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Ingredient conversions


UnConundrum
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I know this was a recent thread, so I decided so see if we could make a contribution. We've put together an ingredient conversion calculator, and I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions. I know that "a pint's a pound the world around" but there's plenty of room for discussion when you work with teaspoons and tablespoons. We're using grams in a cup for our foundation, and going from there. Please play with it, and let me know if you have some suggestions. You can find it at: http://www.recipesonrails.com/conversions

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Only problem is that a liter is not a liter the world around, nor a cup measure a cup measure, nor a tablespoon a tablespoon. The table seems to work well within the US measurement system. A problem arises with international swapping of recipes, such as on eGullet. The only way to go is for all recipe ingredients to be by weight, as a gram is indeed a gram everywhere in the world.

Edited by The Old Foodie (log)

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I know this was a recent thread, so I decided so see if we could make a contribution.  We've put together an ingredient conversion calculator, and I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions.  I know that "a pint's a pound the world around" but there's plenty of room for discussion when you work with teaspoons and tablespoons.  We're using grams in a cup for our foundation, and going from there.  Please play with it, and let me know if you have some suggestions.  You can find it at:  http://www.recipesonrails.com/conversions

Great work! This is a great resource.

One thing I would suggest is that you specify the method of measuring for those ingredient where the measuring method matters. For instance, you list 113g as the weight for a cup of AP flour, however the weight of a cup of flour will vary quite a bit depending on how you measure it. Many recipes specify weighing the flour by the dip and sweep method, which will give you a cup weighing about 143 grams.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Only problem is that a liter is not a liter the world around. . .

Are you sure? I thought a liter was precisely 1000cc the world around.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Very clever pal. Volume to weight? I'm impressed. It sure works for things with known densities (water, salt, sugar..etc..).

What kind of algorithm are you using for the rest?

My guess would be that he(?) measures out a cup, and then weighs it.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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My guess would be that he(?) measures out a cup, and then weighs it.

LOL, right... in part. Many of the measurements are my own, and others the result of web research. We have tools for an admin to add new items/weights if someone wants to submit something that is missing.

Any one of us could measure a teaspoon (or whatever) of garlic powder 5 times and get different results each time. That's the frustration with volume measures, and there is no real standards. Most of my own recipes go by weight, which is much more accurate. Unfortunately, there is no gold standard for the conversions, and we're doing the best we can. We're aware that there are more possible conversions (British Tablespoons, drops, smidge, firkins, and gills, etc), and we know the web serves the world. On the other hand, we have to start somewhere, and can't meet everyone's needs right away. This is a start, and like I said, we're welcoming any comments. If we get feedback that a conversion to firkins would really be used by many visitors, we'll do it ;) Gills and smidges and koku, oh my!

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Any one of us could measure a teaspoon (or whatever) of garlic powder 5 times and get different results each time.  That's the frustration with volume measures, and there is no real standards.

Well, its true that you will never completely eliminate measurement error (e.g. one person's cup might be a fraction of a millileter larger than another, or one person's scale might be more accurate), but I would say that you could certainly reduce it to a point where it becomes almost meaningless. I dont know if there is a way for you to do this with your system, but it would good if there were some way to give greater weight (pun intended) to measurements that are of higher quality. For instance, a measurement that specifies the volume of the cup precisely (say, 225ml), and uses a scale with an accuracy of 0.1gram, would be worth more than 50 measurements where the cup's volume is not defined precisely (it could be anywhere from 200-250ml), and the scale has an accuracy of 2g. This is one reason why I tend to use the conversions in The Cake Bible -- the author specifies the scale she used (an extremely accurate Mettler lab scale), the volume of the cup she used (236ml), and, where applicable, the method that was used to fill the cup (sifted into cup, spooned into cup, dip-and-sweep into cup).

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Now if you could only tell me what a medium onion . . .

Oh, that's easy! A medium onion is bigger than a small one, but smaller than a large one.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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1 lemon yields 47g juice

I wonder if that value is a mean of many lemons, or from one random lemon? Obviously some lemons yield much more juice than others, so there cant be one weight that applies to all lemons.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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1 lemon yields 47g juice

I wonder if that value is a mean of many lemons, or from one random lemon? Obviously some lemons yield much more juice than others, so there cant be one weight that applies to all lemons.

Like I said, I can't vouch for it's accuracy :) I've gotten lemons of the same size where the yield for one was twice as much as the other. Lemons of the same weight tend to produce less disparate yields, but I've still come across heavy lemons that yield less juice than expected.

I take the USDA numbers (and for that matter, all volume to weight conversions) with a pretty big grain of salt. They're good as a very rough guide. If I'm a situation where the conversion could make or break a recipe, though, I weigh out the ingredient myself.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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I know that "a pint's a pound the world around"

A Canadian pint is 20 oz. (US 16 oz.). Then logically, a Canadian quart is 40 oz. (Us 32), etc.

Maybe that's why everybody should switch to metric. A litre, is of course a litre everywhere (though it's a liter in some places).

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Only problem is that a liter is not a liter the world around. . .

