Measuring ingredients precisely can have a huge effect on the outcome of your recipe. This is especially true when it comes to baking, as precise measurements are required to create the correct chemical reactions.
Measuring liquid can sometimes be tricky, but several common tools can be used to measure liquids, and a few tips can make measuring liquids easier.
Liquid Measuring Cups
The most common tools for measuring liquids are liquid measuring cups, which are specifically designed to hold liquid ingredients, like milk or water, instead of dry ingredients, like flour or sugar.
Liquid measuring cups are usually made of clear plastic or glass and generally hold 1 or more cups of liquid.
These cups have markings on the side, so you can add liquid until you reach the necessary amount. Increments are usually divided into half, quarter, or third cups.
Liquid measuring cups are usually a little bit taller than their largest marking. This ensures that you can add liquid until it reaches the top mark, but you don’t need to worry about the liquid spilling over the edge of the cup.
These cups also usually have a small spout that makes pouring easier.
Adjustable measuring cups are also available. These measuring cups are actually just one container with multiple markings on the side, ranging from 1 to 2 cups to 1/4 of a cup or even smaller, sometimes as small as a tablespoon.
The cup itself is clear and shaped like a tube. A solid tube at the bottom of the cup can be moved up and down to the correct measurement, and you can then add your ingredients accordingly.
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Dry Measuring Cups
Dry measuring cups are similar to liquid measuring cups, but these cups are usually the exact size of the measurement they’re used for.
For example, a dry measuring cup that measures 1/2 a cup will hold exactly 1/2 a cup and nothing more. This is so you can easily level off the dry ingredient to get an accurate measurement.
Although you can use dry ingredient measuring cups for liquid ingredients, the lack of a lip means that they’re a bit more challenging to use, and it’s harder to get an exact measurement without spilling some liquid.
Dry measuring cups are usually sold in a set containing cups in several sizes. However, you can also purchase collapsible dry measuring cups.
These cups can be opened up until they’re the correct size for the amount of an ingredient you need. A collapsible measuring cup is sometimes easier to use for measuring wet ingredients, as you can open the cup a bit more, which gives you a lip to avoid spills.
Measuring spoons are used to measure much smaller amounts of dry or liquid ingredients. Like dry measuring cups, these spoons are sold in a set.
Most sets contain a tablespoon, teaspoon, half tablespoon, half teaspoon, and 1/4 of a teaspoon. Many also contain 1/8 of a teaspoon.
Measuring spoons are an excellent way to measure liquid ingredients such as vanilla extract, honey, or other liquid flavorings.
If you need to measure out small amounts of an ingredient, such as an extract, you can sometimes simply use the cap on the bottle. Most bottle caps hold between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon.
Although the measurement won’t be exact, it can often be quite close and can help you add the correct amount of an ingredient in a pinch.
Graduated Cylinders and Beakers
Although they’re uncommon in home cooking or baking settings, graduated cylinders and beakers are often used to measure liquids in a science or laboratory setting.
These containers are made of clear plastic or glass and are marked along their sides, similar to a liquid measuring cup. The markings are usually for milliliters or liters, however, instead of cups or tablespoons.
Graduated cylinders are generally tall, while beakers are shorter and often have a wide base and a narrow mouth. Most graduated cylinders also have a lip that makes it easier to pour liquids from them.
Although they’re uncommon for use with cooking, there’s no reason not to use a clean graduated cylinder or beaker to measure liquid ingredients for recipes.
These items can be especially handy if you use recipes that call for liquids in milliliter amounts instead of cups.
If your recipe calls for liquid ingredients in metric measurements, such as milliliters, you can also use a scale. To measure liquid ingredients on a scale, place a container, such as a bowl or a bottle, on the scale.
Then press the button, often called the tare button, that allows you to erase the weight of the container.
Once the scale again reads zero, make sure the measurement unit is set to milliliters and add your liquid until you reach the correct amount.
Sometimes, you won’t even need to change between grams and milliliters. For example, 1 milliliter of water should weigh 1 gram.
However, 1 milliliter of other ingredients may weigh more or less than 1 gram. Milk, for example, is denser than water, so it weighs a bit more.
Best Ways to Measure Liquid Ingredients
Once you have the correct tools for measuring liquid ingredients, measuring isn’t too tricky. The most important thing is to always make sure that the container you’re using to measure is on a flat, level surface.
This is especially true if you’re using liquid measuring cups. To take the reading, make sure you’re at eye level with the cup instead of reading it from above.
If you need to measure a sticky liquid ingredient like honey or molasses, you can spray the inside of the cup or spoon with cooking spray before you add the ingredient.
This will help it slip out, ensuring a more accurate measurement.