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Michi

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While I was baking yesterday, I used one of my measuring cups to measure some flour by weight, using my OXO kitchen scale. The scale is accurate. (I previously verified this using reference weights.) Next, I needed some water, and the measuring cup was still sitting on the scale, so I just poured the water into it. To my surprise, less water fit into the cup than I expected. I made a mental note to check on this, and here are the results…

Below are the two sets of measuring cups I own. Both are metric sets, that is, 1 cup = 250 ml. Each set contains 1 cup, ½ cup, ⅓ cup, and ¼ cup measures.

IMG_3420.JPG

These are the actual volumes held by each set, with the percentage error.
  • Stainless steel:
    • 1 cup: 223 ml (–11%)
    • ½ cup: 116 ml (–7%)
    • ⅓ cup: 73 ml (–12%)
    • ¼ cup: 56 ml (–10%)
  • Plastic:
    • 1 cup: 250 ml (0%)
    • ½ cup: 135 ml (+8%)
    • ⅓ cup: 91 ml (+9%)
    • ¼ cup: 69 ml (+10%)
Of eight measuring cups, only one is accurate. The others deviate by a whopping 7–12% from the nominal value.

Imagine you go into a hardware store and buy a measuring tape. The tape works like this: when it tells you that something is 10 meters (or yards) long, the actual length can be anything from 8.8 meters to 12 meters (or yards), depending on which brand of tape you bought…

I'd like to replace these cups with ones that are accurate. I don't need laboratory-grade perfection; something that's within 1–2% would be fine. But I don't know how to find such cups. I mean, it's awkward walking into a store, pulling out a kitchen scale and a bottle of water, and telling the shop assistant that "I need to check whether these work." At best, I'd get a long stare; it worst, they might politely show me the door.

Does anyone know of accurate metric cup measures?
 
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Garner Harrison

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Since you mentioned baking, I would recommend weighing everything on a electronic scale instead of using measuring cups as its more accurate. When baking bread using grams for both water, flour and salt make it way easier since you can use bakers percentages to get a consistent product.
 

Michi

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Since you mentioned baking, I would recommend weighing everything on a electronic scale instead of using measuring cups as its more accurate.
I agree, weighing is more accurate. (I found out that my cup measures are garbage only because I was using a scale.)

But for jobs other than baking, using a measuring cup is often easier than using a scale. If I want three cups of wine or water, I can just grab my measuring cup, hold it over the pot, and pour from the bottle. One could argue that, in this case, accuracy isn't so important. But it would be nice if I really got 0.75 l when I do this, instead of 0.66 l…

How someone can sell a measuring cup engraved with "250 ml" that holds 223 ml is beyond me. It really beggars belief.
 

rickbern

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I think the stainless ones are imperial and probably within a reasonable margin of error. The plastic looks crap

I can’t understand why you guys insist on using metric measurements, imperial is so much better because you get to show off your skills with arcane matthematcal problem solving! :)

Rather than clutter my drawers with this junk I just measured out some glasses I have and I use them. Easier
 

Michi

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I think the stainless ones are imperial and probably within a reasonable margin of error.
I don't think so. Both sets have the 1-cup measure stamped with "250 ml."

Even assuming that some idiot just took US measures and stamped metric units on them, they'd also be out by too much: –9% to +16%.
 

Michi

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America's Test Kitchen declared the OXO measuring cups a winner:
They stress how accurate they are, but don't say what kind of cup they measure. An American customary cup (236.58 ml)? An American legal cup (240 ml)? A metric cup (250 ml)? Who knows…

OXO apparently don't know either:

https://www.oxo.com/categories/cook...poons/stainless-steel-measuring-cups-462.html

What good are these when no-one knows what units are actually being used? (As an engineer, that kind of thing occasionally drives me to despair. Don't get me started on recipes that call for "one tablespoon of salt"…)

If anyone happens to have the OXO cups and accurate scales, I'd be eternally grateful if you could fill the 1-cup measure with water (level with the top, not lensing up) and note the weight. The OXO cups look great, but I really don't want to buy a set only to find that they use American units.
 
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Foltest

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Am I the only person here using laboratory glassware for measuring? :D :D
 

AT5760

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I use Pyrex liquid measuring cups. Liquid measuring cups have two distinct advantages over scoop-style cups when measuring liquids. First, they are designed to take the meniscus into account when measuring. Second, you don’t have to fill the liquid measuring cup precisely to the top and then avoid spills while transferring.
 

rickbern

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for my obsessive Australian friend...

I have four sizes (A-D) of these Duravit glasses. I measured them all to the intersection of the arch and the flute and then again to the top. Put it on a label. Depending on what I'm looking for, I just grab the glass I need. I use the A size as an espresso/port/cognac glass, B for sherry/champagne, C size glass as a wine glass and D for water. My wine glasses yield 6 portions out of a 750 ml bottle, saving me GOBS of money!

It's also interesting to note that I have a total of 99 glasses on just one shelf of an 80 mm (32") cabinet. And it's not particularly crowded. Additionally, they've been dropped plenty of times, I doubt if a total of six have broken over the course of twenty years. But seriously, the REAL kicker is, I waste no drawer space on measuring cups!

Good buy overall.

glasses.jpg
 

daveb

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Michi - nothing wrong with a little extra wine.....
 

RonB

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There is another "problem" with fill and level style cups when measuring dry ingredients. That is that scooping into the cup will compact the contents while spooning into the cup will not, (and did the author divulge how he measured?). To me, the key is consistency. I prefer recipes that provide weights, but when volumes only are used, I have standard weight conversions I use. If that doesn't work, I can adjust if I think the recipe deserves another chance.
 

