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When it comes to baking, it’s always important to follow the listed quantities used to get good results.
But sometimes, recipes we find list a different unit of measurement; if we’re unaware of it, we don’t get the desired results when cooked.
Can one use an online converter to get the listed equivalent measurements?
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It might work with measurements regarding length, but it gets tricky with other measurement units. There are at least three measurement standards used worldwide with variations.
Before making those conversions, let’s look at these measurement units.
What is the Metric System?
The Metric System, or the International System of Units, is the international standard for measurement units and is the world’s most commonly used units of measurement in the world. It uses a simple metric conversion factor in tens or hundreds of increments to convert one unit to another within the metric system.
As the metric system uses fixed increments, converting measurements within the metric system is relatively easy and entails moving the decimal point to the left or right of the number.
What is the Imperial System?
The Imperial System is the measurement system used in the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth territories. Unlike the metric system, the imperial systems don’t have fixed increments for conversion.
For instance, an inch to a foot is 12 inches, while a foot to a yard is three feet.
What are US Customary Units?
The US Customary Units is the official measuring system in the United States and its territories. While on the Imperial Measurement system, the US Customary Units only differ in volume measurements, with US units being slightly bigger than their Imperial counterparts.
Likewise, some units in Imperial Measurements, such as gill, are not used in the US.
How important is getting an accurate measurement conversion?
In cooking, converting measuring systems allows you to prepare a dish based on the more familiar measurement systems, as some dishes use the imperial system and vice versa.
And while you don’t need the exact value when converting, one major mistake in converting could become a bland soup or sauce because of how little seasoning you placed or an extra salty chicken stir-fry because of too much salt, all caused by a significant error in conversion.
What does the soft conversions metric mean?
This term refers to conversions made from imperial units to the metric system while maintaining minimal changes. For instance, a 1/2-inch converted to the metric system will be around 12.7 mm, and would often be rounded off to 13 mm.
Converting Volume Measurements
The US Customary Units have a slight variation from their Imperial counterparts, as the former has a little more in volume measure.
While a cubic meter would be the same volume in cubic inches for US and Imperial units, the difference becomes noticeable when you scale up ingredients when producing large quantities of a dish.
- 1 litter or 1,000 milliliters (mL), for example, will be 2.113 pints in the US and 1.7598 pints in Imperial units.
- 1 fluid ounce (fl oz) in the US is 1.0408 fl oz in the UK and 29.574 mL in the metric system.
- 1 volume pint (pt) in the US is 0.8327 pt in the UK and 473.2 mL in the metric system.
- 1 volume gallon (gal) in the US is 0.8327 gallons in the UK and 3.79 liters in metric units.
- 1 volume cup in the US has 240 mL, while a UK cup will have 250 mL.
- 1 volume quart (qt) is 1.1 liters, 2 pints in the UK and 2.4 pints in the US.
- 1 volume teaspoon (tsp) is the same for the US and UK, equivalent to 4.9 mL in metric volume.
- 1 volume tablespoon (tbsp) is 3 tsp in the UK and the US, equivalent to 15 mL in metric volume.
The dry volume of ingredients also has some variations, too. A tablespoon might be half an ounce in volume, but when it comes to weight, dry volume tends to be lighter by a few milligrams compared to liquid volume.
Are ounces the same as fluid ounces?
While both are units of measurement, they are still different in terms of what they measure. Ounces measure solid material, while fluid ounces measure the volume of liquid materials.
Considering these variations, what would be the safe way to make conversions for consistent results in cooking?
One of the best ways to get consistent conversion results is to measure the weight of the ingredients instead of getting the volume.
Volume measurement and conversion can be confusing, especially with the variance between US and Imperial units. But weight conversion between the US, UK, and Metric systems remains consistent. You can measure weights using digital portion scales to help you get the right proportion needed for cooking your favorite dishes.
It’s not one hundred percent guaranteed that you’ll get the right results when you convert volume based on what’s listed. You need to know what unit of measurement is used and what unit of measurement system you often use.
As listed, the US Customary Units might look the same as the Imperial system, but a wrong computation can lead to different results. If a recipe lists quarts, you should look at whether these are US or Imperial units to get the best results.