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Weights and Measures

Q. When a recipe calls for 8 ounces, can you just use a cup or because different things weigh different amounts, might you need a scale? — Steve, Menasha

A. Many a cook has asked this question. Cooks measure things in the kitchen four different ways: by weight (such as 8 ounces), by volume (such as ½ cup), by count (such as 3 eggs), and by division (such as a half stick of butter). Therefore, when a recipe calls for 8 ounces of an ingredient, it is typically referring to 8 ounces by weight. That makes it necessary to weigh it with a scale. A measuring cup measures 8 ounces by volume. There are four items that cooks consider to be equivalent in both weight and volume. These items are eggs, water, milk and oil (or melted butter). For these products, 8 ounces by weight is also 8 ounces by volume. Since almost every ingredient has its own distinct weight, using a volume measure is somewhat inaccurate. Measuring flour, for example, is better done by weight than volume because flour can be compacted to render the measurement incorrect. I hope this helps you, Steve!

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