There are many kitchen tools that cooks/bakers find useful and even indispensable. Sure, I adore my pretty blue Kitchen Aid. I longed for one for years and last year Santa (read: Mom) finally got the hint, threw down the cash and blessed me with the blue beauty which graces my kitchen counter (under protective cover of a dishtowel). My immersion blender has saved me the drudgery and mess of pureeing batch after batch of soup in a regular counter-top blender. My trusty old cheapo digital meat thermometer has allowed me to take the guesswork out of “Is this chicken fully cooked?”, as I’m not quite expert enough at cooking meat that I can just press on it with a fingertip and know that it’s no longer raw in the center.
All of these tools are nice, and I couldn’t do without them. There is one, though, that I will choose over any mixer, blender or thermometer (except maybe the Thermapen! *drool*)…
My kitchen scale.
I’ve praised it’s name countless times, and it truly is the workhorse of my kitchen. I highly recommend picking one up if you don’t already have one. Most recipes in cookbooks or online are usually in cups/teaspoons, which are volume measurements and they do have their place. But, in terms of accuracy and precision, nothing will do you better than a good kitchen scale. I think I picked this one up at Target for a mere $30. It weighs in both ounce/pound increments and in grams, and the glass surface is removable for easy cleaning. There are other more expensive models out there, some that are easily ten times more expensive than mine. This style will suit most home cooks just fine, as it’s weight limit is not extremely high and the weighing surface is not overly large.
There are some handy sites out there for calculating between volume and weight measurements, and there are some constants. “A pint’s a pound, the world around” comes to mind, basically that one pint (2 cups) will weigh 16 ounces (one pound). This generally applies to only liquid measures, as dry ingredients can vary. There are some useful sites that list common weights and conversions of ingredients if you’d like to try your hand at converting any recipe to weight from volume, but a scale is by far the simplest way to go about this.
Often, if I have a recipe that is only listed in volume measurements, I’ll carefully measure each amount and then take it’s weight, writing down the weight of each ingredient in the recipe. It’s the only sure-fire way to ensure that your recipes will come out identical and consistent, time after time. Whenever possible, I will provide both volume and weight amounts in the recipes posted, so they’re easily accessible to all. Happy weighing!