Dry Measures vs. Liquid Measures – What’s the Difference?

While my sister Dawn was visiting several of her Armenian friends at the Jersey Shore this summer, their beach-side discussion turned to food and recipes. (Two of my favorite topics!)

Someone wanted to know the difference between dry and liquid measures, and why it was necessary to use different measuring tools for each. Eva, the biology teacher in the group, offered a scientific response, which apparently didn’t satisfy some of them.

Eva said, “If you don’t believe me, ask Robyn. She should know!”

Folks, here’s the culinary explanation:

Ingredients are measured by weight and volume. Weight refers to how heavy something is, whereas, volume refers to how much space an ingredient takes up — for example, 1 cup of cooked rice, or 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

In the Customary unit of measure, most commonly used in the U.S., food measured by weight is measured in ounces (oz.) and pounds (lb.)

Ingredients measured by volume are measured by:
teaspoon (tsp.)
tablespoon (Tbsp.)
cup (c.)
fluid ounce (fl.oz.),
pint (pt.)
quart (qt.)
gallon (gal.)

If using Metric units of measure, food measured by weight is measured in milligrams (mg), grams (g.), and kilograms (kg.), while Metric measures for volume are milliliters (ml) and liters (l).

In any recipe, accurate measuring is a MUST for quantity and quality control.

Dry ingredients are best measured using properly marked, measuring cups — either metal or plastic. These vary in size from 1/8 cup, ¼ cup, 1/3 cup, ½ cup, and 1 cup. To measure, the dry ingredient is filled to the rim, then leveled off with a straight edge spatula or the back of a knife .

Liquid ingredients are best measured in a see-through cup with graduated markings on the side. The cup should have a handle, and a spout to make pouring easy. To measure liquid, place the liquid measuring cup on a flat work surface, carefully pour in the liquid, then bend down to read
the marking at eye-level for accuracy.

Never pack flour into a measuring cup, or you’ll end up with more flour than the recipe requires, resulting in a heavy final product. Brown sugar, on the other hand, should be packed into the measuring cup. (FYI, the “brown” in brown sugar is molasses.)

For more information on kitchen tools and their uses, click on the yellow “Pantry” sign.

I hope this helped.

If you have any other questions, please send an email to robyn@thearmeniankitchen.com.

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