspoons and tablespoons? I have seen several conversion charts but there is quite a disparity amoung them. Thanks.

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It's not only European bakers that weigh out ingredients.......American ones do too.

Weighing is ALWAYS the best and most accurate way to measure ingredients......bar none.

But if you want to convert, this conversion calculator is the handiest and most accurate one out there......... :smile:

Edited by chefpeon (log)
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I baked prfessionally in the US and we did weigh everything but I am looking to convert small scale US recipes since I teach and now live in Switzerland but also want to convert back for my teaching jobs in the US. Have you tried thsi calculator with any success?

It's not only European bakers that weigh out ingredients.......American ones do too.

Weighing is ALWAYS the best and most accurate way to measure ingredients......bar none.

But if you want to convert, this conversion calculator is the handiest and most accurate one out there......... :smile:

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Do European bakers actually weigh out dry ingredients for such things as cakes and cookies

Really, yes.

Its easier, and much more accurate. Hence more consistent - particularly between different bakers. Thus weight measurements are a better means of communicating a recipe.

A digital scale can be accurate, precise and cheap - about £8 in the UK - say SF15 or $15?

I'm sure you could pay lots more. You needn't.

Learn to use the 'Tare' function, and you'll love it.

... and how does that convert to cups, teaspoons and tablespoons? 
Don't !! :cool:

Its much better to use the measurements as given.

I have seen several conversion charts but there is quite a disparity amoung them. Thanks.

The reason for the variation is that the quantity of flour that fits into a cup depends on who is filling it, the type of flour, etc.

Its the actual concept of a "cup" of flour that is imprecise, hence the variability.

Technically, the variation arises because the packing density of flour is variable, and unspecified.

Have you noticed that flour is *always* sold by weight, never volume?

Even in the USA.

Ask yourself why that might be... :smile:

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Does anyone have experience converting European baking recipe measurements to American or American to European?  Do European bakers actually weigh out dry ingredients for such things as cakes and cookies and how does that convert to cups, teaspoons and tablespoons?  I have seen several conversion charts but there is quite a disparity amoung them. Thanks.

The hassle of converting is most often what prevents me from trying recipes found online or buying cool, American cookbooks.

I weigh out everything, and in Denmark (and presumably the rest of Europe) you can buy a measuring cup with grammes on it for a range of things, like sugar and so on, similar to this one (click on image for larger image). Not hugely accurate, but still better than having to convert everything to volume :raz:

I can only recommend weighing :-)

Edited by Mette (log)
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  • 11 years later...

Manager note: This post and the subsequent four have been moved from the Breakfast 2020 discussion.

 

On 1/9/2020 at 7:37 PM, Anna N said:

 True but our ovens still arrive using the Fahrenheit scale and all our recipes still use the Fahrenheit scale so we are only pseudo metric!

Interesting Anna...I didn't know that.  Are there any other old Imperial measurements still in use in Canada?

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, robie said:

Interesting Anna...I didn't know that.  Are there any other old Imperial measurements still in use in Canada?

Well depending on where you shop you will certainly find many, many things showing the weight in pounds and ounces rather than kilos and grams. There may be other things but they don’t come to mind at the moment. Perhaps other Canadian will jump in here with things they have noticed that are still in imperial measurements.

 

The most ridiculous attempt to be metric, of course, is the use of millilitres to measure solids like flour and sugar. It may be metric but it’s not rational. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Most things sold by weight include both metric and Imperial measurements, but the price/lb will usually be the (physically) big number and the price/kg or price/100g will usually be the smaller number on the sign. Packaged goods often have odd weights or volumes (3.89 litres, 397 ml) because that's what a US-sized can or jug translates to.

 

I can't answer for everyone, but I think most of us are fine with Celsius temperatures in the weather forecast, but think in Fahrenheit for baking. Our measuring cups are usually labeled in both units, so you can pour 1 cup or 250 ml of liquid with equal facility (they're almost, but not quite, the same). Brochures at Canadian car dealerships will express (ahem) mileage in terms of how many litres of gas it takes to drive 100 km, but I have to mentally change it to mpg. Speed limits themselves are always in km/h, and I doubt many of us mentally convert to mph. I know I don't.

 

People are still measured in archaic units of feet, inches and pounds. When you ask after someone's newborn baby, you'll be told a birth weight in pounds and ounces.

 

Some of these archaisms can be quite durable, of course. I've seen Americans use the phrase "in for a penny, in for a pound" and it's been a year or two since you broke from the UK. :)

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13 minutes ago, chromedome said:

Some of these archaisms can be quite durable, of course. I've seen Americans use the phrase "in for a penny, in for a pound" and it's been a year or two since you broke from the UK. :)

 

I don;t thin most Americans think about what it means - just pops out as an overall expression.

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5 hours ago, Anna N said:

Well depending on where you shop you will certainly find many, many things showing the weight in pounds and ounces rather than kilos and grams. There may be other things but they don’t come to mind at the moment. Perhaps other Canadian will jump in here with things they have noticed that are still in imperial measurements.

 

The most ridiculous attempt to be metric, of course, is the use of millilitres to measure solids like flour and sugar. It may be metric but it’s not rational. 

I have to agree about milliliters.

One thing that people (persons?) don't seem to realize is what is appropriate or practical for the job at hand 

I am a fisherperson (metric) ( fisherman (imperial)) and I think in fathoms rather than meters. On a calm day there will usually be some wind waves and up to  1 meter is usually classed as 'gentle'. So any measurement of depth on a calm day will have a ripple on it (which  really produces an error in the reading depending on where you are on the wave).

 

Similarly, (and somewhat surprisingly) bolts screws and nails measure in inches or part thereof are actually a much more useful length (a 10mm nail is too short for a lot of things but 1/2 inch is usually OK, the 2.5mm makes all the difference)

 

You don't measure the height of a person in millimeters, you use centimeters, but when you cut a piece of wood to length you use millimeters. Its about acceptable accuracy.

 

A cup is NOT an accurate measure but it does the job.

 

There is a really good explanation as to why the Space Shuttle size is related to the width of a horses rear end. Surprising but true.

 

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21 hours ago, Bernie said:

 

There is a really good explanation as to why the Space Shuttle size is related to the width of a horses rear end. Surprising but true.

 

I'll bite. Why?

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

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I spent a summer month as a girl converting the Austrian recipes to volume. All we had back then was the scale with the sliding weights. Mom's American fiends thought she was selfish when she did  not give them her recipes. I know it was inaccurate but she gave them the converted ones. Pre computer age.

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