LostHighway

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I'm of the school that measuring by weight is the only reliable option for baking and preparing tea or coffee. For cooking, at least most stove top cooking, I'm not convinced that the variables introduced by volume measurements are terribly consequential. I frequently make adjustments in progress based on taste or texture. Molecular gastronomy may be an entirely different matter but that is well outside my skill set.

FWIW I do use some labware (beakers and a graduated cylinder) in the the kitchen but I primarily rely on old Pyrex glass measuring cups for liquid volume measurements and some Williams-Sonoma measuring cups for dry volume (the ones I use appear different form what they are currently stocking). For small volume liquids I use the OXO Mini Angled Measuring Cups, also useful as barware.
 

Paraffin

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(As an engineer, that kind of thing occasionally drives me to despair. Don't get me started on recipes that call for "one tablespoon of salt"…)
That used to bother me too, but I finally decided that since the only salt I ever use is Kosher salt, and most recipes will specify if it's anything other than regular table salt, I just automatically add a little extra. That usually works.

I haven't thought much about inaccurate dry measure cups because I use weight measure when baking, and pyrex measuring cups for liquids (for the non-spill reason mentioned above).

The only thing I use metal dry measuring cups for, are things where it doesn't matter if they're very accurate like measuring out some oatmeal for breakfast, or sugar and relatively mild spices like paprika and chili powder for a BBQ spice rub. A little inaccuracy doesn't make that big a difference there. It matters a lot more in baking bread, where being a little bit off by how you compact flour in a dry measuring cup can make a big difference, so weight measure gives more consistent results.
 

ojisan

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Water in my OXO angled measuring cup (us version) was: 231 g at 1 cup and 467 g at 2 cups. Not bad, I guess.

I realized 1 cup is 200ml only in Japan.
 

Michi

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Water in my OXO angled measuring cup (us version) was: 231 g at 1 cup and 467 g at 2 cups. Not bad, I guess.
That's a US cup size, and quite close to it. But that's also a totally different cup from the nesting ones in the link I posted in post #7.

If some has these OXO cups, I'd still appreciate finding out what the actual volume is, in millilitres.
 

Bensbites

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This is one of the reasons I weigh everything when possible.

1 cup = 8 oz = 236 (rounding). This is straight conversion, and not subjective.
 

ian

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I have a different set of OXO measuring cups. As far as I could tell,

1/3 cup : 77 g
1/2 cup : 122 g
1 cup : 230 g

However, it's really hard for me to tell when I've filled the cup "perfectly" to the top. I can look at it and say "hey, perfect" and then fit another 10 g in.

Probably you should either relax about it, or use weight instead. ;)

Edit: Sorry, maybe that sounded dismissive. I personally don't worry about small differences in measurement, but if it's important to you, I hope you find measuring cups that suit you!
 
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boomchakabowwow

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i love that meme..

"there are two types of Countries; those that use the Metric system and those that have been to the MOON!" hahha

carry on..nothing of substance to add here. :)
 

Michi

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Simple enough. A tsp is 6g, Tbsp is 3 tsp, so 18g. I rewrite all my recipes into grams/mls - and cheat in that I just assume most liquids have the same density as water (so 1ml=1g).
As an approximation, this is probably on the high side. I've weighed different salts on high-precision scales. For a teaspoon, I got weights of 4.0 g (sea salt flakes), 5.3 g (Morton kosher), 5.5 g for a run-of-mill generic cooking salt, and 6.1 g for a fine table salt.

Personally, I use 5 g as a teaspoon equivalent. I usually can add more salt later, if necessary, unless it's baked goods or some such. And my taste buds are a much better judge than a conversion chart anyway.

In the end, it's not that critical, except for something that I'm doing for the very first time. (For me, that's pretty much all baking recipes.) Once I've made something, I add notes if the recipe needs adjustment. (I've come across recipes that are hopelessly over-salted more than once. Ever tried over-salted paté? Don't!)
 

bobkoure

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As an approximation, this is probably on the high side.
I tend to use fine granulated non-iodized salt for baking, where 6g seems about right - for a first-time try on a new recipe. I keep everything in Google Drive, edit with potential changes as I check rise, crust, and crumb. Makes it dead easy to go up or down in 10% (or whatever) increments. Although 1g of table salt is pretty much the same amount of sodium chloride as 1g kosher, any thing with salt grains larger than 'table' means my bread will have issues.

I use a moderate precision scale (shows to .5g) the choice was between that and one that shows to .1g - but can only accommodate 2Kg before the strain cells are damaged. My flour and sugar containers are sometimes greater than that (I use tare for pretty much everything in the kitchen). I've used test weights (although no 1g ones to see where it 'breaks' between, say 1.45g and 1.55g) and it seems fairly spot-on. Those two options were Jensen scales. I've had four or five other brands fail from moisture on the keypad/readout, but the Jensens seem to the the Timexes of the kitchen scale world.

All that said, in general cooking, salt is challenging for me. In spite of (or maybe because of?) low-normal blood sodium levels, I'm a salt hound. I try hard not to oversalt, usually end up undersalting in compensation. I get that some ingredients need some salt during cooking, but beyond that, hey, there's salt on the table...
 

Luftmensch

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Interesting...

I use scales for my mediocre baking and eyeball/taste for almost everything else. I have two pyrex measuring cups for anything in between... but hey! I am not gourmet!
 
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