Are you sure? I thought a liter was precisely 1000cc the world around.

OOOOPs! what I MEANT was, a pint is not a pint the world around (AND I used American spelling of "liter" too. what HAS got into me!)

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Is a standard American cup measure 240 ml? In Australia it is 250ml. I think our tablespoon size is different too.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I'm not sure if Canadians use the American pint or the Imperial one--Canada became independent after the British switched, but I suspect that American influence may have brought the US cup and pint.

A US cup is 236mL. When Australia went metric, they invented a "metric cup" of 250mL. The Australian tablespoon is the odd man out at 20mL (US and UK tablespoons are both approximately 15mL).

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Just for the hell of it I checked my cups over the weekend, and found that one of them is way off. My dry measure cup, 2C Pyrex liquid measure and 4C plastic liquid measure all gave cups of water weighing 235g (my scale is off -1g at 50+ grams, so the true weights are 236g). Since 1ml of water weighs 1g, all these cups have the correct volume for a US cup. However, when I checked my 1C glass liquid measure, 1C of water weighed 225g (all the liquid measures were filled so that the bottom of the meniscus was even with the top of the 1C line). I was suprised to see such a difference in volume.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Is a standard American cup measure 240 ml? ...

I'm not sure if Canadians use the American pint or the Imperial one--Canada became independent after the British switched, but I suspect that American influence may have brought the US cup and pint.

A US cup is 236mL. When Australia went metric, they invented a "metric cup" of 250mL. The Australian tablespoon is the odd man out at 20mL (US and UK tablespoons are both approximately 15mL).

Umm...

According to Wikipedia, the US cup is 237ml for culinary use, but 240ml for legal use.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cup_(unit)

I'm really intrigued to discover that anyone thinks Britain "switched" pints ...

In the early 1800's Britain and the US both formalised and standardised their gallons, and hence pints.

Differently.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallon

However, in the original post

... We've put together an ingredient conversion calculator, and I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions.  I know that "a pint's a pound the world around" but there's plenty of room for discussion when you work with teaspoons and tablespoons. 

... Please play with it, and let me know if you have some suggestions.  ...

I'm sorry but I do worry about the authoritative status of any conversion table that claims that there are 999.94 ml in a litre.

Or that "a pint's a pound the world around" - the US pint is actually about 83% the size of everyone else's.

Similarly the assumption that gallons, quarts and spoons are internationally standardised to US measurements only is equally misinformed.

The fundamental problem that is being so energetically (and I fear misguidedly) tackled is the inappropriateness of the use of volume measures for loose solids. This is always going to be dependant on variables relating to the granularity and the settling conditions, giving different packing densities.

Volume measurement is always going to be highly approximate for such materials.

The answer is simple. Just use grams. Even if you only use them for cooking and nothing else, it makes it all really really easy.

Recipes are about communication.

Just using grams makes for simple AND accurate communication. Worldwide.

And remember that 1 ml of water weighs 1 gram (for all kitchen purposes).

If you try it, you'll soon discover that weighing water on a cheap digital scale is very much more accurate than using a level printed on a jug. (Quite apart from Patrick's cups.)

Use weight (whether or not you call it mass) for precision!

(Actually weight is the gravitational force acting on the mass, and its that force that we are measuring. Rather accurately.)

Sadly, where a volume measure is specified for a solid ingredient, it has to be accepted as being a rather loose approximation, and adding an approximate density-based translation isn't going to improve things.

Just a by-the-way.

Google does unit conversions. (Not ingredient specific volume to weight translations (which assume a density), just unit conversions.)

Try putting any of the following into Google's search box:

1 uk tablespoon in ml

1 us tablespoon in ml

3.5 us cups in ml

200g in oz

1 uk gallon in us pints

Its kinda useful :cool:

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

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Is a standard American cup measure 240 ml? ...

I'm not sure if Canadians use the American pint or the Imperial one--Canada became independent after the British switched, but I suspect that American influence may have brought the US cup and pint.

A US cup is 236mL. When Australia went metric, they invented a "metric cup" of 250mL. The Australian tablespoon is the odd man out at 20mL (US and UK tablespoons are both approximately 15mL).

Umm...

According to Wikipedia, the US cup is 237ml for culinary use. . .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cup_(unit)

237ml is also an approximation. If we want a really precise approximation, a US cup is 236.588238ml (according to Google, anyway).

The fundamental problem that is being so energetically (and I fear misguidedly) tackled is the inappropriateness of the use of volume measures for loose solids. This is always going to be dependant on variables relating to the granularity and the settling conditions, giving different packing densities.

Volume measurement is always going to be highly approximate for such materials.

Absolutely. Flour is the best example I can think of. 1C of dip-and-sweep flour from my nearly empty generic flour weighed 147g, while 1C of dip-and-sweep flour from a just-opened bag of King Arthur AP flour weighed 156g. So there we have a ~6% difference caused just by the difference in flour density (since the cup and measuring method were identical). So, there is no one, "true" weight for a cup of AP flour, there are a range of weights depending on the density.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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